After watching The Office last year, I came across another interesting series from the makers of the popular sitcom. Even in a mockumentary format, its quite different from all the movies/series I have watched in my lifetime- a political satire.
Being an apolitical person myself, I had my own reservations about whether I would enjoy the show or not. As I watched first few episodes, I got hooked to the show and the next thing I knew was binge watching the entire show by myself…
For this series, I’m gonna talk a little bit about all the seasons and the characters (or aspects of the characters) I liked the most.
Parks and Recreation – Season 1
The story started with Leslie Knope, a pro-Govt., overly optimistic and hardworking Govt. employee in a small town named Pawnee, in Indiana. Working in the govt. and serving people of the country had been her life-long dream. Dream job it might be, but it wasn’t easy for sure to work as a deputy director of Parks and Recreation Department of Pawnee.
Leslie’s anti-govt. libertarian boss, Ron Swanson was least interested in getting things done and helping people.
“Normally, if given the choice between doing something and nothing, I’d choose to do nothing. But I will do something if it helps someone else do nothing. I’d work all night, if it meant nothing got done.”Ron
Leslie’s assistant Tom Haverford and the summer intern April Ludgate were as useless as Ron- utterly uninterested in taking any responsibility whatsoever. There was city planner Mark Brendanawicz- Leslie’s one night stand cum low-key love interest. There were 2 more characters Jerry and Donna in the Parks dept. of City Hall, whom we don’t see that much in the 1st season.
Leslie met Ann Perkins in a public forum held for addressing public grievance. Ann came to complaint about an abandoned construction-pit next to her house, as her boyfriend Andy Dwyer fell into it and broke both of his legs… Leslie took personal interest in filling up the pit and building a park there… Despite resistance from Ron, other authorities and formalities, Leslie formed a team for this project.
Leslie and Ann became friends. Ann’s dysfunctional relationship with man-child and lead-singer-of-a-band Andy came to an end. Ann briefly dated Mark…
Parks and Recreation – Season 2
After Ann broke up with Andy, he started living in the pit itself, hoping Ann to reconcile with him soon… After meeting a lot of hurdles in the way, Leslie decided to fill the pit herself without taking the permission. While filling the pit with dirt, Leslie and Ann discovered Andy living down there. Injured Andy threatened to sue Leslie for a hefty amount of money, as he was technically homeless and had no money and Ann pointed out that as a reason for breaking up with him.
Leslie and Andy came to an agreement that he wouldn’t sue her for the money and ask her to fill the pit instead.
Mark left City Hall for a private job. He definitely had a soft corner for Leslie and left a rough plan for Leslie’s dream park.
Due to budget deficit, state auditors Chris Trager and Ben Wyatt came to visit Pawnee and the Pawnee govt. shut down temporarily.
Ben: We need to cut expenditures by 32 percent.
Ron: Let’s make it an even 40.
Parks and Recreation – Season 3
The Pawnee govt. reopened and the auditors were looking for all possible ways to save some bucks. Chris was surprisingly charming and optimistic and his companion was equally blunt and practical. Because of their positions at work Leslie and Ben didn’t get along at first but later both became friends after realizing their passion to do well at their jobs.
Leslie took one last chance to save her department from dissolving- by proposing to bring back harvest festival. If the festival failed, she wouldn’t protest against eliminating the department. Ron, on the other hand, was enjoying his time in proposing many ways to slash budget, from demolishing City Hall to privatizing Govt. owned properties and what not!
The harvest festival became a huge success- thanks to Leslie’s commendable effort and presence of mind.
Chris became the city manager of Pawnee and Ben took a job too- and became Leslie’s boss at work. Chris and Ann dated for few months and eventually Chris broke up with Ann. Chris being overly polite, Ann couldn’t realize their break up and continued to hang out with him for few more days!
Leslie and Ben developed feelings for each other. Because of the strict rules against office romance, the 2 tried to suppress their feelings and stick to the status quo- however, they gave in to their heart’s desire at last and started seeing each other secretly.
April, who was unimpressed with literally everything good and pure in the world, somehow fell for Andy. Andy was working a shoe-shiner at City Hall. After some initial problems because of Andy’s past with Ann, they got together in a spontaneous wedding ceremony.
Leslie’s lazy and demotivated assistant Tom quit his job to start his entertainment company named Entertainment 720, with a scumbag named Jean-Ralphio. Because of poor money management, the business venture failed. Tom, too embarrassed to return to his old job, kept struggling at different low-paying jobs. After finding out the truth Ron forced him to resume working in City Hall.
Mostly uninterested in any social interaction, Ron showed his caring side in this season. Even though not directly, he was always looking out for April and Tom, and for Leslie as well…
“Dear frozen yogurt, you are the celery of desserts. Be ice cream or be nothing. Zero stars.”Ron
Parks and Recreation – Season 4
It was the next big step in Leslie’s career. Leslie was to run for city council… To avoid scandal and Leslie losing her job, Ben took matters in his hands and quit from his job. The Park department volunteered to campaign for Leslie and Ben became her campaign manager. Ben was still haunted by his past failure, he became mayor of his hometown at the age of 18, due to lack of experience and maturity he failed terribly at his job. He had been trying to redeem himself ever since…
Leslie’s opponent was Bobby Newport, who was the son of a rich business man. Bobby’s campaign manager Jennifer was seasoned in the game and was giving Leslie and team a good run.
