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The Parks And Recreation Scene That Went Too Far

NBC's "Parks and Recreation" had an ensemble balance that helped make it one of TV's most irresistible sitcoms and a defining classic of the post-"The Office" workplace comedy boom. Leslie, Ann, Tom, Ron, April, Andy, Ben, Chris, and Donna each brought something unique and indispensable to the group dynamic on both comedic and emotional levels. Ben's pragmatism and dorkiness offset the eccentricity of Pawneean culture; Leslie's optimism and determination gave everyone the motivation to keep fighting for the good of the town, no matter how maddening their challenges became; Ron Swanson's worldview made him a much-needed dissenting voice; and so on and so forth.

But Jim O'Heir's Garry Gergich — a.k.a. Jerry, Larry, Terry, or Mailman Barry — had arguably the most important role to play on "Parks" — the role of the fool. With all the positivity and sweetness that came to define the show over the course of its run, Garry served as an escape valve for the cast's meaner, less uplifting instincts. And Garry took it all like a champ, from insults to pranks to the senseless belittlement of his contributions to the Parks Department. Given how wonderful his family life was, being the office punching bag didn't faze him — nor did it faze viewers, as the hilarity of Garry's misadventures made up for the group's mean-spiritedness, for the most part. Still, there was one particular scene where the characters' treatment of Garry went so far that it almost stopped being funny altogether.

The ridicule of Garry's mural design was simply heartbreaking

In the Season 2 episode "The Camel," the City Council of Pawnee is throwing an inter-department contest to pick a new mural design for the town hall. As each department can only submit one design, Leslie brings the Parks Department together to pick one submission for the contest, but Ann's, Tom's, and Donna's designs are all subpar.

The only good submission comes from Garry, at that point still known by the incorrect name "Jerry." He recreates the Pawnee Town Hall in a pointillist style, using nothing but pictures of Pawnee residents. It's a gorgeous, meaningful design — but, as he's showing it to the group and explaining how it was inspired by his grandmother's passing, he accidentally calls it his "murinal." Tom, April, Ann, and Donna interrupt his explanation and begin to ceaselessly mock him; after he confesses that he "just wanted to show [them] [his] art," they double down, chanting "Murinal! Murinal!" until Leslie bangs the metaphorical gavel and yells "Disqualified!" Then, a few moments later, when Garry's explaining his design to the documentary crew, Tom yells "No one cares! At all!" from the other room.

Most scenes with Garry as the butt of the joke involved some form of physical comedy or mischievous creativity, but the "murinal" scene was simply grueling, and even heartbreaking, to watch. As mistreated as he was throughout the show, no other "Parks and Rec" scene had the characters ganging up on Garry and bullying him so aggressively. For that reason, fans usually remember this moment as the one time the show crossed a line into pointless, unpleasant cruelty.