Parks and Recreation is one of the best comedies on tv right now. It’s smart, it’s witty, it’s well written and all the other buzzwords people throw around to get you interested in their favorite shows. Are you watching it yet? Why not? Wait, don’t tell me. I think I know why. And now I will proceed to tell you your own reasons and why they are so stupid.
1. “It’s exactly like the Office, only different people and not as funny.”
If by “exactly like the Office” you mean it’s done in the Mockumentary style and centers on an overbearing boss that makes their employees uncomfortable at times, yes, it is exactly like the Office in the same way that you and Adolph Hitler are both human beings from the Planet Earth who have two arms and two legs [Ed note: sorry people missing limbs, also humanity]. Yes I could spend hours reciting the ways you and the Fuhrer are alike, but the truth is I can do the same telling you all the differences. And if I spend a measly half-hour every week hanging out with you, I’m pretty sure I’ll disassociate you with that terrible excuse for a person completely. See what I did there? You can do the same and see Parks and Rec for its own merits.
Also, let’s not pretend the Office didn’t hit a slump even before Michael Scott left. I could make an astoundingly accurate comparison to Germany, but I think I’ve been sufficiently offensive enough for you to keep reading.
2. “I’ve seen a few episodes and it wasn’t funny/I didn’t like it/it didn’t speak to me.”
You know what show was awesome? Breaking Bad. You know this and I know you know this even if you think you don’t. Because a month ago literally everyone was talking about it. No, that’s not what “literally” means, but to me “everyone” means “everyone I know” and everyone to me knew about how great it was because I REFUSED TO SHUT UP ABOUT IT. Also random companies were jumping on the #BreakingBadFinale advertising bandwagon absolutely free. When something motivates those greedy, faceless corporations to promote a creative product receiving nothing in return simply to look good by vague association, that’s how you know it’s good.
But you didn’t really know how awesome it was, did you? Because you hadn’t been watching it consistently. Because you saw a few episodes here and there and though, “Eh.” Because by the time it got amazing it was far too late for you to get on board without looking like one of those pathetic piggybacking corporations.
Well I have good news. Parks and Recreation is somehow not that popular despite being consistently hilarious and amazing. It’s not too late. Take my hand, I’ll take you to a magical place where you can finally be part of the “I liked it before it was cool” crowd. We’ll sit at the ILIBIWC crowd tables with the rest of the ILIBIWC crowd and made witty pop culture references to the show that no one else around us will get and we will laugh heartily and genuinely and they will lament their inability to join our usual table in JJ’s Diner feasting on all bacon and eggs you have because they lack the digestive enzymes only years of exposure to Sweetums can provide.
If you don’t care at all about any of that stuff, just watch the first half of Season Three because that’s where they start hitting their stride. Eight episodes. Under four hours. Don’t pretend you don’t have time. You’re reading this.
3. “I just really can’t stand Amy Poehler/Rashida Jones/Aziz Ansari/Aubrey Plaza/Retta.”
Let me tell you a story.
Once Upon a Time in the land of TotallyUnfairBiaston, there lived three triplet brothers: Me, Myself, and I. Having nothing better to do than sit around and watch daytime cable, this trio often subjected themselves to reruns and reruns of “The Soup” and “Attack of the Show”. Despite repeated warnings from their priest, Father Ofmine, that too much of anything can be a bad thing, still they allowed these low-budget programs to be rerun-into-the-ground with hours upon hours of constant consumption. Soon Me’s hatred for Joel McHale’s smug insults toward the already bottom-feeding reality show contestants was unruly. Oliva Munn’s desperate pandering toward lonely, desperate geeks began to offend the most basic sense of human decency within Myself. It got totally out of control. The very mention of their names caused Me to rage and Myself to throw up. Anything they were associated with immediately lost any and all appeal to Me.
But then… a light in the darkness. A diamond in the rough. The answer I sought all along. A show called “Community”.
I was initially put-off by it. After all, if that jerk Joel McHale made Me cringe, how could I ever consider liking a show that not only stars, but centers around him? Lo and behold, his character, Jeff Winger, is Joel McHale incarnate, a self-parody of buttholiness and asshattery that more often than gets it in the end and begrudgingly learns lessons. It’ was the kind of Mel Brooksian self-aware humor I couldn’t help but admire. Soon I couldn’t stop Me and couldn’t contain Myself. It became the brothers’ favorite tv show. And though Joel McHale was not and is not to this day their favorite actor, I still respects him, he still impresses Me, and often touches Myself.
And they all lived Happily Every After. To the end of the Sixth Season and a Movie.
[Ed note: “I” in that story is actually Daniel DeMoss. Thanks for being my friend enough to know I would love the show. I can credit myself for getting into “The Newsroom” and giving Olivia Munn a second chance.]
Basically, you don’t stop going to a great restaurant because you hate that one waiter, you just ignore that waiter. You don’t transfer colleges because some dude was a jerk to you, you just avoid him. There are a dozen other reasons you like those places that far outweigh that one irksome personality. Giving it all up on account of a single person would be…. (all together now) stupid.
4. “There are just so many great shows on tv nowadays, I don’t have time for them all.”
Okay, I’ll give you this one. You’re right.
Critics and such often talk about how we’re currently in a Golden Age of Television and I absolutely agree. The reality show boom is fading or collecting in the cesspool networks like Bravo and TLC where it keeps the bottom-feeders far away from influencing the quality programming. More shows are becoming more experimental and therefore more creative and therefore attracting the attention of actually talented individuals. Non-TV options like Netflix and HULU are delivering millions upon millions of viewers the networks never dreamed they’d be able to reach, much less retain. TV budgets are ballooning and technology is advancing in perfect harmony and allowing networks to deliver high quality renderings of subject material previously only attainable on the silver screen.
