Farewell Parks and Rec

(Editor’s Note: A�We’re going to take a hiatus from games for this one. A�I’ve been meaning to do this article for a few months, but it got lost in the shuffle. A�Parks and Recreation was such a good show that I want to give it a proper send off. A�Don’t worry. A�The games will be back next week.)

(2nd Editor’s Note: A�I have been trying to break up my posts from appearing as a wall of text. A�Because of my respect for this fantastic show, I’m bringing back the wall for this article. A�TLDR: A�Parks and Rec is a very good show. A�If you haven’t seen it, watch it. A�You won’t be disappointed.)

When I last wrote a “Farewell” post, it was for The Walking Dead and it was because I just couldn’t handle the level of violence and misery offered by the show. A�I’m getting sensitive in my old age. A�American Horror Story suffered a similar fate after their love of shock seemed to trump any attempt at story. A�I never wrote an article about that show because (a) I don’t have the history with that show and (b) I didn’t have a web page at the time. A�My history with Parks and Rec is not as deep as Walking Dead, either, but it is significant.

I come not to bury Parks and Recreation. A�In fact, when I tuned into the most recent season a few months ago, I had no idea that it was the final season. A�Rather, I come to praise it as one of the most consistent shows ever. (Who knew that memorizing that speech would someday pay off? A�My 9th grade English teacher, that’s who!) I knew that sounds like damning with faint praise, but I’m not.

It wasn’t one of my favorite shows. A�I found it not because of a personal recommendation or overwhelming critical praise, but completely by accident. A�I think that it came up as one of the “Shows You May Like” or whatever Hulu calls it. A�I watched the first few episodes and just kept watching because it was always good. A�Other shows have ups and downs. A�That never happened with Parks and Rec. A�It just kept plugging along like the little engine that could. A�Again, I’m not doing such a great job of selling this. A�Admittedly, I’m a terrible salesman. A�Let me try again.

Initially I watched for the same reason that I suspect many watched. A�There are so many familiar faces in the show. A�Hey, she’s from SNL. A�That’s Pam’s boyfriend from The Office. A�No, not that one. A�The other one. A�The one that nobody liked because we were supposed to be all in on Jim and Pam. A�Speaking of, remember the whole Jim and Pam fight story line? A�Ups and downs, Man, ups and downs. A�Holy cow, is that Rob Lowe?

Eventually, I had watched enough for the other characters to become more recognizable. A�I didn’t like Tom much at first. A�He grew on me. A�I’m not sure if it was by design–though I suspect it was because the show never suffered from identity crisis, either–gradually Tom’s bravado became a thin veneer of armor to protect his soft and fuzzy heart of gold. A�Holy mixed metaphors, Batman! A�I saw myself in Tom’s story and I started to root for the guy. A�Even as he repeatedly hitched his wagon to John Ralphio (who is the closest to unwatchable as the show ever came and I never considered it), I looked forward to Tom’s scenes more and more with each passing episode.

My other alter ego on the show, April, appealed to me right away. A�Like Ton, she hid her true identity. A�Unlike Tom, but more like me, she used her acerbic wit to deflect any possible feelings. A�I instantly identified with her sarcasm as a defense mechanism. A�She was my first favorite character on the show.

Andy, who I mistakenly identified earlier as the they that everyone was supposed to hate on The Office to make them love Jim and Pam more, played such an iconic role that I have a tough time placing him in new roles. A�Similar to Sarah Michelle Gellar, who I will always identify as Buffy and vice versa. A�I always thought it was just because she was such a bad actor, but I’m having the same trouble with him. A�He played Starlord, one of my favorite comic book characters of all time and I still think of him as “Andy” and it even sometimes is “Andy” followed by a wide smile.

Donna was fine as “everybody’s sassy black lady friend”, Jerry was a bit tiresome as the fat, old, dumb white guy. A�Neither of them added enough to the show to be anything more than minor supporting characters, but they both fit into the roles well. A�Granted, they both became beloved, too, but at first they weren’t a reason to watch the show.

The main reason to watch the show, for me and others no doubt, was the incomparable Ron Swanson. A�Leslie might have been the main character of Parks and Rec, the other characters might have been the glue to keep the show together. A�None of that would have mattered without Ron. A�Put simply, Ron is Parks and Rec. A�Similar to Dwight, he represents everything the show stands for. A�There’s a reason that those two characters transcended to become memes and pop culture icons.

Other characters came and went as they do. A�The show continued being good and improved with each episode. A�I enjoyed the show so much that I branched off into another showA�because Hulu also recommended that one. A�I actually liked that show, Outsourced, better than Parks and Rec at first. A�I was clearly in the minority since it only lasted one season. A�Oh well, I guess I got my dad’s (I picked Betamax over VHS) talent when it comes to picking winners.

My collision course with this final season of Parks and Recreation marched onward to inevitability. A�Little did I know that it would happen so soon and so suddenly. A�Even as I watched, I thought that it was weird that they kept flashing forward to tell part of the story. A�It was a cool story telling device, but I never made the connection that they were doing it because we were saying good-bye to these characters. A�I learned through a podcast or the radio that it was the final season and then it hit hard.

I went back to watch the first couple of episodes again. A�If they were stopping the show, then I wanted to be able to experience the end with my undivided attention. A�I’m glad that I did. A�Each episodeA�focused on one character and what happened to them after the show ended. A�True to form, it treated all of the characters with respect and gave them all proper send offs. A�I don’t think that I disagreed with a single ending for any of the characters. A�I was wrong when they got closer and finally revealed Leslie’s, which is odd because I’m usually able to follow the clues better than that. A�Nevertheless, the episode was great and all of the others were, too. A�That’s also strange for me because I’m usually difficult to please when it comes to endings. A�The best of them was Ron and I was just waiting for them to screw that one up, but they didn’t.

All in all, I guess I could say that this was one of my favorite shows. A�I didn’t aggressively watch it like Breaking Bad. A�I didn’t look forward to it like Walking Dead. A�I didn’t share it with Christine as I’ve done with many other shows. A�But, I did watch it and I watched it consistently and I watched it to the end. A�Not only did I watch it to the end, but I enjoyed that ending more than anticipated or expected. A�It might not have been a great show, but it was a very good show. A�It was always very good and that consistency is rare to find. A�Thank you so much for the years of entertainment, Parks and Recreation. A�Television is so much worse in your absence.

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