Parks and Recreation first aired in 2009, using the same Cinema Verite film style as The Office. It may have been easy to dismiss Parks as a rip off but it shouldn’t be underestimated. The show was about Leslie Knope, a bureaucrat in the Parks Department of the fictional town of Pawnee, Indiana and her coworkers. The characters were strong and many could easily carry the show on their own. If you have never seen Parks and Recreation, you really missed out on one of the few great network TV sitcoms of the past decade and you should really start binge watching it now (but maybe skip the last season).
My only real criticism of the first 6 seasons is that it started to rely too heavily on quirky characters and inevitably made them a bit annoying.
The characters and relationships that made this show so great were:
Ron Swanson, the sarcastic and masculine government employee who ironically hates the government and technology, but loves meat, breakfast at J.J.’s Diner and construction.
April, the quirky, sardonic real-life Daria and Andy, the dense but endearing big-kid, quickly married after finally admitting their feelings for one another. What was so great about their relationship was they never made a big deal about it. They got married and there was no real drama around these characters after that. They were the perfect quirky couple. I really loved both of these characters separately but they were even better together.
Tom and Donna: Tom’s confidence and over -the-top obsession with pop culture, social status and money made Donna, the confident heavy-set black woman with similar interests, the perfect match for a hilarious duo.
Chris Traeger, the upbeat, health conscious, energetic character played by Rob Lowe was intentionally annoying and hilarious at the same time. He was perfectly portrayed by Lowe.
Jerry/Terry/Garry: Garry’s character served only one purpose: to the butt of all of the offices jokes and he did it well.
Leslie and Ben’s relationship was seriously adorable. Period.
Leslie and Ann’s friendship: It often seemed like Leslie forced her friendship on Ann but their relationship was realistic and funny. They balanced each other out perfectly. On her own, the character of Ann would be disposable but she seemed to be created just for Leslie. What girl wouldn’t long to find their Ann?
This brings me to the 7th and final season of Parks and Recreation which was a complete waste of time. The end of season 6 jumped ahead 3 years and perfectly wrapped up the show and the characters’ lives. This would have been the perfect ending but the show was renewed for another season and it seemed that the writers wrote themselves right into a hole. How did they get out of it? By continuing the story in the future, of course… I stuck with the show throughout the last season despite my annoyance because I loved the show and I felt it deserved a chance. I might as well see where this was all going. I won’t even get started on the abortion that the Johnny Karate episode was … I’ll move along to the finale.
They ended the last episode of the final season by jumping around throughout the different times in the future with each character, some even until their death. This bothered me for two reasons: 1. It wasn’t necessary. While I love these characters, Parks was a comedy. There wasn’t supposed to be any real emotional investment here. They made it too serious. This is isn’t Six Feet Under; I don’t need to see how these characters go on in time and even in death. 2. It just understood that these characters are being filmed by someone for some reason, even though they didn’t directly address it like they did in The Office. If that is the case, how and why would they be filming so many years into the future? This annoyed me even more when they decided to say “that’s a wrap” at the very end of the credit.
Despite my rant on the final season of Parks and Recreation, I genuinely liked this show and I will miss especially miss tuning in to see what kind of hijinks Ron, Andy, and April are up to. I hope the reruns are syndicated for years to come.