And yet still, it all comes down to a single number. The Nielsen Ratings.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s value in the Nielsen system of delivering live television ratings. With the DVR quickly becoming a standard of the average American Household, live ratings are the only guarantee that someone somewhere is actively or passively consuming your ads. Like it or not, those ads are almost always the reason you’re able to watch whatever it is you’re watching. Corporations make such an absurd profit on their products, they’re able to spend billions of dollars on 15-second increments of time in front of your eyes to subliminally encourage you to give them more money. And it works. It’s the classic love triangle between talent, consumer, and sponsor that keeps the world economy going ’round. But the do-or-die emphasis put on that single number is ancient history.
Parks and Rec is one such example of why. It has never been a huge ratings draw and likely never will be before it ends. And yet it chugs along, still going strong and getting stronger. Why? Because it has passionate fans, and passionate fans means free publicity, which as I established in Point #2 is worth its weight in pure blue meth. A passionate fanbase creates long-winded blogs, hilarious gifs and memes, and outrageous clothes and costumes that showcase a show in all its glory for the purest of Capitalistic sentiments: they want more.
So yes, this reason is stupid, but it’s not your fault. If you’re a fanatic for any of the high-quality shows currently on television, I applaud you and defer to your judgement.
With one exception.
5. “It comes on at the same time as Big Bang Theory, and I loooove that show.”
Whenever I take one of those personality Alignment Tests, I tend to fall in the True Neutral category with an occasional foray into the Neutral Good and Lawful Good. But I take pride in being True Neutral. I always try to be objective, to empathize with others human and animal alike before passing judgement and avoiding judgement at all when I can. Often in a dispute between co-workers, both sides willingly seek me out for counsel or simply to vent. I listen. I nod. I affirm. And then if I feel so my advice is sought, I offer it in a way that doesn’t affirm either party’s passions, but attempts to make transparent why the disagreement took place and why the other person has reacted the way they did. No one was right or wrong. They simply did what they thought was best with the information made available to them. I suppress personal feelings; I try to speak in truths.
So if the words at this top of this bullet or any variation ever crossed your lips, your keyboard, or even your actual mind that was not just making ironic intentionally inflammatory ideas for funsies, I’m begging you, absolutely pleading with you, DO NOT TELL ME because I will be completely and wholly unable to prevent myself from thinking less of you as a human being. It’s petty and it’s silly and it’s just the polar opposite of the reasonable person I strive to be, but it’s the truth. It’s who I am. I can’t change it anymore than I can change my sex — that is to say, you’ll have to surgically remove some vital organs and even then you’re just removing my ability to be what I was.
This reasoning isn’t just stupid. It’s abhorrent. It’s more offensive to my sensibilities than if Will Smith had been Mr. Miyagi to his own son in that Karate Kid remake. I have been less insulted by the elderly asserting I had a hand in Pearl Harbor. I can stomach a hundred lifetimes of people pulling at the corner of their eyes and sputtering every conceivable combination of “ch-/p-/w-/d-/t-/f-” and “-ong/-ang/ing/-ung” before I can accept that shows supposed comic superiority. I’ll watch “Toddlers and friggin’ Tiaras” on repeat before that show gets a single second of a single percentage or a single point of ratings from me.
Okay it’s not that bad. BUT IT IS FAR, FAR FROM BEING GOOD, MUCH LESS DESERVING OF THE MONEY ADVERTISERS THROW AT IT. IT IS THE TWO AND A HALF MEN OF TV SHOWS. WAIT, IT IS TWO AND A HALF MEN. THEY ARE THE SAME. LIFE IS OVER. ALL HAIL CTHULHU.
So there’s that.
If by some chance reading this wall of text littered with pretentious syntax and reeking of a superiority complex hasn’t convinced you to give Parks and Rec a shot, then I will give you a handful of brief, positive reasons you should watch it. And I will do it counting backwards for suspense.
3 Brief and Positive Reasons You Should Be Watching Parks and Recreation
3. It captures the absurdity and charm of living in a small town
The show takes place in Pawnee, Indiana, a fictional town that suffers from all-too familiar small town problems: a corporate source of jobs wielding too much political power, local journalists and personalities who have no qualms about being biased, citizens who can’t fathom issues past their own front yard. As someone who grew up in small town, it’s all incredibly relate-able. And yet the main characters who want to “improve” the city and make it “better” are just as absurd as those they deal with, if a bit more fleshed out. Everyone on the show is outrageous and larger than life. And it’s hilarious.
2. It’s not as politically-biased as you might think
Because a vast majority of shows are produced in New York or Los Angeles, they’re prone to being distinctly left-leaning, which can be especially irritating to moderates and rights who just want to watch something funny without a stupid political message. Parks and Recreation is that show. Yes the main character is an idealistic, progressive champion of women’s right who sexualizes US VP Joe Biden in some hilarious ways, but she has qualities that balance her views. She’s a sugar fiend, not a health nut. She demonizes the public library and their associates (and it’s justified). And she unabashedly womanizes (menanizes? manizes? bromanizes?) her husband so often it makes you wonder if she only wants him for his body.
And then there’s her boss, her opposite, her foil. The instant classic of a character that will live on long after the show ends.
1. Ron f*cking Swanson
Google it. You won’t regret it.