A Love Letter to Parks and Recreation

PARKS AND RECREATION -- "Viva Gunderson!" Episode 711 -- Pictured: (l-r) Retta as Donna Meagle, Adam Scott as Ben Wyatt, Amy Poehler as Leslie Knope, Aubrey Plaza as April Ludgate, Nick Offerman as Ron Swanson -- (Photo by: Chris Haston/NBC)
(Photo by: Chris Haston/NBC)

Parks and Recreation ends its 7th and final season on NBC tonight.  We have some thoughts as it completes its run.


Parks and Recreation started while I was still finishing up undergrad in Indiana.  I tuned in mostly because Amy Poehler was involved; I still dislike the cringe-style humor of the Office and wasn’t sure I really wanted to see a spin-off with the same energy, just a different type of office.  That first season was rough.  It had its moments, but it didn’t really start becoming the show I love until the second season kicked off.

I almost didn’t give season two a second chance, but I’m glad I did – the episode that aired (with Leslie accidentally gay marrying two penguins) fixed all the issues I had with the first run of episodes. I kept tuning in, and the show quickly became one of my favorites – it probably helped that Pawnee bears an uncanny resemblance to the college town I was in at the time.  I followed it through cast changes, schedule and timeslot switches (seriously, NBC can’t even let the final season of this show have the same timeslot through all of this season), and plotlines, and I’m really sad to see it go.

It’s a crime that this show hasn’t received ANY Emmy awards – Amy Poehler has done amazingly good work as the constantly-driven Leslie Knope, the show’s writing has gone for broke so many seasons in a row (out of necessity, at times) and never written itself into a corner, and Adam Scott has created what I’d argue is the best and most accurate nerd on TV in Ben Wyatt1 (sorry, Big Bang guys.  Actually, not sorry.).  He should have hosted SNL by now at the least.  This show built such a rich world in the town it created – if I had to pick a fictional sitcom city to live in, I’d pick Pawnee without a second thought.

Over the seasons, the show’s willingness to have characters who actually seem to like each other rather than hang out with one another as a premise for jokes has only strengthened my love for the show.  Cynicism is easy; finding comedy in people who genuinely want the best for one another is hard.  Sure, it’s slightly unrealistic that everyone seems to be getting their dreams fulfilled in this last season, but I can’t think of a better ending for the show.

  1. I’m pretty sure NBC owes me life rights of some sort for Ben Wyatt.  Minnesotan?  Check.  Complete nerd who tries to hold together a semblance of normalcy but can’t help his geeking out from slipping thorough? Check.  Former past as a teen mayor?  Okay, not a check here, but the town I grew up in DID have a teen mayor right out of high school who graduated a few years before I did.  I can tell when a friend gets to the end of season 2 of the show by the fact that I get a text message consisting mostly of exclamation points.  

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About Ben Smith 228 Articles
Ben has been writing about TV, music, and pop culture in some form or another since 2009, including stints at Mental Floss and Temporary Obsession. When not solving puzzles of some sort or consuming pop culture at a frightening pace, he can be found collecting shiny pieces of the internet at GoodAtInter.net. E-mail: ben@whatelseison.tv