Jean-Ralphio. Oh, Jean-Ralphio, you poor, sad, hilarious little man. A gross caricature reflecting the excesses of club culture, Jean-Ralphio has somehow found himself toiling away in the sinkhole that is Pawnee, concocting ridiculous business ventures with his friend, Tom Haverford, and shamelessly hitting on anything that even whiffs of femininity. Jean-Ralphio, in all his moussed-up, sky-high hair glory reflects the best aspects of a stellar reoccurring character: used sparingly, he adds a jolt of energy and laughter to any scene.
Pawnee. One of the great joys of television is being able to watch a show grow beyond its initial concept and gimmick, expanding the narrow community it centers around into a sprawling world. The town of Pawnee could easily serve as a lazy stand in for Podunk, U.S.A., and to a certain extent it does, but the writers have worked hard to foster its own unique form of crumminess and ennui. From the insidious, looming specter of Sweetums to the increasingly horrific details of the town’s bizarre and maligned past, Pawnee is a town that it is preternaturally hopeless and stagnant. That’s to say nothing of the multitude of small town oddballs and luminous local celebrities that populate the land, from Perd Hapley to Joan Callamezzo to poor, departed Lil’ Sebastian. “Parks & Recreation” has come a long, long way from its humble beginnings as a proposed spin-off to “The Office.”