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September 21st, 2011


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10:35 pm - Parks and Recreation? More Like Snarks and Decoration!
Parks and Recreation was on my radar very early on. I had not heard good things about it, and it did not seem to be up my alley. Then, however, I did hear good things about it, and it seemed like most people I knew were watching it. Earlier this year, I visited sophia_helix and actoplasm, and they showed me four or five episodes, and even though I didn't know the characters at all, I thought they were very funny. I knew that I would one day watch this show. Then I made a plan to mainline comedies like Better Off Ted and Community, and Netflix Instant conveniently had the first two seasons, so it was clearly time for me to finally watch this show.

You guys, WHY DID I WAIT SO LONG TO WATCH THIS SHOW IT IS BRILLIANT AND AMAZING OMG.

The premise doesn't seem to have a lot of promise: an overly earnest Deputy Parks Director in the small town of Pawnee, Indiana, makes it her personal quest to have a dangerous pit filled in and turned into a park. Obviously, she will run into many roadblocks and be naively optimistic, but then she will use her spunk and gumption to prevail anyway. And, sure, that happens. Over and over again, really. But when you have a stellar cast and a staff of extremely clever writers, you can do much, much more.

Okay, look, I know it seemed like some sort of Office clone (and it was initially going to be a spin-off), and, yes, the first season (like the first season of The Office) is rough. But remember what happened in the second season of The Office? How suddenly everything just clicked and the show understood what it had and what it could do with it and how it could best tell funny stories with these characters? The same thing happens here: once the show stops focusing on being a municipal satire and starts being about characters, I started to love it very quickly.

And what a set of characters! Leslie Knope is indeed naively optimistic about government, but, unlike Michael Scott, she's both competent (hypercompetent, actually) at her job and likeable. Ron Swanson, on the other hand, hates government and revels in all its failures. He epitomizes masculinity and rocks a 'stache like no other. He and Leslie are basically work spouses, and they play off each other well, he not actually wanting her to succeed governmentally but still—though he may not admit it—caring about her success personally. Ann Perkins (Ann Perkins!) is a nurse who, because of the pit project, becomes Leslie's new best friend and a measure of sanity in the craziness of the Parks Department. It's rare to see female friendships on TV, and I loved how supportive they were of one another. It's adorable. And speaking of adorable, Andy Dwyer is a lovable doof who should not be judged by his characterization in the first season, as he becomes a much better character in the second season. April Ludgate is the apathetic intern who was one of my favorite characters from the beginning and only became more awesome as the series progressed. Tom Haverford wants his life to be a non-stop Nelly video. In the beginning, I just wanted The Tom and April Show, but all the other characters grew on me as well. Even Mark Brendanawicz, the straightest of straight men, a man so straight he can be a Halloween costume. And I would be remiss not to mention Donna, who loves the Mercedes she cannot possibly afford on her salary, and Jerry, the butt of every joke.

It is hard for me to explain why Parks and Recreation is so amazing, but let me begin by saying this: by some point in season two, basically all of my e-mail reactions to sophia_helix were in CAPSLOCK. I loved it that much. And it remained that good. You see, the thing about Parks and Recreation is that IT FILLS ME WITH JOY. Yes, it's a comedy, it should make me happy, right? No, I mean joy. It doesn't just make me laugh—a lot—it makes me happy. Michael Schur deliberately set out to make a sitcom full of positivity, and I think that is the true genius of this show. It is easy to make a funny show about terrible people being dicks to each other (not to diminish the genius of Arrested Development in any way), but to make a workplace comedy about likeable characters who generally get along and actually like what they do...that's a challenge. The show is so funny, and its jokes are not at the expense of its characters but because of its characters. Characters whose lives I am overly invested in. Sitcoms love will-they-or-won't-they-oh-god-when-will-they-already couples, and Parks and Rec is no exception. With one couple in particular, I was basically on the edge of my seat every episode because they were SO FUCKING ADORABLE OMG.

But the show has more genius left to spare, so it uses it on worldbuilding. Yes, worldbuilding. It creates more and more terrible historical anecdotes about Pawnee. It gives the various branches of city government ridiculous personalities. It populates Pawnee with a wealth of horrible, querulous people. It invents a whole media circus for a small town, complete with a scandal-seeking reporter, a scandalmongering daytime talk show host, and a literal-speaking TV newscaster. And despite how ridiculous everything gets, it always feels grounded enough for the emotions involved to be real.

Parks and Recreation may be the only sitcom that is influenced by The Wire.

