Pop Culture

A Love Letter to “Parks and Recreation”

In the Spring of 2009, Parks and Recreation debuted on NBC. Maybe you heard about it because you liked Amy Poehler from SNL. Maybe you heard that it was kind of like The Office, but without Steve Carrell. Maybe you watched an episode or two but didn’t bother to add it to your TiVo Season Passes. If you haven’t already spring for a HuluPlus subscription just to watch all the episodes in the past month, this love letter should explain why I did and you should.

(Due to technical difficulties of Netflix being down when I usually watch each episode, this week’s Bones recap is postponed.)

Dear Parks and Recreation,

First, I have to admit that I was one of the early naysayers. I was really excited about the show when I first heard about it. I loved Amy Poehler on SNL, and really liked Rashida Jones on The Office and a British show called NY-LON. I watched the first couple of episodes, but it just didn’t grab me. Plus, our NBC channel wasn’t HD and I think there were already two other things scheduled on our TiVo at that time. Sadly, you fell by the wayside.

I occasionally saw mention of you. People said you were getting better. I thought about giving you another chance, but just didn’t get around to it. But within the past year, you exploded. I saw the phrase “Best Show You’re Not Watching” a lot. Adam Scott (amazing on Party Down) and Rob Lowe joined? Wait… Megan Mullally guest stars? And Parker Posey? I LOVE them! What really sealed the deal, though, were the ladies I follow on Tumblr. Tumblr frickin’ LOVES you, P&R… I just want you to know that. Almost as much as it loves Doctor Who, Supernatural and Sexy Medieval Wolf Dragon Blood and Guts Hour (otherwise known as Game of Thrones… I haven’t seen it, so I’m just assuming that’s what the show is about). So… like that jerk who doesn’t see how beautiful his best friend is until he walks away from her, I came crawling back to you, Parks and Recreation. And it has been beautiful. Except for that part where you made me shell out for a HuluPlus subscription because Netflix didn’t have season three. But that’s not your fault, baby… it’s mine. I promise I won’t forsake you again, and here’s why (in no particular order):

I love Mark Brendanawicz. I love that he is the Only Sane Man amongst the chaos of the Parks Department. I love that he’s a little bit of a man-slut. I love that he admires Leslie’s passion for her work. I love that he gives Ann a Christmas present of not attending a Pacers game with him. I love that he left when it was time, rather than stay on and pine over Ann.

I love Jerry. I love that Jerry still comes to work, day in and day out, just waiting for retirement, despite the fact that he is the office punching bag. I love that we see that he still has insecurity, though, because of the taunting. I love that he goes home to his wife and kids, who must be the most supporting family in the world to make the man who has to deal with what Jerry deals with.

I love Donna. I love that she is to P&R what Barney is to How I Met Your Mother. I love how we have no idea how she affords a Benz and three shares of the Snakehole Lounge on a single person’s government salary. Is she independently wealthy? A trust-fund child? Secretly a hit woman? I doubt we’ll ever know and I love it.

I love all the recurring characters. I love Jean-Ralphio and how Ron immediately knew he wanted “the opposite of that.” I love Tammy 2 and how much chaos she brings into Ron’s life. I love Shauna Malwae-Tweep, Joan Callamezzo, and Perd Hapley, the media king and queens of Pawnee. I love the Christian lady who opposes every decision and I love the dad who wants Twilight in the time capsule because of his daughter. I love that the recurring characters ride that fine line between ordinary and caricature – if you’ve ever lived in a small community, you know them. You’ve rolled your eyes at them.

I love that the writers allow the stories to tie themselves up in a reasonable amount of time. A pit takes twelve episodes to fill in and it’s not even at it’s end-goal of being a park yet. The Harvest Festival wraps up in six and it’s swiftly on to the next project. Individual plot threads don’t overstay their welcome, yet don’t feel wrapped up too quickly, either.

