Farewell, Parks and Recreation

It feels like graduation goggles now that I watched the finale of Parks and Recreation, but really, they have been there all along. I don’t remember when I started watching the show, maybe two years ago but it has been one I hold dearest to my heart because of its characters, its sentiment and the way they treated the story.

Season 1 was rocky and I was ready to abandon ship but I couldn’t give up because (a) everybody told me that it gets better and (b) so many people loved it and I needed to know why. As soon as Paul Schneider’s character left, it got better and turned into the show it was in the end. I remember that it took me a while to get into Leslie and the format but holy shit, how am I supposed to be without this show now?

In the endless sea of procedurals, simple half-hour comedy shows and reality tv, Parks and Recreation was something else. It featured one of the brightest, most driven, annoying, lovable and awesome female lead characters I have ever encountered.

A while ago I read a piece about why we should favour Leslie Knope over Liz Lemon from 30 Rock. I don’t remember where I read it but even though I love Liz Lemon, I also love and adore Leslie Knope because she would have been the role model of Mini!Me had she been around for that long. Her dreams were never too big, her heart never too small.

Leslie is hella quirky but she is so smart and driven. She pushes and pushes but in the end succeeds because she never gives up. Never waivers in her beliefs and I think it’s an important thing to show young girls, women and men alike. We can have it all.

Of course this is a fictional character, and all of those on the show have been caricatures of real people (not in the way that they copied off real people but just that they were very specifically one thing install of a mess of things like humans are). Pop culture is so stupidly obsessed with the quirky nerd girl damsel in distress type who bites her lip and falls for a boy who tries to tell her what to do while having a crooked smile.

And then there is Leslie. Who just keeps marching forward against all odds. Feminist to the core. Outspoken, direct, honest, loyal like there’s no tomorrow and so many more things. Have I managed to accurately convey my feelings for Leslie? If not, let me know in the comments and I will squee some more.

But this wasn’t the Leslie Show, it was a collaboration of amazing characters who all had something unique about them. Just something that set them apart and I loved each and every one of them. Aside from Mark, seriously, he was the worst. April, Ron, Andy, Ben, Donna, Tom etc. They were all fantastic and grew so much over the past seven seasons, it’s amazing. Everyone got their story, their moment of crisis, their moment to shine. I could easily write a love letter to every major character.

The relationships these characters formed were some of my favourite on TV. It showed us women not fighting over men but being friends and supporting one another. We got friendships despite all odds and maybe one of the most adorable and stable marriages of any TV, Ben and Leslie. They were equals from the beginning and always treated like that. I love that, unlike on a Shonda Rhimes show, they got together and stayed together. They didn’t break up with each other 2,468 times or slept with other people and then didn’t use their words. They were a bit of a fairy tale but that’s fantastic. There’s this saying that (and I’m paraphrasing) not the young lovesick idiots who poison themselves and die young are the romantic heroes but those who have been married for 50 years and still love and care about one another. That’s the thing to aspire to (at least for me)

I’m thrilled this show exists but I am also sorry to see it go. At least it got a proper farewell. Not every show gets that privilege and I basically just squeed my way through the finale. It was a hell of a ride the show took us on and I’d do it again in a heartbeat.

If you haven’t seen the show, why the hell not and if you have, drop me a line in the comments so we can fangirl together or tell me where my post went wrong.

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