TVLine's Performer of the Week: Parks and Recreation's Amy Poehler

Amy Poehler Performance of Week

A weekly feature in which we spotlight shining stars

THE PERFORMER | Amy Poehler

THE SHOW | Parks and Recreation

THE EPISODES | “2017”/”Ron and Jammy”

THE AIRDATE | January 13, 2015

THE PERFORMANCE | In the first two episodes of Parks‘ final season, Leslie finds herself going up against friend-turned-foe Ron Swanson. The problem? Ron’s competing against Leslie to obtain a whole lotta land. The other problem? Leslie has no money to offer the (already) wealthy Newports, making her chances of outbidding Ron fairly microscopic.

While this major wrinkle in Leslie’s professional life had us pitying Poehler’s alter ego, we were thrilled to watch the actress shift effortlessly from joy to rage to desperation and back again within the span of an hour.

Even at Leslie’s most socially awkward, Poehler has always made Ms. Knope a character we can root for, and that skill was on full display in Tuesday’s premiere. Whether talking to Ron through gritted teeth (“Hello, former strange person I used to friend”) or earnestly lobbying the Newports to let her turn their land into a national park they can be proud of, Poehler used every minute to show off a remarkable range.

In the second half-hour, Poehler was completely in her comedic element. Her spot-on Megan Mullally impersonation brought us back to her Saturday Night Live glory days (Dakota Fanning, anyone?), and as Leslie slapped Councilman Jamm time and again, Poehler was as committed as ever to making us laugh.

Poehler may not have much longer to showcase her talents on Parks and Rec, but if this week’s dazzling performance was any indication, we’re going to enjoy the ride while it lasts.

HONORABLE MENTION | Control-Alt-DeleteFrom the instant that Person of Interest‘s Root peeled off her ski mask and revealed herself to Control, Amy Acker made evident a gritty new resolve to her already formidable femme. In the wake of Shaw’s apparent execution, Root is out for, at the very least, revenge, and at most, proof that her very special gal pal somehow survived. But it was two wildly contrasting scenes that socked us in the stomach, as Acker went from determined torturer to, in the episode’s final moments, a badass visibly and atypically rocked by this loss to her dark world.

HONORABLE MENTION | “This Two Half Men Kutcherisn’t your fault. You didn’t do anything wrong.” Little did we expect our hearts to crumble into a million tiny pieces by Two and a Half Men, but Ashton Kutcher gave a rare, emotionally vulnerable performance when Walden thought he was losing his foster son forever. (Yes, we know we’re talking about The Actor Formerly Known as Michael Kelso!) Ms. McMartin would have only been doing her job had she removed li’l Louis from the Schmidt-Harper residence after finding out Walden and Alan’s marriage was a sham, but in that moment, there was no denying how much Walden had grown to love the six-year-old as his own. Kutcher gave the scene his all, and did not disappoint.

unnamed-2HONORABLE MENTION | Glee is swinging for the fences in its final season, and its latest twist — Coach Beiste has decided to transition from a woman to a man — allowed one of the series’ second-tier actors, Dot Jones, to finally play in the big league. It’s always refreshing to see Coach Beiste’s softer side, and she’s never appeared more vulnerable than when she broke down and told Sue and Sam the truth about her plan to transition. By keeping her performance relatively small, forcing back tears and only allowing for a slight quiver in her voice, Jones exhibited the incredible strength one needs to undergo such a change.

What performances rocked your TV set this week? Sound off below!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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29 Comments
  1. Spence says:

    I am a gigantic fan of Parks and Amy Poehler, but I have to disagree. The two episodes were enjoyable of course, but nothing about them garnered any accolades for Amy. However, epsidoes later into the final season when emotions are higher, that is when I’m sure Amy and the entire cast will deserve performer of the week.

  2. rosierat says:

    Amy Poehler and Tina Fey are THE most amazing comic actresses on the planet-gifted writers, actors -they can do anything!!!!Man, have they blossomed since SNL although they were head and shoulders above all except Gilda

  3. Riana says:

    No love for Victoria Justice?

  4. Joey says:

    I don’t watch Person of Interest, but anytime you give props to Amy Acker, I’m on board for it.

    • Enter the State says:

      I think there’s about 10 or 12 episodes of Person of Interest where Amy Acker deserves performer of the week. Incredible worker, indeed. Also, AJ Cook has gone from a facilitator to a key ingredient. Nobody matches the brooding intensity of Ming-Na Wen on Agents of Shield, though!

  5. SB says:

    Naya Rivera. For her portrayal of Santana’s heartfelt proposal to Brittany and her verbal smack-down of Kurt. She ran the gamut of acting in one episode.

  6. JJ says:

    I watch both parks and rec and person of interest, and I think while both Amy’s were great this week, Amy Acker’s performance was absolutely astonishing.

  7. liquidhyperspace says:

    I’ll never get tired of saying this: Amy Acker for all the awards.

    P.S. An Emmy would be nice for starters. Please, in the name of the machine, make it happen.

  8. Kim R says:

    I also thought that A.J. Cook on Criminal Minds was amazing this week as her PTSD made itself evident to all of us. She’s got my vote.

  9. Khael says:

    ‘Gal Pal’ Sure Jan…

  10. juno says:

    My vote goes to Amy Acker for this one..that was just topnotch acting..also agree with the others on AJ Cook..she deserves an honorable mention as well..

  11. Ram510 says:

    I sit think Amy should be performer of the week. She shouldn’t even be an honorable mention either. Nothing was outstanding in those 2 episodes from her

  12. me says:

    I don’t think any of these were performances that were any better than what they did before. It’s just wish-fulfillment on the part of tvline writers. Enjoying what’s happening to the characters thanks to the shows’ writers and enjoying actors perform are two different things. Maybe you should start awarding episode of the week to make the distinction clear.

  13. DarkDefender says:

    I would have given Matt Ryan and HM for his crazy good performance on this week’s Constantine.

  14. brittany says:

    “gal pal” come on, guys. get it together.

  15. redjane12 says:

    I do not watch the other shows but Amy Acker is definitely killing it in Person of Interest. From the beginning she has managed masterfully the different, often contradictory, sometimes cartoonish, facets of her character Root, infusing her with enough emotion, madness, intelligence and cunning to make it all believable. A less capable actor would have made Root into a farce but Acker is just sensational. Great to see her get recognition here.

  16. Ashley says:

    I’m genuinely surprised by the lack of, at least, an honorable mention for AJ Cook. As a sufferer of PTSD, I thought her performance was raw and honest. A very good performance.

  17. I would say Matt Ryan, for obvious reasons, and Harold Perrineau, for showing more emotional range in five minutes than Amy Poehler was able to in an entire episode.

  18. MementoVitae says:

    “very special gal pal” lol
    Oh TVLine… you beautiful, naive, sophisticated, newborn baby.