There’s a lot of comedies that in the past twenty years that have come and gone on television. Some have been cancelled in spite of an amazing first season (Selfie, Wonderfalls, Undeclared, and many more). Others went on a little longer than they probably should have (The Office, How I Met Your Mother). But in the middle was Parks and Recreation. This show ran for seven seasons and aired it’s finale just over a year ago. Ever since I’ve re-watched the entire series twice and can not believe how brilliant the whole show truly was. Today I’ll discuss why Parks and Recreation needs more recognition.
-It Learned From Early Mistakes-
People like to bring up how the first and parts of the second season were a little shaky with how the characters were portrayed. The pseudo love triangle between Leslie (Amy Poehler), Ann (Rashida Jones), and Mark (Paul Schneider) never really committed to a solid storyline and was kind of nebulous. I think this is due to the fact that the writers could never figure out how to pull it off without making Mark out to be a bad guy. They also realized that the friendship between Leslie and Ann was ripe with potential comedic moments. So at the end of season two Mark left the series and we got Ben (Adam Scott) and Chris (Rob Lowe) in return. Thankfully this dropped any romantic competition between Leslie and Ann for the remainder of the series.
-Those Two Seasons Had Amazing Episodes-
While this weak love triangle was playing out there were subplots that progressed and became major plot points in the years to come. In the season 2 episode “Hunting Trip” while the A story was going on we had the B story of April (Aubrey Plaza) and Andy (Chris Pratt) hanging out at the parks office. This B story took these characters and started them on a path that would eventually lead to them getting married. As I spoke about earlier one of the key components that makes the show great is the Leslie/Ann friendship. With the episode “Practice Date” we see Ann helping Leslie prep for a first a date. This was one of the first times we see that Ann is as good a friend to Leslie as Leslie is to her.
-Actual Character Progression-
And now we come to my key point to this entire article. Many television shows run so long that they get to a point where they have to hit the reset button. This forces the characters to regress destroying their growth over numerous seasons. That 70’s Show had gotten to the point where Red respected Eric for making his own life choices in one of the season finales. In the following season’s premiere we returned to the usual status quo. With Parks and Recreation we saw every character grow as the show progressed. Leslie went from an extreme workaholic to a loving wife and mother. Ben overcame his past failures to become an Indiana Congressman.
But most noticeably are the changes in Ron Swanson (Nick Offerman) through the series. Ron started as a very closed off character who was unable to have a healthy romantic relationship. After years of an on again off again relationship with Tammy II (Megan Mullally) he meets Diane (Lucy Lawless) in season five. Through the season we see Ron’s walls begin to fall. He takes care of Diane’s two daughters, becomes more available and less off the grid, and is able to admit he loves her. At the end of the season we find out that Diane is pregnant and in season six’s premiere they’re married. He’s now a full blown father. A complete 180 from his original persona.
So what are your thoughts on Parks and Recreation? Did you like the series? Are you now going to get on Netflix and binge every episode this week? Who’s your favor character?