After seven series, the hour long finale of Parks and Recreation will air tonight in the states. This is I’m sure, not going to be the only blog post written about it, but I can’t help myself. It’s just such a great show, even when it’s not.
I have tried, and largely failed, to convince everyone I know that they should watch it. That they should persevere through, (and perhaps even skip) the awkward first season because series three and four of Parks and Recreation is some of the best TV comedy ever made. Even if other shows are funnier, more incisive, or well observed – Parks is my favourite and struck a chord with me in a way pop culture rarely does now that I am an adult.
Now that it is coming to an end, it seems fitting to enthuse about it one last time.
So here is why Parks and Recreation is so great, and why you should watch it. Right Now – and then we can all go get pancakes and talk about how it makes us feel.
Parks and Recreation is great because of Leslie Knope. Her character is at once aspirational and realistic. I imagine a large proportion of women who watch Parks and Recreation relate to Leslie’s character, I certainly do. In a world where it feels like every bit of pop culture is entirely focused on men, and where female characters are ropey at best, it’s rare to see someone on screen and think, yup, that’s me. I do those things! I am annoying but thoughtful, and opinionated and ambitious and I interfere in my friends lives, I was an overachieving kid, I even sort of invented the Galentines day breakfast back in 2007 (though it didn’t involve any cushions with pictures of Stalin on, sadly). Leslie is both brilliant and flawed, and her path to success is strewn with failures. For Leslie types everywhere watching parks is a glorious relief; it’s someone saying to you – it’s ok, you’re ok, it’s going to be ok.
The ensemble cast is fantastic and each character rises above the realm of shallow caricature. Chris Pratt is brilliant as Andy Dwyer;his performance as the loveable buffoon is note perfect. Nick Offerman’s Ron Swanson again, spot on and a welcome note of dry humour. Despite being ostensibly the ‘straight’ characters Ben and Anne are both well rounded, full people. Emo intern April Ludgate at first seems as though she might be a one trick, tiny horse – but over the course of the show she does develop and grow. The fact that the characters (including others I haven’t mentioned) are so well drawn means that you genuinely care about what happens to them.
Honestly, sometimes I forget that Pawnee isn’t a real place, and it makes me a little bit sad.
Parks and Rec is great because it’s so feminist. There are a number of blog posts about how wonderfully feminist Parks is, rather than repeat them, I will just direct you there. Without wishing to give anything away, one of the best aspects of Parks and Recreation season seven is that if anything, the feminism becomes more explicitly front and centre.
Parks and Recreation is great because it’s positive, and its feel good attitude is infectious. The world we live in can be a rubbish place. Inequality is escalating, climate change is happening, poverty and instability are real and impact upon our daily lives, and the lives of those we care about.The world of Parks and Recreation is both a better version of, and an escape from that reality. It offers a vision of small town America which is at times, brutally honest, but nonetheless optimistic. It’s a world where people are basically good, and those who work hard and are persistent get things done. Pawnee is a place where people band together to make change happen. As a campaigner, watching parks and recreation is a break from unrelenting horror of austerity, and a reminder that if we get together and work hard, we too can change the world.
So goodbye parks and recreation, it’s been great. Even though season one was weak, and the show probably peaked four series in, you have nonethless managed to make me cry on multiple occasions.Thank-you for giving this sentimental opinionated do-gooder a super awesome place to hide from the world, and the motivation to dive back in.