Like Community, Parks and Rec is so very self-assured. It understands what it has and what it can do, and it is not afraid to adapt and change. Characters are free to move into new roles if it feels natural and will provide even more fodder for humor. Improvisation is encouraged, and some of the funniest jokes come out that way. From the second-season premiere on, there's nary a bad episode, the show is so solid. Really, I could go on and on about how amazing it is and I know I just went on and on about how amazing Community was a couple months ago, but I may have fallen even more deeply in love with Parks and Recreation. I feel like both shows fill pieces of me I didn't even know were missing.

The statement that this fan has is a question: will you tune in to Parks and Recreation tomorrow?
Current Mood: hothot
Current Music: VOTE! - Everyone Has a Dream

(44 memoirs | Describe me as "inscrutable")

Comments:


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[User Picture]
From:loopychew
Date:September 22nd, 2011 07:04 am (UTC)
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It's time for you to stare into a mirror and say to yourself, "Start. Posting."
[User Picture]
From:loopychew
Date:September 22nd, 2011 07:29 am (UTC)
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Also, your link to The Wire leads back to your Arrested Development post. I typed the URL into the thing up there, and I think you may have "link connectivity problems."

Also also, YES. I see where you're getting the Wire comparisons from, but I'd say this were the happy, upbeat version of it, in which The System Occasionally Works! which is basically the antithesis of The Wire. If Leslie Knope were introduced to Bodymore, I don't know if she'd fix the system or break.
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From:sabra_n
Date:September 22nd, 2011 07:44 am (UTC)
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Parks and Recreation may be the only sitcom that is influenced by The Wire.

Actually, Dan Harmon has been making noises about rewatching The Wire and being influenced by it for a few months now. We'll see how it turns out - for now all I know is that Michael K. Williams is going to have an arc on Community. Which, along with Parks & Rec, formed my little hour of Thursday happiness last season and hopefully will again. :)
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:September 22nd, 2011 07:52 am (UTC)
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Ha, well, fair enough! Here's to Thursday happiness via The Wire!
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From:robyn_migratori
Date:September 22nd, 2011 08:25 am (UTC)
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Yay, I've been anxiously waiting for your P&R review post! I was just wondering how you'd title it.

You see, the thing about Parks and Recreation is that IT FILLS ME WITH JOY.

Aw. Yes.

(WTF, I have no Parks icons? Unacceptable!)
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:September 22nd, 2011 08:34 am (UTC)
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Yay, I've been anxiously waiting for your P&R review post! I was just wondering how you'd title it.
Hee! I love when people do this.

(WTF, I have no Parks icons? Unacceptable!)
I have no Parks OR Community icons! I must rectify this!
[User Picture]
From:sophiap
Date:September 22nd, 2011 10:37 am (UTC)
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Oh, my god. I have to watch this. It sounds fabulous.
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From:spectralbovine
Date:September 22nd, 2011 01:53 pm (UTC)
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IT IS!!
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From:dharmavati
Date:September 22nd, 2011 12:56 pm (UTC)
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PARKS AND REC OMG! I swear it's the only show that I will watch regularly above all else at this point.
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From:spectralbovine
Date:September 22nd, 2011 03:20 pm (UTC)
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I can't wait for a new episode tonight!!!
From:dotificus
Date:September 22nd, 2011 01:49 pm (UTC)
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I don't like it nearly as much as you do, but it did grow on me and I will be watching tonight. But it's not must-watch-the-night-it's-on TV for me.

I love your reminder about great characters -- great stories are always rooted in great characters.
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:September 22nd, 2011 03:18 pm (UTC)
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I love all the characters! There's no main character I HATE, like Pierce. Even Jerry is endearing.
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From:sophia_helix
Date:September 22nd, 2011 03:12 pm (UTC)
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:) :) :)

I feel like the show really is about the joy. At the end of every episode you feel pleased and like all is right with the world, even if your face hurts from laughing and Jerry painted a picture of Leslie as a topless centaur. Also, I'm glad you read that AV Club article, which I feel like magnified my love of the dhow by ten. (Also my bitter envy of Michael Schur, as previously discussed.)
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From:spectralbovine
Date:September 22nd, 2011 03:24 pm (UTC)
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At the end of every episode you feel pleased and like all is right with the world, even if your face hurts from laughing and Jerry painted a picture of Leslie as a topless centaur.
Yessss. It reminds me of how I said HIMYM just made me happy. And I still enjoy HIMYM, but I think Parks and Rec is doing that job for me now. Everything about it is so endearing.

Also, I'm glad you read that AV Club article, which I feel like magnified my love of the dhow by ten. (Also my bitter envy of Michael Schur, as previously discussed.)
Yeah, what the hell, he puts way more thought into the governmental aspects than I expected. Those interviews are so interesting to read.

