A couple of weeks ago, one of the greatest shows on television came to an end. Parks and Recreation (often shortened to Parks and Rec by fans) ran on NBC for seven wonderful season from 2009 to 2015, running a total of 125 episodes. The show had an avid following of viewers who loved tuning in each week to see what new shenanigans were going down in their beloved town of Pawnee, Indiana. Parks and Rec will be missed by myself and countless other fans, so I thought it would only be fitting to dedicate a Stuff Devon Likes post to this wonderful show.
Parks and Recreation is a mockumentary-style comedy about a group of people working in the Parks department of a town in Indiana. Like The Office, the show combines traditional TV style with interlaced, scripted interviews in order to heighten the comedy level and highlight the sheer ridiculousness of the situations the characters find themselves in. One of the recurring themes of the show is the amount of waste, redundancy, and immaturity that can be found in small-town politics, but it isn’t hyper-critical. It just points out these elements of government work that we’ve all heard of and uses them to make us laugh and tell a compelling story.
The main character in Parks and Rec is Leslie Knope, an extremely ambitious government employee. When we meet Leslie, she is the deputy director of the Parks department in her town, and she takes her job very, very seriously. Her ultimate goal is to become the President of the United States, and she uses her ambition to do amazing things in what would be considered by many to be a mundane job. Leslie’s foil is her boss, Ron Swanson. Ron, an old-school carpenter who has an obsession with his own privacy, hates the government, but has somehow found himself in charge of Pawnee’s Parks department. The interplay between Leslie and Ron is very endearing, and it is a big part of what has kept the show engaging over the years.
But the other characters on the show are just as quirky and compelling as Leslie and Ron. The show begins with Leslie meeting Ann, a nurse who quickly becomes her best friend. Ann’s boyfriend Andy (played by one of my favorite actors, Christ Pratt) has fallen into a giant pit next to Ann’s house, and Ann seeks out Leslie’s help in getting Andy the care he needs. Leslie decides to turn the pit into a park, which sets off a fun series of events that ultimately changes things for everyone on the show. Other characters include Tom, a wannabe playboy with an eye for entrepreneurship; Donna, a sassy member of the Parks and Recreation department with a really active Twitter account; Jerry, the show’s scapegoat; April, the angsty intern; Ben, an inspector from out of town with a tragic political history; and Chris, the hyper-positive fitness enthusiast who moves to Pawnee with Ben.
The town of Pawnee itself could also be considered a character in the show. Pawnee is a very strange place. It has one of the highest obesity rates in the country. It’s run by a corrupt government of immature, self-interested politicians. And the population of Pawnee can’t decide if they love Leslie or hate her. They turn on her constantly, but ultimately, she knows that they’re her reason for doing what she does. It’s very inspiring to see someone who cares so much about her community work hard for years to make it better, and ultimately see the positive results for the town and for Leslie herself.
In the end, Parks and Recreation isn’t about corrupt government. It’s the story of a woman who cares about where she lives so much that she’s willing to dedicate her life to improving it. It shows us that one person really can make a difference in the lives of countless people. And it shows us how people can change and grow together into a true family and community. Parks and Rec is funny, it’s quirky, and it’s heart-warming. If you haven’t checked out, give it a shot. Parks and Recreation is available on Netflix or DVD, and you can stream the newest episodes on NBC’s website. Check out Parks and Recreation, and let me know what you think of it. Have a great week, friends!