A L’il (Sebastian) Ode to PARKS AND RECREATION

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As you’re probably aware, Parks and Recreation bows out tonight on NBC. Given that we’re such huge fans here at TYLL, we couldn’t let the occasion pass without reflecting upon some of our favorite moments of the show. Just like Ann Perkins, it is a beautiful tropical fish we will be hard-pressed to say goodbye to, but in true Leslie Knope fashion, we’re choosing to look at the bright side, and celebrate everything Pawnee, Indiana gave to us.

When Parks & Rec first premiered, I have to admit that my initial impression was that it was a poor man’s The Office, and that Leslie was basically a female Michael Scott. I thought it was destined for early cancelation, which pained me, because the cast was so excellent, and there was definitely a buzz in the air that hinted at its potential. However, the show righted its course in record time, and is one of the most impressive instances of fist-season retooling that I’ve ever seen on network television. Very quickly, the show’s heart became evident, in the form of one city bureaucrat named Leslie Knope, who saw a park in a pit, and never let her naysayers bring her down.

That is perhaps the defining feature of the series that will stick with me, and will make me thankful it was allowed to flourish as long as it has on our screens. So often, sitcoms are based on bringing someone else down for laughs. Parks, on the other hand, chose to focus on the power of positivity, and the celebration of the small moments that bring us together. There was no cause too small for Leslie to take interest in, no task too beneath her pay grade, no person unworthy of help. (After all, she managed to save rival Eagleton, didn’t she?)

Through her unflinching enthusiasm, all of her friends and colleagues saw the best in themselves and their town, too. Stranger Ann became Leslie’s best friend through her sheer force of will. Mooch Andy became a loveable goofball who was more Golden Retriever than greedy opportunist. Cynic April came to find friendship and family in the co-workers she claimed to despise. Libertarian Ron, the least likely municipal office dweller ever, became Leslie’s greatest champion, though he’d never believe it. Gerry might have always remained the office punchline, but in the end, they at least called him by his real name. Tom went from hyperactive assistant to accomplished entrepreneur. Donna — well, Donna was always fabulous, but she reached heights even she couldn’t imagine, thanks to Leslie’s inspiration. And as we know, former-disgraced-teen-mayor Ben not only worked his way to aspiring state senator, but he also became her husband and father of her children.

I could go on and on about the iconic moments from the series, but we’d be here all day, and time is money, money is power, power is pizza, and pizza is knowledge. Yet, I had to offer some small token of my appreciation here on the interwebs as we near Parks’ swan song, to give thanks for getting to spend the last seven years with this wonderful little world. I only wish more shows could follow suit, because the world needs more dreamers like Leslie, who refuse to give into the cheap laugh, when the heart is so much more satisfying.  This last season in particular has been a study in what makes this show so good, firing on all cylinders every week in an effort to wrap the characters’ stories up, in a way that is both natural and heartwarming, and I couldn’t be prouder of the heights they’ve all reached.

Here’s hoping that wherever the gang for Parks & Rec lands, there’s a JJ’s Diner waiting for them, with all the waffles and bacon in the land.

And if there isn’t, you can bet your bottom dollar that Leslie Knope will build one for you.


What are some of your favorite moments from Parks & Recreation? Check back later tonight for more thoughts after the finale! (It hurts just to type that.) 

Nels
Nels knew how to operate a TV remote control before she knew how to talk. As a result, she has spent an inordinate amount of time pretending she actually lives on a soundstage. When she isn’t watching whichever show is currently capturing her heart, she is writing about how said show is currently capturing her heart. She loves pie.

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