Total Plaid Appearances (worn/accessorized by our regulars): 133
Average Plaid Appearances Per Episode: 6.05 (just a 1% decrease from last season)
Plaidest Pawneean: Jerry, with 38 — a single-season record.Jerry wore plaid in all but one episode, and even saved us from devastation in this season’s…
Closest Call: 5x14 - Sure yeah whatever, Ben and Leslie got married this episode. But what everyone will really remember is how close we came to breaking a 76-episode streak of plaidliness, only to be saved by one Mr. Jerry Gergich. Thanks to his efforts we’re now at 85 straight episodes in which a character has sported plaid.
Individual Achievement in Plaid: Tom broke the single-episode record by wearing plaid five times in 5x08. And he looked damn good doing it.
The “Only Good Thing to Ever Come Out Of Eagleton” Award: Balloon Leslie’s plaid balloon shirt. Also, yes, I guess Balloon Leslie herself. And Balloon Ben.
The “Get It Together, Man” Award: From running away with the top spot in Season 2 and tying for first in Season 3, Andy has fallen oh so far, wearing a meager three plaids all season. This will not do, sir! Just…get it together, man.
As you can see, we’ve had a bit of a tapering off since Season 3, but just seeing that one data point way up at the top gives me hope of new horizons in plaid.
Also, for anyone who cares (No one? Oh, okay), the exponential trendline here fits better than a linear one, but still only has an R2 value of less than 0.25. So it’s a pretty terrible fit, but I like it there anyway. Deal with it, nerds. (Still just me? Got it.)
And now for this season’s Plaid Superlatives, chosen not by numbers, but by my plaid-loving heart.
Greatest Plaid Ascendance: Chris Traeger
Chris has started to embrace the plaid just a little bit, so ”greatest” here is relative. And unfortunately, he seems to only be embracing this one tie. You can do better than this, Chris. Who knows, maybe they make plaid Bumbleflex.
Worst Plaid Plunge: Andy Dwyer
This one really breaks my heart. I still can’t believe Andy only wore plaid a dozen times this season. Look, I love Andy and April together and apart, but I can’t ignore the fact that their wardrobes have changed for the worse since they got married. Maybe it’s not my place to say, but I think they desperately need couples plaid counseling before the plaid disappears altogether. Anyway, I’m blaming Jerry.
Individual Achievement in Plaid: Tom Haverford and Jean-Ralphio Saperstein
Entertainment 720 gave us iPads, DJ Bluntz, and more Detlef Schrempf, but its greatest contribution to the world was definitely this.
Plaid MVP: Ben Wyatt
Even though he failed to wear plaid in three episodes, Ben again takes the highest prize simply for wearing four plaids in a single episode, a feat never before achieved. And he did this twice! (4x13 and 4x16) Plus, look at those colors! And that coat!
Most Tear-Inducing Plaid: Andy Dwyer
The setting, the emotions, the embrace…all of them get the eyes misty, but it’s the plaid that really makes this shot.
The “You May Have a Problem” Award: Leslie Knope
Remember that time I said I’d get back to you next week and then I didn’t update for a month? Yeah…we can’t all be Leslie Knope, I guess…
While Season 3 was the pinnacle of plaidliness, Season 4 has been much more erratic, with not just the highest per episode high—by a wide margin, too—but the lowest lows since Season 1. It was like Pawnee all got on the same laundry cycle, where they’d run out of clean plaid at the same time and be stuck with only the miserable solids and stripes at the bottom of their dresser drawers. Let’s hope in Season 5 we get more stability, and just more plaid in general.
Alright, on to the stats (although you guys have had this data for a month, so I’m sure you’ve done your own analysis by now, right?):
Total Plaid Appearances (worn/accessorized by our regulars): 135
Average Plaid Appearances Per Episode: 6.14 (a 19% decrease from last season)
Plaidest Pawneean: Jerry - Andy’s reign as Plaid King finally came to an end with a devastating plummet to fifth place, while Ben and Jerry had another photo finish. Jerry surged ahead in the final episodes to win by just a single plaid.
Plaidest Episode: 4x01 - Giving us all false hopes of a plaid high we’d never come down from, the season opener featured a whopping 17 plaids.
Largest Plaid Spread: 4x16 - "Sweet Sixteen" featured eight of the ten regulars in plaid. Everyone but Ann and Leslie celebrated Jerry’s birthday with his favorite fabric.
Smallest Plaid Spread: 4x09 & 4x21 - Twice in Season 4 the plaid duties fell on just one main character. In 4x09, Ben kept hope alive with a single plaid shirt, and in 4x21 it was Jerry’s turn to pull everyone else’s dead weight.
Longest Plaid Streak: Ben’s perfect plaid attendance that began when he came to Pawnee was ruined in 4x04. But despite missing two other episodes, he still had the season’s longest streak—9 episodes—from 4x12 to 4x20.
Overall Season 2 Plaid Saturation (episode-wise): 100%, but with many close calls. The show’s holding on to its post-Season 1 streak by a very thin plaid thread. Thank plaid for Jerry and Ben.
Overall Season 3 Plaid Saturation (outfit-wise): Once again, this is only an estimate, but assuming each main character wears an average of two outfits per episode, that’s 440 total ensembles this season. Almost 31% of them contained plaid (last season was 6% higher).
CONCLUSIONS: A roller coaster of plaid sounds way more fun than it is.