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The Delightful ‘Parks And Recreation’ Reunion Was Full Of Callbacks, But Left Out A Signature Quote

Within the first five minutes of the Parks and Recreation reunion special, we see Bobby Newport wearing a “Knope 2012” pullover, Ben Wyatt pulling out his stop-motion “would a depressed person make this?” doll and Cones of Dunshire board game (all while wearing a Letters to Cleo shirt), and every character’s Gryzzl points. The episode, the show’s first since February 2015, is full of callbacks and references to Parks‘ original seven-season run, including Andy’s Johnny Karate get-up and Lil’ Sebastian shirt, a reprise of Mouse Rat’s “5,000 Candles in the Wind,” and in-universe episodes of At Home with Joan (a lonely step down from Pawnee Today) and Ya Heard? With Perd!

But one thing it’s missing is arguably the show’s most enduring quote: treat yo’ self.

It was a genuine delight to see Aziz Ansari and Retta on-screen again as soulmates Tom Haverford and Donna Meagle, and while there was plenty of talk about Bali and the importance of teachers (all of whom deserve a brand-new Mercedes), I kept expecting them to drop a “treat yo’ self,” but they never did. We did get “clink” noises, though. This is not a complaint, as I didn’t want the reunion special to only be wink-wink nods to fans, but it is genuinely surprising, as Treat Yo’ Self is now a holiday. It’s a quote that even non-Parks fans know and use, like how Homer Simpson’s “d’oh” is part of the lexicon.

“Treat yo’ self” even appeared on the show’s official Twitter before the special.

I wonder if it’s because, frankly, Aziz and Retta are probably sick of it. As Parks writer Alan Yang, who came up with the phrase (and directed this year’s Tigertail) said in 2018, “I apologize to Retta and Aziz because the amount of times they get yelled at on the street I’m sure is annoying. But it’s really fun! You’re writing for a sitcom on a network — why not have a catchphrase?” Hearing at least one “treat yo’ self” wouldn’t have made the reunion any better or worse, and besides, it didn’t need to be said; a new episode of Parks and Recreation, even through a virtual reunion, was already a treat (yo’ self).