This post contains spoilers through the February 16 episode of Parks and Recreation.
Okay, I’m not going to lie: if I were offered a real-life choice between Adam Scott and Louis C.K., both of whom I have seen in the flesh, it would not be an easy decision for me. So I sympathize with Leslie when Officer Dave Sanderson returns from San Diego intent on winning her back from boyfriend and campaign manager Ben Wyatt. Particularly because watching those two gentlemen square off for her affections in competing comedic cycles was easily the best part of an episode that was otherwise largely recapitulated Mouserat and Duke Silver jokes, and what Vulture has articulately dissected as the show’s Ann Perkins problem. Because the prospect of Ann allowing herself to be brow-beaten into dating Tom depresses me more than I want to contemplate, herewith let me present the official Alyssa Rosenberg Guide to Picking Between Ben and Dave:
Pro Ben: He’ll manage your campaign, has good instincts for the attack, a handy grasp of fiscal policy, and the ability to assimilate into a community by eventually coming to love tiny horses.
Con Ben: He’s got that awful political legacy trailing behind him. And there’s the scandal thing, if Pawnee voters end up caring about that. Occasionally condescending.
Pro Dave: He will likely be able to hand out reelection endorsement after reelection endorsement to you after he becomes sheriff and you become member of the city council. Also, he can probably get you Bobby’s file for negative ads.
Con Dave: Unlikely to be able to keep you calm during a contentious focus group.
Pro Ben: He will punch people who call you a bitch. Will do sexual roleplay where he pretends to be various presidents.
Con Ben: Crying Batman.
Pro Dave: “I was thinking that I would cuff him and that I would have time to speak with you and you would decide to speak with me and then we’d come back and uncuff him together.” Uses feminism to try to win you back, if kind of clumsily. Ron Swanson would probably approve.
Con Dave: That tendency to abuse police power might not be so awesome in the long run. Plus, suggests that your ex is secretly super-effeminate, which are not the actions of a confident man.
Ben: Twitchy indignation, be it over budgets, mini-horses, or science fiction and fantasy.
Dave: Folksy understatement: “We had a romantical involvement until I relocated to San Diego…which is southwest of here by a number of miles.”