It’s sad to say, but it’s the truth: after tomorrow night, Parks and Recreation will be over. After an improbable seven seasons and over 120 episodes, Leslie Knope and the rest of our favorite folks from Pawnee will say one final goodbye, and I couldn’t be more happy or grateful that we’ve been given this time with such a wonderful show that has featured so many great memorable characters and always valued optimism and positivity over snarkiness and cynicism. In fact, it’s that attitude that Parks and Rec has always had, one that it has consistently showcased through the relationships between its characters, that has made the series so beloved, ensuring that it will be considered an all-time classic sitcom. To put simply, Parks and Recreation always valued sincerity and heart, even more so than humor.
Now, when I say that Parks and Rec is a show that’s more about heart than humor, that doesn’t mean that it’s any less funny than other sitcoms, past or present. Even its seventh and final season, Parks and Recreation makes me laugh more than any other comedy I currently watch, so much so that it’s difficult for me to take notes for my reviews. From Ron Swanson’s never-ending words of wisdom about meat, mustaches, and manliness to Andy’s simple-minded goofiness over the silliest of things to April’s disgust towards pretty much everyone and everything, there has never been a shortage of funny jokes or one-liners on Parks.
But jokes are only a small part of what makes a comedy series so successful. Sure, a sitcom’s goal should be to make you laugh hard and often, but that only works when there has been care and love taken in crafting its characters, making them genuine human beings that television watchers want to spend thirty minutes a week with, fictional people that viewers could envision themselves being friends with if they were to somehow encounter them in the real world. Parks and Rec has taken the time and consideration to do that with every single character in its main cast; no matter how outlandish or cartoonish they may appear (whether we’re talking about Andy’s intelligence or Tom’s douchiness), these are still grounded individuals who feel authentic and genuine when we see them build relationships with one another.
And that’s what Parks and Recreation has been so fantastic at doing throughout its seven seasons: creating relationships that we believe in, relationships that we care about. It doesn’t matter if these are romances (like Ben and Leslie or April and Andy) or friendships (like Tom and Donna, Leslie and Ann, or Leslie and Ron), because Parks has shown us that all types of relationships are important and that people, whether they are related or not, can become a family, a weird, goofy, loving, unique family. These are the people that rallied behind Leslie when she ran for city council, attended three different weddings (April and Andy’s, Ben and Leslie’s, and Donna and Joe’s), and have ensured that each other feel important and appreciated, whether it’s the entire department trying to help April find her dream job, or all of them coming together to celebrate Garry (not Jerry, Larry, or Terry) as Pawnee’s new interim mayor.
So, yes, when Parks and Recreation ends tomorrow night, I’ll remember it for Ron Swason’s Pyramid of Greatness and Ben freaking out when sitting on his replica Iron Throne and Chris telling himself to “stop pooping,” but what I’ll be most grateful for is getting the opportunity to watch this family come together, as they not only made me laugh, but also made me smile and cry and cheer. Thanks for letting me visit Pawnee once a week for the past seven years, Parks and Rec. It sure is a great town.
[Photos via NBC]
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