I love that (other than Jerry) the humor isn’t mean-spirited. That’s not to say that everything is roses and candy all the time, but these characters all have a deep appreciation for each other and almost every episode leaves you with a good feeling, which seems rare in a sitcom right now.

I love that the writers trust their hilarious cast and allow them to improv. It makes for genius moments like this:

I love Ron Swanson. I love that he opposes the very things that keep him employed. I love that he’s a crotchety bastard, but one that cares about his employees, even though he’ll deny it to your face. I love that he knew when he needed to intervene for April and Andy. I love that he fights for Leslie to keep her job because he knows that she is the yang to his yin. I love that he gives Tom honest advice when Tom is thinking about leaving. I love that he has a poster of bacon and eggs in his office.

I love April and Andy. I love how far each character has grown through their friendship and their relationship. I love that their relationship simultaneously makes absolutely no sense and makes all the sense in the world. I love that they’re finding their own way in the world and don’t care if anyone thinks it’s weird. I love that their fights, like all things on this show, take exactly the right amount of time to run their course. I love that I don’t know what to expect next from them.

I love Ben Wyatt and Chris Traeger. I love that they mirror Ron and Leslie. I love that Chris’ return didn’t feel shoehorned in. I love that Ben is the cynical, jaded, opposition to Leslie…the young mayor with the chip on his shoulder who got his optimism crushed down so early. I love that Leslie is bringing the optimism back to his life.

I love Ann Perkins. I love that we see her at her best and at her worst. I love her relationship with Leslie and love feeling that I finally have a pop culture female friendship that I can relate to (that and Bridesmaids have made my year). I love that their friendship is the centerpiece of the show. I love that it’s not about one being jealous of the other or one secretly hating the other. I love that it’s a friendship built from genuine mutual admiration and affection and I love these two so much.

I love the P&R fans. I love that there are paper dolls of the cast members. I love that there are Cats That Look Like Ron Swanson and Dogs That Look Like Tom Haverford. I love that there are Texts from Pawnee. I love that the creators are fans themselves and you can see the whole Pawnee Summer Catalog online.

And, of course, I love Leslie Knope. I love that she admires all female politicians, even the ones she doesn’t agree with. I love that she roleplays how Eleanor Roosevelt would kiss. I love that she loves every single person she works with, even Jerry. I love what an amazing, strong, female role model she is and truly hope kids grow up wanting to be just like her. I love that I fall more in love with her and with this show every episode and I love that I hate that I’ll have to wait until September for more episodes.

Parks and Recreation via
Image Coutesy

(Parks and Recreation is available in the US on Netflix Instant (season 1 and 2) and HuluPlus (all three seasons). Warning: I burned through it all in a month.)




By Crystal Coleman

Florida girl living on the west coast. During the day, I consult in social media and community management. I have a really cute puppy (Elphaba) and a British husband (I keep him for his accent) as well as an unhealthy relationship with parentheses.

6 replies on “A Love Letter to “Parks and Recreation””

I love this show with all my heart. We watched the Snake Juice episode 3 times this weekend and laughed our asses off.

Anyone want to love Rashida Jones even more? There was a recent blind item reveal at one of those gossip sites, and apparently she donates her paycheck from one of her shows every single month to pay the rent for a family in need. She has helped a bunch of people get back on their feet this way, totally on the down low, not for attention, just to help. I will love her forever.

Halfway through season 2, I realized I am Leslie Knope. My boyfriend points this out three times per episode. It makes me feel good, because Leslie has all my good qualities and only a few of my bad.

And now we’re watching Parks and Rec until 3 am.

Another thing I love about P&R:

-From, the household of two libertarians (except for the fact we both want to work for the government MORE THAN ANYTHING)

I adore this show, and I also burned through the Netflix stash of it way too quickly. Now I’m pining. I wasn’t even able to put a finger on one of the things I like most about it until a friend of mine articulated it: the friendship between Ann and Leslie is probably one of the most positive depictions of a friendship between two women on television.

Everything about Parks and Rec is awesome.

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