The 3 Things I Will Miss Most About Parks and Recreation

by - Monday, March 02, 2015

Tonight, the Boy and I watched the last season of Parks and Recreation, shedding our tears (ok, my tears) and debating whether it was really necessary to have Andy and April leave Pawnee (no). I feel genuinely sad it is over, not only because it has been my favorite show for like 5 years, but also because I feel like it leaves some real gaps in television in general, a gap I am worried will be filled by another misanthropic doctor or detective. So these are some of the things I will miss most about this show:

1. Casual, heartfelt, and intelligent feminism- If you are making a barbeque pun on The Feminine Mystique, I will be forced to love you. This show presented an ambitious feminist like it was obvious that she should be a feminist, and then surrounded her with a cast of male and female characters who also held up feminist ideals (April, Ron, Andy, and Ben all get some serious feminist moments). It managed to look at the ways women do still face inequality without getting overly preachy or pedantic.

2. Female Friendships- I really worried about the show when Ann left (and have never liked Ben as much as people thought I should) because the arc of the show, to me, was always about Leslie and Ann's friendship. In a way where it didn't defend itself or pat itself on the back either, but just presented a lovely arc no different than the many many bromances that have developed on sitcoms. Except it was them, so way more awesome. I loved the way that friendship grew and how much they loved each other in the way women actually do love each other, which is complicated and unconditional and can cover all levels of things (including Jennifer Aniston's love life). Let's all keep celebrating lady friends with Galentine's Day, shall we? If Galentine's Day outlives the show's cultural ubiquity, they will have accomplished one really great thing.

3. Actual Optimism and Love- This key difference between Parks and Rec and most anything else is that it refused to play its characters' dreams as stupid for laughs. Even Andy Dwyer, a puppy in human form, gets the chance to do many things for others and to see his dreams realized. Compared to the Office or How I Met Your Mother, you can see the characters are never treated with disdain from the writers. In the same way, the characters get to just love each other. Ross and Rachel couldn't exist in Pawnee, because once you have decided you love someone, you keep doing that, making April and Andy and Ben and Leslie two of the best and most romantic couples of all time. Love isn't a thing that turns on and off when narratively appropriate, it is a thing that the characters do every episode. Even if Leslie's dreams seem silly and far fetched in the beginning, its that ability to shoot high that makes her spectacular in her job and as a friend. In general, it was just nice to watch a show about what is good about people, that didn't resort to cheap cynicism. I will miss that the most, and it makes the show the kind of thing I won't mind my kids watching.

Bonus- Small Town Life- My biggest complaint with the finale is that Pawnee deserved its own future montage. This show took on small town life (though the size of Pawnee seemed to oscillate quite a bit) as interesting, rich, and meaningful. It treated the local as enough, and anyone who has grown up in a town can see the beauty in that. Also, the large (and extremely loyal) cast of townspeople really made the whole show. How will I live without Greg Pikitis and Shawna Mallway-Tweed?

So yes, I am clearly in mourning here. What good stuff

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