Parks and Recreation: A Long Ride

parks cast
A waking nightmare of happiness as Leslie Knope would put it, Parks and Rec had the energy and optimism of a kids show, but with humor and wacky characters that I ended growing deeply attached to. I’ve been with this show since day one because I was a fan of it’s sister show The Office and my brother forced me to stick with it. The show started as a knockoff Office with the lovable idiot boss played by Amy Poehler, instead of Steve Carell, but morphed into to something else entirely. It was wonderfully different than everything else on television and while it’s sad to see the show end I’m thankful it got leave leave on its own terms. It’s amazing how humanized and relatable the characters were even though none of them could possible be real. I’d recommend new watchers start at Season 2 because the first 6 episodes don’t reflect where the show ended and can be tough to get through.

An evening of nostalgia brought me to rewatch the pilot and I had forgotten how depressing and awkward the show started off as. Leslie Knope is still hung up on a “relationship” she had 5 years ago with a guy that forgot they hooked up and she’s treated as a joke by everyone in the department.
Leslie – “I’m barely 34 and I’ve already landed a parks department sub committee!”
She only gets the sub committee because someone takes pity on her. Tom and April openly tease her and send photos of her falling into the pit to all the employees. She’s pathetic in the pilot.

The 2nd season was the do or die season and they made Amy Poehler’s character more humanized and respectable, which made her a lot funnier. She went from an enthusiastic loser to enthusiastic winner. The Parks and Rec cast weren’t really mean to each other anymore, except to Jerry Larry Terry Garry, he absorbed all the hate. The mockumentary format was never realistically explained and was used more as a comedic tool for the writers. Seinfeld had a similar rough start before hitting it’s stride Season 2, but the similarities end there. These two shows feature entirely opposite characters and ended on entirely different notes.

Somehow the extreme quirks of the characters, and sometimes complete opposite beliefs, bounce and mesh off each other to create the funfetti adventure of awesomeness that carries Parks and Rec. It’s sister show The Office was more grounded in reality and had the characters find happiness in the little things while drudging through their mundane office jobs.  The characters in Parks and Rec helped each other achieve happiness and most found their dream jobs. I’m not sure which show I love more, but I highly recommend watching both.

NBC

The townsfolk of Pawnee are like Youtube commenters in real life and make the main cast look normal by comparison. The town meetings were some of the best parts of the show. The minor and guest characters are as unique and expansive as the ensemble of Springfield. This show may have more traits in common with cartoons than most regular comedies. There’s not a weak character in the show because they cut the weak characters! Mark Brendanawicz was written off after Season 2, he was the straight man to the cast’s oddity. He never got a callback or mentioned again unfortunately. Rashida Jones played the straight woman whom eventually got cut too! There’s just so much humor and jokes crammed into every scene that I would still laugh knowing the punchline on rewatches.

Netflix really boosted its popularity, but everyone’s acting career skyrocketed after this show and somehow the ratings were always poor. Chris Pratt was being introduced in the first season! This was his first gig and now he’s the hottest actor in Hollywood. From all that I’ve seen from Nick Offerman and Aubrey Plaza in talk shows, it seems like they just acted like exaggerated versions of themselves. Honestly I could probably describe most of the cast this way. This show handled relationships so fast, April and Andy get married out of the blue and I think Ron and Diane dated got married in 4 minutes. I would list off all the things I liked, but after the first season the list would be too long.

The finale was everything a viewer could wish for and provided the ultimate closure. Within all the moments of happiness I think Leslie angry about the library being named after her was my favorite part. The ambiguous ending implying either Ben or Leslie being president was a nice touch as well, but every character had a satisfying ending. I think the Poehler sums up her show quite nicely, “this is a show that’s actually going to be about real people, but a really funny group of characters that would never be friends if they didn’t work together. And ended up being family in so many different ways.”

I only have positive things to say for this positive show. I’m glad I stayed along for the long ride, but it ended up feeling too short by series end. The 7 seasons seemed to flash before my eyes.  I don’t know what to do now that it’s over, maybe I’ll go outside…too a park…for some recreation or I’ll just rewatch it on Netflix.

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