Parks and Recreation was the definite underdog of the NBC comedy world. In a time where 30 Rock and Community were at the helm of all things funny, it took a lot of chutzpah for the network to take on this humble comedy. Seven seasons later, we’ve seen the rise and fall of Joan Callamezzo, the marriage of three different sets of unlikely coworkers and the endless but lovable mistake that is Gary/Jerry/Larry/Terry/Garry Gergich form one of the most memorable comedies of recent years. As we’re about to take our last walk through Pawnee’s City Hall where the walls are laden with offensive portrayals of Wamapoke people, it’s time to take a look back and list the nine reasons why Parks and Recreation is one of the most addictive comedies on television.
- Ron Swanson is probably the best television character of all time
A man so complex, where the only thing bigger than his legacy is his glorious moustache. Ron freaking Swanson is hands down one of the most well-written, multidimensional characters in comedy history. From the basic, anti-government libertarian that we meet in Season 1 to the riddle-loving, occasionally fragile, sax-playing father figure he exposes himself to be throughout the series. Ron shows us that masculinity and strength needn’t be overt and abrasive. In fact, his masculinity is the centre of the comic appeal of his character, making sure that despite his position of power, he was never domineering over the predominantly female cast.
- We have Parks and Rec to thank for launching Chris Pratt
Before Chris Pratt was guarding the galaxy, fighting dinosaurs and (hopefully) being a Spielberg-helmed Indiana Jones, he was lovable goofball Andy Dwyer. Not only did Pratt add an incessantly optimistic dimension to the show but also some of his best moments were improvised, for example:
- Character development is flawless
In the first season, Andy was an unemployed no-hoper, Tom was a chauvinistic, self-obsessed dickhead and Leslie was focused on her career and “steam-rolling” her way to whatever she wanted. Seven seasons later, these people have a television show, a bistro, a very high-ranking national parks job and have developed serious respect for one another just as we have through watching it. Your move, Glee.
- TREAT YO SELF
- In Pawnee, the patriarchy is dead
In a fictional town in Southern Indiana, powerful women dominate the local government scene. Whether it’s the determination of Leslie Knope, the fearlessness of April Ludgate-Dwyer or even the sexual assertion of Tammy Swanson. Each woman in the cast possesses an individual type of power and confidence that makes Parks and Recreation a feminist comedy for the ages.
6. Donna Meagle
Not once is Donna’s size ever used as the butt of a joke. Not only does this prove Parks and Rec diverts from easy humour, but they’ve given what was once a minor character an incredibly confident voice that has gradually become the go-to fountain of knowledge for all characters. Not to mention the forever classic: “I’ve been to South America, I did very well there.”
- There’s a little bit of all of us in the entire cast
It’s not often that a comedy comes along with such an extensive cast that also mirrors different facets of our personality perfectly. Parks and Rec has managed to do exactly that. While each character represents a different type of extreme, there’s something genuine and normal in each of them. Their relationships, their personalities and their irrepressible love of breakfast food is something we can all relate to.
- Amy Poehler is a comedic genius
Tina Fey’s BFF made a huge risk trying to make a comedy centred around local government, but it has 100 per cent worked in her favour. Not only was the show always centred on something to do with the politics of Pawnee but it allowed Poehler to stay on the cusp of pop culture and current affairs in the US without seeming like she was trying too hard. She managed to give every character a progressively complex storyline that developed with interplay, while subtly informing us about the true* goings on behind our city hall’s doors.
*Probably not true.
The first 6 episodes of Parks and Recreation are much like the character of Jean-Ralphio Saperstein: completely unbearable and uncomfortable. I remember watching the first episodes and wondering how the hell it made it to a second season but I’m so glad it did. They managed to change up the format, make Leslie Knope a much more powerful woman and give Pawnee a makeover it so desperately required. Since then, each season has gotten progressively better, especially with the addition of Adam Scott and Rob Lowe but it has never forgotten its roots. Now, we say bye bye (Lil Sebastian) to Pawnee and all its lovable/hateable faces but the legacy the show has left will last long after we stop watching, much like the effect of Attack by Dennis Feinstein.
GIFs: Parks and Recreation, NBC