It’s astounding to me that “Parks and Recreation” is already a few episodes into it’s sixth season. By this point in time most comedies have hit a creative slump of rather epic proportions, just like “The Office” did. While things in the great and overweight city of Pawnee, Indiana are no longer as shiny as they once were, “Parks and Recreation” is still one of the best comedies on television, and it deserves a lot more love than it usually gets.
Pawnee, Indiana is home to the most dedicated Parks and Recreation department ever. Back in season one and two the Parks department, led by Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler), her employees, and her best friend Ann (Rashida Jones), was only focused on filling in one huge ass hole and developing a park. Six years later Leslie is now a City Counsellor and married, Ann is moving away, and the Parks department is still as ineffective as ever.
“I’ve gotten to know the city councilmen pretty well because of my campaign. If you hear them talking about “that blonde pain in the ass”, that’s me.”
Amy Poehler deserves all of her praise for her performance as Leslie Knope. What originally started as a relatively dumb Micheal Scott-esque character has grown into a lovely, and very flawed character who you can’t help but root for. All of Leslie’s most annoying traits, such as the over eagerness, the intense leader complex, and her inability to understand failure, have all been accentuated in just the right way by Poehler. Leslie can still be annoying, but she’s never aggravating or impossible to watch.
“Parks and Recreation” has won many awards for Best Comedy Series, but that’s not just because of Amy Poehler’s performance. The rest of the Parks department, and its many guest stars, bring fun to the show in ways that the rest of the secondary characters on “The Office” couldn’t. Everyone is weird and wacky, from Donna (Retta) as the sasstastic office manager to Jerry/Gary/Larry (Jim O’Heir) the overweight embarrassment with a ridiculously good life. Ron Swanson (Nick Offerman) has become a rightful legend, adorning posters, T-shirts, and bumper stickers. Everyone brings their own charm to the series and have completely made their characters their own.
“There’s only one thing I hate more than lying: skim milk, which is water that’s lying about being milk.”
All of the characters have evolved greatly since that first unfortunate season. Ron is going to be a father, and Andy (Chris Pratt) gets an actual job and kinda sorta grows up. Every now and then the characters, usually April, slip back into their old manners, which is very off-putting and takes me out of the world that the writers have carefully fostered and developed.
The main focus of this season so far has been Leslie facing down her opponents in City Hall. The town of Pawnee is the most backwards place in the universe, to the point of incredible disbelief. The last two seasons, which involved Leslie’s campaign for City Councillor, and then her first year as City Councillor, were all about how the town was against her. We’re only a few episodes into season six and already the City Hall shenanigans are feeling old and worn out. It’s a shame that the “Parks and Recreation” writers are still going back to his subject because there is so much other great stuff in the show.
“The hug machine is here! Smiling on all cylinders!”
Even with these flaws “Parks and Recreation” is one of the best shows on television, which is why it especially stings to see that so few people are watching it. Many of the folks that I talk to about “Parks and Recreation” only saw the first few episodes, way back when it was a pretty bad show. It’s come such a long way, and it’s a shame that its viewership hasn’t grown to match the maturity of the show. The other major complaint that I hear about “Parks and Recreation” is that there isn’t enough drama, that everyone almost always gets exactly what they want. I have absolutely no problem with this. The comedy field these days is filled with cynical and very meta shows like “Community” and “Louie,” and “Parks and Recreation” is the equalizer in this equation, a warm fuzzy show that makes you giggle non-stop and gets really weird some times.
Given that “Parks and Recreation” is just starting its sixth year I can understand that the writers are scrambling for plot. Thankfully they’ve already introduced one major plot this season, a merger between the city of Pawnee and their bitter rival Eagleton, that should compensate for the overused City Hall plot line. If the writers can plumb that plot for all its worth then this season of “Parks and Recreation” could be the best one yet.