Saturday, November 10, 2012

Parks and Recreation

Written by Joe the Revelator

To say something "Grew on me" usually brings to mind a fungus or mold, sinking its hyphae or roots under my skin until I'm forced to pressure-wash the offending parasite, lest I become used to it. Or worse, crave its' presence.

Parks and Recreation, the mockumentary starring Amy Poahler, absolutely grew on me. I stopped watching it after the first few episodes became available on Netflix, writing it off as another inner-office comedy aimed at cubicle prisoners, and those who long for interesting dialogue from their coworkers to keep their minds from rotting. I don't like cubicles. I don't care for the yammering of fellow drones in the workplace. And watching a show about other people at work, makes me feel like I'm at work.

But cooler, less judgmental heads prevailed, and I found myself sitting in front of the warm glow of the television, watching as a small branch of government slowly tore itself apart through the trials of the bureaucratic process. And I laughed.

 The town's past is slowly revealed over the course of several episodes with these horrendous "Historical Paintings". They may be the greatest feature of Parks and Rec.

A picture's worth a thousand smirks.

Parks and Rec takes place in the fictional town of Pawnee Indiana, a rural community plagued by racism, sexism, bigotry, fear bordering on paranoia, and an overwhelming obesity problem. In short, Pawnee represents all the negative aspects of living in a small town, collected into one volatile community. It's the perfect setting for a team of apathetic government workers, and one ultra-optimistic woman who borders on saccharin-sweet; Leslie Knope.

 To balance the unending positive energy of the Knope-machine, the rest of the team consists of Ron Swanson, a libertarian supervisor who keeps a claymore mine on his desk and an antique shotgun facing anyone who walks through his office door. Jerry, the loveable office screw-up, who endures an unreasonable amount of ridicule from his peers. Ann, the "normal" element, who was added to the crew to highlight how odd everyone's behavior is. Tom, Leslie Knope's assistant, who acts like a disgruntled Brooks Brother's salesman and uses the parks department as his personal entrepreneurial kickstart. And April the intern, who makes the show feel like a real documentary by frequently glaring strait into the camera, and exudes the angsty attitude of a high school punk-rocker. Others join the team, and some leave over time, but the chemistry is kept throughout the first few seasons.

The Ron Swanson Pyramid of Greatness, which is introduced to a kid's basketball team to inspire them and give them principles...just before Ron administers mandatory crew cuts, sheering 10-year-olds like sheep.

If you can't beat 'em, Sweet'ems.

Cameos are made by members of the Saturday Night Live cast, as well as many other improvisational comedy groups and Stand-Up comedians. The mockumentary format never changes from season to season, but the jokes seem to compound on themselves, drawing from past episodes for witty punchlines, so I wouldn't recommended jumping into Parks and Rec without watching the episodes in order. I do, however, recommend watching more than one episode in a row. The ongoing political battles and struggles of the parks department segway quite well into one another.


  1. I watched the whole first (second?) season, but I found the following lackluster. Are there any "best of" episodes you would recommend?

  2. Other than that, awesome job! I also dislike shows about work.

  3. The two parts of the show that kept me watching were the horrifyingly offensive murals, which are spread out throughout the show, and Ron Swanson. As far as specific episodes, I enjoyed the Snakejuice episode, the episode with Zorp the Destroyer (a town cult who claims the end is coming...anually), and the episode where Ron explains the function of the government to a little girl.

  4. Joe! After your post, I just wanted to let you know that I went back to Parks and Rec, and now I'm totally addicted. Thank you for writing this and motivating me to give it another chance.