I’ve written before about my love for a TV show. I’ve written my ode to humans that do not exist. But I’m going to do it again (kinda). Because I said goodbye to Parks and Recreation and I’m just still sad that I had to.
I’ll be honest with you: Parks & Rec had better ingredients than The Office. In fact, it’s probably a better show. I don’t know that anyone was as competent as Steve Carrell was on The Office, because Carrell is just a nova. But Amy Poehler is pretty daggum close. John Krasinski and Rainn Wilson were pretty hilarious. But the characters/actors on Parks and Rec reads like a long list of flat-out stars. Dwight Schrute was an amazing TV character. Ron Swanson is probably at a different level. I want to tell you that Parks & Rec is better (because it is), but I still have so much nostalgia attached to The Office that I can’t quite bring myself to say it (even though I should say that thing).
Parks & Rec was brilliant. It really was just flat-out brilliant. The first six episodes are nothing like what the rest of the series will be, but the seeds of genius are there, even back then. But Parks & Rec just rolled out season after season of magic writing and nuanced, hilarious performances. And you know what was amazing about Parks & Rec? It was warm and positive without being sappy. The unrelenting positivity of Leslie Knope ultimately could overcome even the stodgy Ron Swanson, the (not really) sociopathic April Ludgate. There were lots of signs that Leslie lived in her own world, but… well… her world won out. And while, these days, we like our heroes to be anti-heroes, Leslie Knope bent the world to her way of just charitably powering through all the struggles. Do you know how rare that tone is these days?
Amy Poehler is amazing. We all know this. She’s a national treasure. She’s brilliant. What she did made that show work. Sure, she was surrounded by an incredible cast. But none of those planets fall into orbit without the weight of her performances. Her smile was effusively warm, but the intelligence never made you think this person was an idiot, an ignoramus smiling into the sunshine. I will miss seeing her on TV.
I’ll miss Parks and Rec.’s sunny voice in our culture. I’ll never understand why more people didn’t watch this show instead of stupid stuff like The Big Bang Theory (which is fun enough but… it’s in a totally different class). I’ll never understand why NBC didn’t back this show to the hilt because, you know, they have NOTHING going for them. Instead, Parks and Rec. was forced to have a delayed start and rush through a short season that ended before February did. Everything about that seems incredibly dumb and I’ll never NOT be disappointed by it.
But I’ll miss the show more than I’ll be baffled by its history. That tone is hard to find in comedy. Or drama. Or action. The world that Leslie Knope inhabits is probably better than our world. And our world was better for having Parks and Rec. in it.
I guess there’s no choice but to re-watch it constantly and tell my kids about better days on TV. I’m comfortable with this lot in life.
Goodbye Pawnee, Indiana. You’ll be missed.