Written by Maria Ramos
Parks and Recreation: One of the Best Sitcoms of All-Time
In early 2009, a television show premiered that would go on to change the world forever… well, maybe not, but Parks and Recreation has made a strong showing in the fickle realm of primetime television. This is no doubt due to the show’s lovable characters and hilarious plotlines.
During its first season, Parks and Recreation was still appeared to be getting comfortable with its place in the primetime line up. There were, of course, plenty of comparisons to The Office, considering its handling of a fictional workplace environment. The single camera, talking head, “mockumentary” style of the show made some dismiss Parks and Rec as a knock-off. The main story arc consisted of Leslie attempting to get a dangerous pit converted into a park – it was a lukewarm first attempt.
The writers and producers took note of the criticism, though, and made changes to characters and storylines. Parks and Recreation came back for its second season, this time receiving more positive reviews and higher ratings. From there, the show has only gotten stronger, steadily gaining fans with each season. Now, in its seventh and final season, Parks and Rec has acquired numerous award nominations and wins.
Without a doubt, the eccentric characters are what made Parks and Recreation a success. Amy Poehler skillfully plays Leslie Knope as a highly positive, thoughtful, and hardworking individual – someone many of us might strive to be. Her overly zealous attitude annoys many of her peers, but Leslie’s close friends and family find ways to appreciate her for it (perhaps thanks to her incredible birthday gifts).
Her polar opposition comes in the form of Nick Offerman’s Ron Swanson, Leslie’s boss within the Parks and Rec Department. Ron is a manly and emotionally distant individual who takes pleasure in hunting, woodwork, and meat. Although he claims not to care about Leslie and the gang, he secretly loves them. Both Poehler and Offerman were well known before they were cast on Parks and Recreation, but thanks to the overwhelming success of the series they have each released books, and seen their fame triple.
Chris Pratt, a relative unknown when the show began, has since risen to meteoric stardom. His character Andy Dwyer, a dimwitted slacker, is an irreplaceable fixture in the series. It is his original fall into a previously ignored giant pit that results in Leslie Knope’s involvement in the Pawnee Parks and Rec Department. Andy is a lovable and caring character, always finding the positive in any situation, despite his apparent thick headed-ness. He also captures the heart of the show’s dry and sarcastic intern, April Ludgate (Aubrey Plaza). Although April started out as a disinterested college student working for school credit, she becomes more involved in the Parks and Recreation department under Leslie and Ron’s influence, eventually becoming the Deputy Director of Animal Control. The two make a surprisingly adorable couple in lieu of their differences.
We can’t forget Tom Haverford (Aziz Ansari) and Donna Meagle (Retta) when discussing hilarious characters. The duo has made “Treat Yo Self” Day a national phenomenon, resulting in all kinds of merchandise. Ben Wyatt, played by Adam Scott, and Chris Traeger, played by Rob Lowe, take a little while to warm up to us since they appear as auditors when things get rough in Pawnee, but eventually they capture our hearts (and Leslie and Ann’s too)!
Outside the series, Chris Pratt has been cast in major blockbusters like Guardians of the Galaxy and the upcoming Jurassic World, even joining the list of actors slated to become the next Indiana Jones. Comedians Aziz Ansari and Aubrey Plaza have also seen their celebrity status rise since working on Parks and Rec. Aubrey Plaza is becoming an indie star thanks to movies like Life After Beth, and tickets to Ansari’s stand up tours continue to sell like hotcakes.
Although it had a rocky start, Parks and Recreation became a charming show about a family atmosphere in a work department. Through its ups and downs, we were able to see this family grow. The family even expanded before our eyes with triplets!
To look back at what made this show a stunning addition to TV history, you can stream recent episodes online at NBC.com, or catch up with Pawnee’s cast of crazy characters on DTV or Netflix with full seasons. For the “farewell” season, Parks and Recreation will take us a few years into the future. We get to see where the lives of our favorite government officials ended up – Leslie now works as Midwest Regional Parks Director, and Ron has left the department to form his own construction company. A new plotline concerning a piece of land Leslie needs for a National Park is the dominating story arc. While it will certainly be sad to see Parks and Recreation end, this season promises that audiences will still get the last laugh.
Parks and Recreations airs Tuesday nights on NBC.