I absolutely love Parks and Recreation. For anyone who knows me, the first conversation I had with my husband when we met was about Parks and Rec. I had just started watching it recently, and had actually watched some with the friend who introduced us, so it came up.
Mostly what came up was the awesomeness that is Ron Swanson. Interestingly enough, though he became one of the most popular characters from the show, he was only meant to be in the first season. One of his best contributions? The Swanson Pyramid of Greatness:
But really, the show isn’t carried by just one or two characters, and that’s what makes it amazing. Amy Poehler as Leslie Knope is fantastic as a feminist, driven civil servant who cares maybe a bit too much about everything. Honestly, if the show had just focused on her, I’m not sure how well it would have done. It really is the ensemble cast that makes the show what it is.
One thing that constantly strikes me as amazing, and what stuck with me when I just watched the series through again, was how the romances are handled.
Spoilers, I guess…
Leslie and Ben are in an incredibly healthy, adult relationship. They break up for a time so that Leslie can run for office, but Ben is supportive the entire time and knows and loves that she needs to focus on her own career. But then they get together, stay together, and function incredibly well together. They are actually a model relationship.
Andy and April are a surprisingly functional relationship, even though they are sometimes immature and impulsive. They start off rocky because Andy used to date Ann, but once they are together, they stay together and are a very strong model relationship. The writers could have taken this in an entirely different way, though. Andy and April marry after dating for about a month, and the writers could have easily broken them up again and again or just once or gotten them close to breaking up every season, but they never did. Instead, they showed an impulsive, fun couple as wholly together and supportive, constantly. I love them. (Not to mention that April is my doppelganger and spirit animal.)
Ann and Chris have an interesting relationship, since they date, break up, become friends, decide to have children together, and then fall in love after Ann is pregnant. It works though, and ends up being an uncomplicated, modern relationship where they support and love each other without worrying about traditions or labeling what they are, beyond “family.” I love it.
Ron Swanson is actually one who goes through crazy, dysfunctional relationships. He has two ex wives named Tammy (by the way, his mother’s name is Tammy…what’s your point?), but even he commits wholly once he meets the right person. And again, the writers give us another strong relationship. Oh yeah, and his wife is played by Xena, because he’s awesome and needs an equally awesome wife.
The most awesome relationship, though, is also the funniest. Jerry Gergich has the most functional, normal family of all. Which none of the other characters can wrap their heads around. Especially not Ben, who consistently comes up with theories of how Jerry ended up with Gayle in the first place.
Besides the romantic relationships, the friendships are amazing. Ann and Leslie become best friends, and even though Leslie sometimes steamrolls Ann, Ann is always there to tell it to Leslie straight.
Also, dancing in celebration of everything.
Even April is an amazing friend to everyone in the office, no matter how frequently she declares she hates everyone. She often goes out of her way to help people, but then shies away when they acknowledge her. It’s definitely part of her charm.
It’s not just how funny the show is (it does have fantastic writing and acting). It’s also how much the show makes you care about the characters. I’m still sad it’s over, and it’s all on Netflix for me to watch whenever I want. Which I have recently…twice.
But, if anything else, watch the episode The Fight in season 3 because it is amazing.