Parks and Recreation
Created by Greg Daniels, Michael Schur
Starring Amy Poehler, Nick Offerman, Aziz Ansari, Aubrey Plaza, Chris Pratt, and Adam Scott
This past Tuesday NBC aired the last two episodes of its acclaimed comedy, Parks and Recreation. For seven seasons, the mockumentary followed the service of the Parks and Recreation department of Pawnee, Indiana, a fictional town.
After a short and forgettable first season, the show slowly found its pace and became a critical and popular success. With the introduction of new actors to the cast, each season after the first had clear goals and the department got progressively more ambitious. We have seen the team saving city parks and rivers, reviving festivals, and even running for city council. In between these milestones, the characters grew personally and developed relationships.
The show’s creators ended season 6 with a bold move by flashing forward to the year 2017. Introducing such a big plot twist might polarize audiences, but the risk proved to be a clever idea, as it refreshed the show’s plot and gave the writers the opportunity to play around with the future. The writers introduce not-so-distant technological developments like delivery drones and holographic phones. The move also steered away from Leslie’s pregnancy and early motherhood period, keeping the focus on the characters in the work environment.
We discover that by 2017 most characters have moved out of the department. Leslie is busy working for the Department of Interior, frequently travelling to Washington. Meanwhile Ron, who has always hated working for the government, has started his own private construction company, “Very Good”. Andy turned his Johnny Karate character into a children’s TV show, which he writes and stars with the other members of the department guest starring. Out of the original cast members April, who was an intern the first season, is the only one still working at the Parks office.
The first half of the last season focuses on Leslie’s attempt to prevent a giant company from purchasing a piece of land that would better serve as a national park. In order to fight this corporate monster, Leslie had to make peace with Ron and reunite the rest of the gang. The second half focuses more on the supporting characters. We see developments in Tom and Donna’s personal lives, as well as April’s desire to get out of government work and start a new career. All of these story lines get resolved, paving the way for a conclusive finale.
Beyond the plot, the season has been a reprise of all the things that have made Parks and Rec so popular. The show brought back its trademark quick-witted humor and delivered some fantastic one-liners, mainly from Chris Pratt’s character, Andy Dwyer. We have seen the return of characters such as Perd Hapley, Ethel Beavers, and Burt Macklin. The producers added to the show’s list of cameos, featuring the hilarious Bill Murray as Mayor Gunderson, as well as a short scene with former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.
While some might argue the final season is the show’s best season, it was also one of the shortest. With only thirteen episodes over the course of seven weeks, the writers packed a lot of emotion and special moments for the cast. Weddings, promotions, and goodbyes happened so frequently that the viewer had little time to digest them all.
It is hard for television shows to wrap up and please audiences at the same time. This is especially true of comedies, which struggle to resolve stories and at times tend to overextend by introducing crazy plot twists. This was not the case for Parks and Rec. The writers and cast made the final season a memorable and fun journey.