In 2015, any person under a certain age with an internet connection and a subscription service has succumbed to the Binge Watch. You know the drill, you either have a couple of days off work, or you stay up at night and watch several episodes of a television show on Netflix or Hulu, and you can’t stop until you’ve finished the series. My wife and I are no different in this aspect. We start a show, and we keep going and going and going. Bingeworthy is a feature on this site dedicated to those shows. Parks and Recreation is one of those shows. It’s completely hilarious, light, and fun, but it’s best feature is its character work and heart.
The show started off as a rip off of The Office. Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler) was a female Michael Scott, and that’s essentially what the show was. A wacky office show based in a small town government setting, but by the second season it found its voice and quickly became an incredible wacky weekly 30 minute romp into the lives of several fleshed out characters while also providing a completely subversive feminist message. Men quickly took the back seat in this show, and it focused on friendship and strong female characters, which even today is rarity. 30 Rock also pulled this off to a certain extent, but still had a male character in the driver’s seat for the majority of its run. The only show that I can compare the strength of feminism to is The Unbreakable Kimmy Shmidt, which was created by Poehler’s celebrity best friend, and star of 30 Rock, Tina Fey. Females are strong as Hell.
While the feminist aspect of Parks and Rec is a huge part of the show, the reason to keep watching is the massive love that you develop for the characters. They’re funny, weird, and deep. The characters are so well done that you truly care about the lives that are being developed, and while other shows grow their characters, by the end of the show’s run, you tend to get a little bored, or actors have moved on or characters become replaced by other similar characters. It’s what critics refer to as “jumping the shark,” and while there is one episode that kind of makes you think Parks and Rec is about to go down that road, it switches things up and begins the progression to the end of the series, instead. It finishes before it gets old.
I used to watch Parks and Rec as the show was airing, but got behind after about the fourth season, and I never caught up. The show didn’t lose quality, it just became inconvenient to watch due to my personal life, but a couple of weeks ago, I decided that I would remedy that mistake by spending the next few days watching nothing but this hilarious show, and I’m glad I did. If you’ve yet to watch Parks and Recreation, or you fell off the horse like I did, you should go fire up Netflix or Hulu (I’d say Hulu, in this case as the entire series is available) and spend the next week in Pawnee, Indiana. You won’t regret it.