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Prime-time shout-outs to one of the most cult-beloved indie bands of the past 20 years shouldn’t surprise too much. [Insert lengthy rant about the culture industry, and people creating culture pitched toward the masses while consuming culture that they think is “better,” here.] Particularly in the context of the sterling NBC sitcom Parks & Recreation, whose Aziz Ansari has been a fixture on Stereogum since the Internet Dark Ages of 2005. But the running plotline on last night’s episode about one half of the recently married couple April & Andy’s love for Neutral Milk Hotel was still really funny!
The context was a fake game show run by Tom, the Ansari character, that was pretty much a ripoff of The Newlywed Game. The first gag, involving the sexiness of main NMH man Jeff Mangum, was chuckle-worthy, but the second one–which involves the transformation of Neutral Milk Hotel into a place where “smooshing” (it’s a Jersey Shore thing) happens–will probably inspire some sort of retaliatory lodging venue to be set up at the Mangum-assisted ATP this fall. It’s even on the shore!
Thankfully, the sparring couple worked things out by episode’s end. Although we didn’t get to hear the title track off Neutral Milk Hotel’s second album as the briefly troubled couple reconciled.