Tonight's Parks and Recreation features a cameo from First Lady Michelle Obama, which is all well and good. It also features appearances by Yo La Tengo, Jeff Tweedy, The Decembrists and others as part of a music festival thrown by the show's characters. Here, Parks is wading into much trickier territory, which has dogged good and bad shows alike—when you invite a "cool" band onto your show, are you hopelessly dating your show forever and ever? I like Yo La Tengo and Jeff Tweedy, but it could easily be argued that both are out of their primes at this point. There are too many examples of this troubling phenomenon to comprehensively cover, but we picked out some juicily embarrassing examples.
Rooney, The O.C.
It made sense that The O.C. featured a good hundred thousand bands performing live on the show in its four seasons. The show was so geared around its soundtrack albums, and the first pop hits to provide backing tracks for the show were pretty much ripped right from creator Josh Schwartz's iPod. But the guest appearance by the basically unknown Rooney in the first season was the first and most memorable time Schwartz pointed his cameras at a band he enjoyed. Memorable mostly because no one had ever heard of Rooney, but everyone on the show is so excited to see Rooney. Rooney! The episode has a little fun with the fact that lunkhead Luke gets very excited despite having obviously never heard of Rooney before, but I sympathize with the guy. To this day, I could not tell you one thing about Rooney.
The Shins, Gilmore Girls
It's worth noting that this guest appearance came a good six months or so before Garden State came out and The Shins saved Natalie Portman, Zach Braff, and everyone else in America's lives. But this is another form of musical guest appearance that I just cannot abide. We're just suddenly treated to a four-minute concert from some band we might or might not care about. It feels like a more artistic form of product placement, and no matter how much I enjoy the band, it's almost always disruptive to the episode. Gilmore Girls also did this with The Bangles in the first season, structuring a whole episode around a Bangles concert, but that was just too dorky to hate.