Shit, I didn't even talk about the mockumentary-as-visual-vocabulary aspect.
[User Picture]
From:pingback_bot
Date:September 22nd, 2011 03:17 pm (UTC)

(tele)vangelism

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User sophia_helix referenced to your post from (tele)vangelism saying: [...] I first told him about it, but then he did and now he has a great post about Parks and Recreation [...]
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From:annakovsky
Date:September 22nd, 2011 04:06 pm (UTC)

The f*** are you doing, Perd Hapley?

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Yessssss! This totally sums up how I feel about the show -- it just makes me so HAPPY.

It is easy to make a funny show about terrible people being dicks to each other

VERY TRUE -- I almost didn't know it was possible to make a funny show that WASN'T about that.
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:September 22nd, 2011 05:19 pm (UTC)

This reply begins now.

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In the A.V. Club interview, Michael Schur talks about how it's basically a Thing to be negative, but it's played out. He wanted to do something different. And it really, truly amazes me how the show can find humor in, well, nice people doing nice things. And, like I said, it never looks down on its characters for what they do. Even Jerry gets to be a person.
(Deleted comment)
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:September 22nd, 2011 05:20 pm (UTC)
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Or just skip to season two, episode one. Just do that and when you love the show, go ahead and watch the first season for the backstory. Seriously, season two is such an immediate improvement over season one, it's insane.
(Deleted comment)
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From:anoel
Date:September 22nd, 2011 04:43 pm (UTC)
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Word! I love this show and I'm so glad it went the route of The Office and became infinitely better in the second season. Leslie is my FAVORITE. She's just so awesome.
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From:spectralbovine
Date:September 22nd, 2011 05:22 pm (UTC)
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I wanted more from her than just naive optimism in the first season, and then the second season happened and, yeah, I love her. She's so fun and adorable and misguided and driven and problem-solving and neurotic and supportive and dorky and...
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From:sisterjune
Date:September 22nd, 2011 06:14 pm (UTC)
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Parks and Rec! One thing I love about the show, is that it has a proud feminist as the lead role and she's NEVER made fun for it! Also love ben/leslie. adorable couple. although my favorite couple is April/Andy. Everything about them is spontaneous and youthful and fun. basically perfect couple. April and Leslie are my favorites on the show. Although Ben is up there. ben the human disaster <3 You're so right about the pure joy this show is, its really helped me out of a funk when i first watched it a few months ago. I'm so glad i tried this show out, i put it off for years but everyone kept speaking of it so glowingly I had to check it out! The quality is amazingly consistent its just one of my favorite shows and I think it has beaten community for me even though i give community props for taking more chances with their plotlines.
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:September 22nd, 2011 06:17 pm (UTC)
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although my favorite couple is April/Andy. Everything about them is spontaneous and youthful and fun. basically perfect couple.
YES. I LOVE THEM SO MUCH. I WAS DYING FOR MOST OF THE SECOND HALF OF THE SECOND SEASON. DYING.

ALSO JANET SNAKEHOLE AND BERT MACKLIN, FBI.

Also, I agree with everything else you said.

BEN WYATT
HUMAN DISASTER
[User Picture]
From:airbefore
Date:September 22nd, 2011 06:33 pm (UTC)
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You see, the thing about Parks and Recreation is that IT FILLS ME WITH JOY.
YES. The show is hilarious, of course, but I love that I come away from every single episode with a feeling of joy. This is one of the rare shows for where I don't actively dislike any of the characters. I like, if not love, them all. Plus Amy Poehler's stupid face just makes me smile.
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:September 22nd, 2011 06:39 pm (UTC)
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This is one of the rare shows for where I don't actively dislike any of the characters. I like, if not love, them all.
Yes! I just said the same thing above. Like, in another show, Tom could be super sleazy and gross, and on this show...he still kind of is, BUT YOU LOVE HIM ANYWAY.
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From:darlingviolenta
Date:September 22nd, 2011 08:59 pm (UTC)
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I had watched the first season when it aired and was underwhelmed, so I didn't continue with the second season. Obviously I did it wrong. It's okay, though, because I rectified that in July and am all caught up now and ready for new episodes!
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:September 22nd, 2011 09:10 pm (UTC)
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New episode tonight!!! WHAT FRESH JOY IS IN STORE FOR US?
[User Picture]
From:thetheatremouse
Date:September 23rd, 2011 12:38 am (UTC)
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Dude, I am not used to this being ahead of you on the awesome train thing. I assume you are constantly aware of all awesome things to watch and/or read and it is I who must catch up on lapsed awesome consumption. You are late to the party, man, but I am glad you caught up.

(so that's a "yes" to your question)
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:September 23rd, 2011 05:33 am (UTC)
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I was aware! I just wasn't...consuming!

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