Parks and Recreation: The Inside Story on This Week's 'Joyous' Moment

Parks and Recreation fans got a sweet, unexpected treat in this week’s Halloween-themed episode: a marriage proposal so perfect, we named Amy Poehler TVLine’s Performer of the Week. And the trick to nailing such a momentous scene, say the people involved, was making it as quirky and lovable as the Pawnee politicos themselves.

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The decision to have Ben propose in Indiana was made long before the pivotal scene was shot, says showrunner Mike Schur. “What we realized was that we wanted Ben to do a good job in Washington, and what that meant was that he was going to get an opportunity to keep going with that job and with Kathryn Hahn’s Jen Barkley.”

The show then needed a pretty compelling reason for him to give up big-time politics. “There’s only one thing that would really do that, and that’s Leslie,” Schur says. “We just decided to shape the episode around him deciding that Leslie is [his] priority and that everything else is in second place.”

Just like Ms. Knope wanted a moment to recognize how perfect her life was as Ben knelt before her, Poehler needed a minute when she first received the “Halloween Surprise” script. “When I read that scene, I cried because I was so happy that I had my job at Parks and then I got to do that scene with Adam [Scott] and Mike wrote it. I knew it would be great,” she says.

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The day they shot the scene, “The mood on set was a really joyous one,” Poehler adds. After all, Scott adds,”We, of course, are well aware that these are fictional characters we are playing on television, but we also want them to be happy and all right.”

Now that the engagement is official, both Poehler and Schur balk at the idea that Leslie might turn into a bridezilla (“It’s fun to think about how Leslie’s going to deal with the planning of it, and there’s some surprises about how everybody handles it and deals with it. But I wouldn’t maybe use that term, no,” she says) and instead put the focus on Ms. Knope’s community spirit.

“Leslie would want her wedding to be as much of a celebration of the people that she’s friends with and the town she’s in as she would in making it about herself,” Schur says.

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But don’t expect a save-the-date just yet. Part of the proposal’s power was that it caught viewers unawares, and Schur says he wants to achieve the same thing with a wedding – if indeed there is one. “The essential element of both comedy and good storytelling in general is surprise,” he notes, “so I would like to believe that the path that we’re choosing to take will be satisfying, but also surprising to people.”

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12 Comments
  1. That was a brilliant scene. I love Amy so much! She is the funniest actress on TV.
    Ben and Leslie are perfect for each other, and Amy and Adam made that scene increatible.

    May Parks and Rec live for another 5 seasons! It just keeps getting better and better.

  2. Tricia says:

    I’m not ashamed to say I cried. I really believe this is the best show on television.

    • Lizabeth says:

      I cried, too! It was a great moment and it really was unexpected. I was bracing myself for a possible Leslie/Ben breakup. Such a fun moment and show.

  3. Ann says:

    Such a perfect proposal. I love Ben and Leslie individually and, especially, together; they are definitely one of my all-time favorite TV couples.

  4. Ace says:

    This will go down as one of my all-time favorite episodes of television. Well done, Parks & Rec team!

  5. jen says:

    I agree. This was a great episode for all the characters, especially Leslie and Ben. I can’t understand why more people aren’t watching this gem of a show.

  6. Spencer says:

    The entire episode was completely brilliant, and this scene had me in tears.

  7. cjeffery7 says:

    my mom gasped like somebody had died when ben got down on one knee lol

    • Trent says:

      I gasped, too! I had NO idea the proposal was coming. I loved the rest of the episode as well — particularly Ron’s Halloween escapade with the girls and Donna live-tweeting “Death Canoe 4″ — but when Ben dropped to his knee I was stunned (and then teared up, and then laughed). Parks & Rec is SUCH a great show!

  8. Lorie says:

    The proposal scene was perfect! It’s crazy that Amy hasn’t won an Emmy yet.

  9. sparrow21 says:

    I literally shrieked and bit my hands not to scream some more… I can’t wait how Leslie would now try to balance three big things. Her Council seat, her work at the Parks Department and then her Wedding… We’ve seen her juggle two big things. There’s her work at the Parks and secret relationship with Ben, Parks and her Campaign. And she’d succeeded in all but one. The Sullivan Pit is still not a park. Am guessing, she’d have troubles at the wedding, and it’d still be perfect (nay, Harvest Fest & The Curse, then Screwed Campaign at the Skiing rink (hilarious as hell)… Am expecting a fall-out with Ann – well, at two minute fall-out at least) Get married this season and please let the opening of Sullivan Pit as a brand new park be the Series Finale! It’s be perfect…

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