An Annotated Guide to Last Nights ‘Parks and Recreation’ David Foster Wallace References


Yesterday, Parks and Recreation showrunner Michael Schur alerted us via tweet that last night’s episode would include “a few IJ references. [“A few” = like 18]).” While it seems a little strange for the show — we can’t imagine any of the characters (other than Ben, maybe) having a working knowledge of David Foster Wallace’s epic postmodern novel — it makes total sense for Michael Schur, an established fan, who directed The Decemberists’s Eschaton-themed video. Ultimately, the references amounted to name dropping, with only one really good joke, but we still got a lot of nerdy fun out of looking for them. After the jump, we break down all the David Foster Wallace references we spotted in last night’s episode of Parks and Rec. Did we miss any? Let us know what else you noticed in the comments.

When horrible, horrible Councilman Jamm takes Ron Swanson to court for punching him in the face, we get a peek inside his law firm, which seems to be comprised of one Don Gately (onetime thief and drug addict, resident counselor at Ennet House), and three students (or ex-students, we suppose, if they’re lawyers) from Enfield Tennis Academy: John “No Relation” Wayne, the top ranked player in Hal’s day, sportscasting enthusiast Jim Troeltsch, and psychotic Eschaton player Ann Kittenplan. We don’t think there’s any reason that all of these people are together here, they just all have fun, recognizable names.

For their part, Ann and Chris are trying to decide whether or not they’re fit to become parents by taking the “Incandeza-Pemulis Parenting Compatability Quiz,” a detail that made us snort out loud. After all, the Incandezas and The Pemulises are definitely among the least capable parents in literature (abuse, alcoholism, suicide, the gamut).

They head to Ann’s fertility counselor (more on her later), who works in the C.T. Tavis Medical Center, named perhaps for Charles Tavis — head of Enfield, lover and possible half-brother of Avril Incandenza, possible father of Mario. Many possibilities.

Ann’s fertility counselor turns out to be a Doctor Van Dyne, who seems neither to be Hideously and Improbably Deformed nor the PGOAT, but whom we might believe (with some costuming) as a “Madame Psychosis.” Is her first name Joelle? We shall never know, but we bet it is.

Ben ends up in the hospital with kidney stones. Which hospital, you ask? Well, Fackelmann Memorial Hospital, which clearly got a big donation from Gately’s old friend and partner in crime Fax. Actually — without giving anything away — we suppose it must be someone else in the family.

Also of interest: Ben’s doctor at old Fackelmann Memorial is a Doctor Clipperton, who freely administers the morphine. What this has to do with Eric Clipperton, the 16-year-old tennis player who, er, shot to the top of the standings by pulling out a gun and holding it to his own head during matches, intimidating the hell out of his opponents, we don’t know.

Ben’s hospital stay sends Leslie to the “celebration” planned in his honor by Partridge’s Mayor Stice — that’s Ortho “The Darkness” Stice, we presume. He seems to have incorporated a little gray into his ensemble, but that’s only to be expected with age and perspective.

During the ceremony, Leslie is heckled by two random townspeople, whom the credits identify as Kate Gompert and Ken Erdedy — both weed addicts from Ennet House, and thus not to be trusted.