Parks and Recreation is (One of) the Best Shows of Our Time

By OLIVIA SILBERNAGEL

Everyone has their own likes and dislikes in TV shows but Parks and Recreation (commonly called Parks and Rec) is a show that has something for nearly everyone.

Parks and Recreation is a comedy that originally aired on NBC and ran from 2009 to 2015. The show features a small fictional city called Pawnee, Indiana and the antics of Leslie Knope (played by Amy Poehler).

Parks and Rec has a style of comedy that’s easy to understand but remains funny. It builds jokes over time and calls back to previous gags so that the audience feels as though they are in on an inside joke. An example of this is the town’s fascination with a miniature horse named Li’l Sebastian and Ben Wyatt  (who plays the “confused outsider” role concerning the quirks of Pawnee) pretending to understand the hype. Throughout the seasons this is showcased by other characters thinking Ben is a huge fan of Li’l Sebastian which he remains nonplussed to why the town idolizes the horse. This is not a difficult to understand nor extremely nuanced joke but it builds over the seasons to create a joke that can be funny even when referenced subtlety.

Another reason the show’s humor strikes a different chord than other comedies, even those often touted as being similar, such as the US version of The Office, is that it never relies on “edgy” comedy. While jokes that are offensive or mean can be funny, if a show relies on the fact that the jokes are offensive/mean, and will therefore create a reaction, the humor can get stale over time. Parks and Rec never does this. Even when humor is based on a character and their quirks the joke is never simply mocking them, but instead finds humor in their actions.

The presentation of the show includes a format which, admittedly, has been utilized by other shows (see: The Office (US)) however, in Parks and Rec it is used much more sparingly. The show uses it’s mockumentary format (talking heads, shaky camera, looking into the camera etc.) much less than other comparable shows, especially looking directly at the camera. Ben Wyatt looks into the camera the most throughout the show, and it used to show his exasperation with the other characters and their antics, such as his confusion surrounding Li’l Sebastian.

The characters in the show aren’t just archetypes, but instead are nuanced people to which real development happens over the seasons. Comedies often rely on one character playing a specific role within the narrative which leaves little room for character growth; if a character has one gag, not much can change about that character before the gag becomes obsolete. The characters in Parks and Rec does not fall into this: April Ludgate starts the show angry apathetic and ends it passionate and Tom Haverford begins self centered and grows to care deeply about his friends.

Parks and Recreation is a show for everyone, even for viewers who aren’t usually interested in comedy. The jokes are accessible and the characters are interesting, compelling, and easy to relate to. Watching the show doesn’t feel like watching a comedy, it feels like watching real people in real, though exaggerated, situations.

 

Sources

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1266020/ accessed on May 18, 2018.

Parks and Recreation

The Office (US)

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