In the past few weeks I’ve made it through the entire run of Parks and Recreation, with the exception of the most recent episode. My overall opinion: wonderful! Really, really good. Sometimes great but mostly really good.
It’s sort of tough to talk about an entire series at a run, and I’ve recently discovered that I’m a freak who, if she cares at all about the TV show in question, will want to watch an episode at least a couple times if she wants to say more than two things about it. (Thanks, Community! You did this to me.) So I’ve only seen each episode once and unfortunately some of my recollections of Parks are a little fuzzy as I more or less chugged the whole series as one might a seemingly endless series of PBR tallboys on the most epic night out ever. But I’ll try to think a coupla thoughts about the show.
Since I gave a shout-out to Community already, I’ll mention that here on the internets, I’ve noticed that some Parks fans and some Community fans think the two shows are foresworn enemies pitted against each other in the battle royale of network TV. This is stupid for a lot of reasons, not least of which is the fact that the real enemies are Whitney and Chelsea. But the two shows needn’t be enemies. Each does different things quite well, and you’re not always even going to be attracted to what a show does do well; that shouldn’t be a strike against it. I’m not even sure why it is that these two shows are so often put against one another, but knowing that, I couldn’t help but frame a lot of my reaction in relation to Community. For instance —
-There’s not a character on Parks I dislike, but I’m not as heavily invested in them as I am the characters on Community. I think almost all the leads on Community are more fleshed out than almost anyone on Parks, and the journeys they go on have more stakes (like Jeff’s comparatively dark season 3), so I personally find the character-based stuff on Community that much more absorbing.
-That said, if you don’t care one whit about character, Community is a veritable sardine can full to brimming with jokes, allusions, parodies, and so many other things to enjoy. I think Parks is similar in that respect, that you can enjoy it on a more character-based or a more humor-based level (or both), I just don’t find it quite as rich in those regards.
-I don’t think Parks is near as ambitious as Community, so it doesn’t stumble or fall as much, but it also doesn’t reach the dizzying highs. But that means it’s more consistent, and you can kind of just hunker down and enjoy a solid 22 minutes. Other great things about Parks?
-Pawnee is such a fun little world to visit. It reminds me of a live-action Simpsons, where most of the residents are too dumb to know what’s good for them and very, very vocal in that ignorance, but you’re still rooting for them anyway.
-And of course Parks has Ron Fucking Swanson.
-Leslie and Ann’s friendship is terribly sweet, keeps things grounded, and is one of my favorite things about the show.
To hell with it, let’s just watch some of my favorite clips on YouTube.