We all have that one show we turn to when we’re having a bad day, like “comfort food” pop culture. When I’m feeling grumpy, my comfort food is Parks & Recreation. The show is about a Parks Department in Pawnee, Indiana, and starts with Leslie Knope, the Deputy Director of the Pawnee Parks & Rec Department, trying to turn a vacant lot into a public park. From there, the show goes many places, but the general idea is Leslie serving for the greater good and coming up against self-serving opponents along the way.
I’ll admit, when I first started watching the show I didn’t have very high expectations for it. I thought it was funny, and I already loved Amy Poehler, but it seemed pretty goofy. After the first season, though, the writers take a big turn with Amy’s character. Instead of being clueless, she becomes much more driven and honest. From there out, the show has a heart that turned it into one of my favorite shows instead of a goofy comedy I’d watch when I didn’t want to think too hard.
One of my favorite things about Parks & Rec is its amazing ensemble of characters, each of which starts out as a goofy two-dimensional caricature and goes through an arc that makes them real. I end up loving all of them, and have a hard time choosing a favorite.
But that doesn’t mean I won’t try. Chris Pratt, who plays Andy Dwyer, is amazing on this show and has been able to build a career off of his success on it. Andy was never even supposed to be a permanent character on the show, but the showrunners decided to keep Chris on. Each character on the show (except Leslie Knope), which uses a mockumentary shooting style, looks at the camera for a different type of reaction. Andy looks at the camera every time something happens that he considers to be the greatest thing ever, and it’s adorable and hilarious.
The show was originally supposed to be a spin-off of The Office, which is where the mockumentary style of the show comes from. But it’s evolved in its own right, and I love the feel good vibes I get from it every time I sit down to watch. The Pawnee Parks Department may or may not win against the bad guy of whatever particular episode, but they always learn it’s better to win or lose together, no matter the outcome. And that’s what I love about this show.
Parks and Rec is available on Netflix, and is in its seventh and final season now on NBC.