If you are anything like us, you've been in denial about Rob Lowe and Rashida Jones exiting "Parks and Recreation" since it was officially announced last July. Maybe you even literally pouted a little when Lowe tweeted last week about the cast completing the onscreen couple's emotional and final table read, or announced Sunday that this was his "last week as Chris Traeger." It's ok to admit it. You're in good company.
Our thoughts exactly (sob!):
"It's really sad. I'm really bummed to lose them and to send them off to their great big beyond," Amy Poehler lamented at an on-set Q&A Monday in Studio City, Calif., following a press screening of this week's two hilarious episodes. "It's hard. You never feel like you're saying goodbye to family when they move somewhere else, and we're a really tight family here, but you just know you won't see them as much as you have or you'd like to."
Lowe shares a photo from his last scene with the men of "Parks and Rec":
"Parks" creator Mike Schur started to describe Rashida and Lowe's last episode, which will air after the Winter Olympics in February, as "very sad in places" when Poehler interrupted passionately, "It is so good. That's cheesy maybe for us to say. Is that lame, to say it's so good?"
Adam Scott concurred, "No, I think we all know that the show's good. It's really, really funny, too! But the table read was tough."
Apparently not for Nick Offerman. Perhaps channeling his stoic, no-nonsense character Ron Swanson, he cracked from the power seat of the Pawnee city council chamber, "A lot of people are feeling emotional about it, but I think it's stupid. I don't care."
Schur offered proof of his nonchalance. "After [the table read] ended, a lot of people were hugging and stuff, and Nick was looking around going, 'Are we not going to talk about the huge Act 2 problem?' He just sat in my office, defiantly cross-legged, waiting for me."
Scott added that when everyone was hugging and crying, Nick leaned back in his chair and flipped double birds while Poehler praised his practical assessment of the sendoff. "Nick had the best quote, which was, 'I think our show just got about 85 percent less attractive.'"
Not one to miss a joke setup, Offerman added, "The good news is I move up to No. 8."
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They were also quick to reassure that the Pawnee city hall door is always open. "Knowing our show, no one ever really leaves — we still call people back that did stuff in the first and second season. So I'm certain that Rob and Rashida will make their way back to Pawnee as many times as we can drag them," Poehler said.
And after all, we're pretty sure they aren't going to be killed off in a very special sixth-season episode of the NBC sitcom. Most likely, they will just move to a bigger, more forward-thinking town to raise their child, as established in an episode a few weeks ago. "We've talked about the episodes after Ann leaves, and it's not like [Ann] leaves and Leslie will never mention her name again," Schur explained. "There will be some episodes where she deals with the ripple of Ann leaving — we're writing that episode right now. Ann is a huge part of her support network, but there are a lot of other pillars. [Leslie] isn't going to go spinning off into the galaxy. There is a lot tethering her to the universe."
As sad as they are personally, Poehler admitted the sendoff of Leslie Knope's bestie and her baby daddy has felt the opposite professionally. "It's been really fun comedy to play Leslie's various reactions to Ann's news, and we have a lot more ahead of Leslie dealing with Ann leaving, Ben dealing with Chris leaving, and all of us having to figure out our feelings about it," Poehler said. "I think it's going to be interesting. Ben is realizing how difficult it will be having to be all things [to Leslie]. I like that 'Parks' always isn't afraid to jump off the cliff. We didn't spend six seasons just talking about what would happen. Things keep happening."
When asked about plans to write in a new best friend for Leslie, perhaps even new Ann from Eagleton, Schur explained that everyone feels that immediately trying to replace a character who has been there since the 2009 pilot would ring false. "Part of the fun of the show is that was a five-year friendship we told in 20-minute chunks, and it would be crazy of us to just bring in someone else and go, 'Now it's this lady. Everything's the same.' It just doesn't work that way."
It was now Poehler's turn to channel her character. "No one will ever replace Ann, and even suggesting it is disgusting," she said, shaking her head before shifting into producer mode. "Unfortunately, there is a lack of real female friendships represented on television that make any sense. Sometimes women are friends in a show and you're like, 'How the f--- are they friends? They hate each other, have nothing in common, and are awful to each other.' Leslie and Ann are true friends in a way you can understand. I'm very proud of that friendship. It is one of the many beating hearts of our show."
Watch previews of the next two episodes:
"Parks and Recreation" returns to NBC Nov. 14 with back-to-back episodes "Filibuster" and "Recall Vote" starting at 8 p.m.
- Arts & Entertainment
- Amy Poehler
- Rob Lowe
- Rashida Jones