When Parks & Recreation first made its debut on NBC, I wasn’t really a fan. I thought Mark Brendanawicz (yeah, not how I thought that was spelled btw) was a much less likable Jim Halpert, it was trying to be too much like The Office, and Leslie Knope was a little too crazy. But like most great TV shows, they should not necessarily be judged by the pilot. The Hubbster and I gave it a second chance after we first moved out to DC and it was on Netflix. Boy am I glad we did, because it’s now one of my favorite shows. Period.
The first season is only six episodes, and they serve more as an extended pilot/introductory to that world than as a complete season. You get to know the characters a little bit and they establish some basic story lines and conflicts, but not a lot actually happens. As a result, Season 2 is completely different, and by the 3rd season they totally hit their stride. I think the Hubbster and I have watched Season 3 of Parks & Rec at least 7 times. Might be more, though. Seriously. It’s that funny. And it continues to be one of the best and funniest shows on television (in my opinion) for a myriad of reasons:
- All of the characters are really passionate about something. I read an interview with co-creator Michael Schur awhile back (though for the life of me I can’t seem to find it again) where he said that one of the reasons the show works is that each character really cares about something. I had never really thought about that before, but it’s true. And once they scooted Leslie into the “passionate about serving the people” box and out of the “obsessed with Mark and a little nutty about parks” box in Season 2, I was officially hooked.
- Ron. F***ing. Swanson. There are so many amazing things that Nick Offerman does with this character, I don’t even think I could even try list them all. He has amazing one-liners that he milks the crap out of. He has an awesome Tom Selleck mustache, and he throw in things like “The Swanson Pyramid of Greatness.”
- April & Andy are perfect for each other. It wasn’t planned for April and Andy to become a couple. But when they are in a scene together, it just makes sense. She is completely apathetic and unemotional on the outside, and he is like a big kid. They feed off of each other so well comedically and emotionally, and they just steal your heart.
- Replacing Mark with Ben & Chris was a beyond brilliant move. From the first time Rob Lowe and Adam Scott stepped into a scene, they took the ensemble to an entirely new level. Their juxtaposition of personalities as a budget specializing duo (with Chris being super positive and Ben being a practical buzz kill) allowed them to present a complicating story line without necessarily being the antagonists. Plus, I love the way Rob Lowe pronounces “literally.”
- Ben & Leslie forever. I think that I love Ben and Leslie even more than Jim and Pam. And it’s partly because it wasn’t dragged out so much. They had their trials and tribulations (plus a literal trial when they came clean about their relationship to Chris, the city manager) but there wasn’t an overdose of pining and sadness like there was with Jim and Pam. Plus I just love them together. A lot. They make me happy. So for me, them getting together sooner rather than later was a big plus. Especially since them finally cementing their relationship hasn’t ruined the dynamic of the show at all… it’s made it even better.
Basically, I could go on all day about how much I love this show, because there are a million little moments that make it great. It definitely hasn’t hit that tired point that I got to with HIMYM (which I haven’t watched all year and don’t miss), and I don’t think it will. Nope. Parks & Rec continues to be true to its characters, intrigue me with new story lines and consistently crack my shit. If you haven’t seen it, 1) I’m sorry for spoiling some stuff, and 2) You should catch up on Netflix and Hulu over the holidays and tune in to the latest new episode Thursday, January 17th 8:30/7:30c. I’ll meet you on the couch!