After break up with Chris, Ann finally started recognizing her toxic traits. First few weeks were downright terrible, out of desperation or loneliness, she dated a lot of random dudes. She realized how her life and personality was highly influenced by all of her romantic interests. She took a step back from dating and focussed on her personal growth and happiness.
“Capitalism: God’s way of determining who is smart and who is poor.”Ron
Parks and Recreation – Season 5
In season 5, Leslie faced a lot of resistance working as city councillor. Ben moved to Washington DC to work in a congressional campaign, taking April with him. Ben and Leslie got incredibly busy with their new responsibilities and found it increasingly difficult to relate to each other’s work situation. April and Andy were struggling with long distance too.
Just when work pressure began to pull Ben and Leslie farther apart, Ben surprised Leslie by coming back to Pawnee and proposing her for marriage. Later in a fund-raising event for the park, the couple decided to have an impromptu wedding … They got married in the City Hall in presence of their closest friends and colleagues.
Ron met the perfect woman for himself while fixing a pothole on a street himself. Diane was divorced and had 2 beautiful daughters. She was very confident and assertive. Instead of waiting around for Ron to show interest in her, she took the matter into her own hands. Diane walked into the City Hall and asked Ron out on a lunch date. Things moved pretty smoothly and soon we could see Diane dropping her daughters to Ron to take care of them while she had to attend some urgent work. Babysitting 2 chaotic toddlers wasn’t Ron’s strongest suit, but it showed how much he cared for Diane and was invested in the relationship.
Tom on the other hand started another business to rent high end fashion to teenagers with help of his colleagues and friends in the parks department… The business turned out to be a big hit in the market.
Leslie was recalled from the office because of local’s petitions against her actions, making her come back to the old job. This also showed how Leslie journey wasn’t always moving in upward direction.
“Give a man a fish and feed him for a day. Don’t teach a man to fish…and feed yourself. He’s a grown man. And fishing’s not that hard.”Ron
Parks and Recreation – Season 6
This season has a lot of focus on Pawnee’s neighbour town Eagleton and its people. After declaring bankruptcy, the town got merged with Pawnee. This town was part of Pawnee long back and was made into a separate town. The town was home to a lot of rich people and looked much more sophisticated than its origin town. Leslie always hated this town for looking so perfect from the outside and for the people to look down upon Pawnee. She always took pride in saying that she was born and brought up in Pawnee and was the best person to serve the people of the town. She felt betrayed when she came to know that she was actually born in Eagleton, the town she hated all her life!
Leslie was back in the parks department in her old position and Ben was voted in as the city manager- unlike the previous time, the couple didn’t have to hide their feelings at work anymore.
Tom sold his successful business venture Rent-a-Swag to Dr. Saperstein, Jean-Ralphio’s father and opened a restaurant named Tom’s Bistro.
Ann and Chris got together and Ann got pregnant. The couple moved to Michigan to start a new life there.
Leslie found out that she was pregnant with triplets. She also took the job of a Regional Director for the National Park Service in Chicago.
“The less I know about other people’s affairs, the happier I am. I’m not interested in caring about people. I once worked with a guy for three years and never learned his name. Best friend I ever had. We still never talk sometimes.”Ron
Parks and Recreation – Season 7
Having few years passed by, Ron and Leslie lost their friendship to time, work and personal interests. Ron left his govt. job and started his construction company “Very Good Building and Development Company”. Ron and Leslie’s enmity picked when Ron’s company broke down Ann’s old house to make an apartment building. It wasn’t affecting Ann but was of great sentimental value to Leslie. To end the bad blood between 2 old friends Ben and others tricked the 2 to spend some time alone in the office building where they used to work.
Leslie was working from City Hall even though she wasn’t part of the old parks department anymore. She took in most of her colleagues in her own department and some left to work with Tom. Ron realized that he didn’t have a single familiar face in the parks department and started feeling lonely. He went to meet Leslie to ask for a job in her department. Because of her other commitments she forgot to meet him and Ron too drifted apart silently without bringing it up again. After being forced to spend time with Leslie and being persuaded to fess up for few hours, he finally spoke his heart out and the two rekindled their old friendship.
Leslie found the best job for Ron to look after a national park where he could walk all over the beautiful piece of land with few rangers without needing to have much human interaction… Even though Ron was so different than the rest of her work mates, Leslie understood his needs very well. Every birthday she used to surprise her other friends with appropriate gifts, for Ron- it used to be means to stay away from people, a remote controlled door closing system, a dinner of his favorite meal while watching his favorite movie by himself are some of the examples of Leslie’s gifts to Ron.
Ben convinced a tech-company named Gryzzl to provide free wifi to Pawnee and later found out the company was collecting lot of private data illegally to farther their cause. With Ron’s support, they kicked them out of Pawnee.
Donna got married to her ex-boyfriend, whom she met after long time. Tom found love as well, a girl he met long back in a bar and became friends with almost instantly.
Andy became a superstar in a kids show and gained a lot of popularity by simply being himself…
“Fishing relaxes me. It’s like yoga, except I still get to kill something.”Ron
My Final Thoughts
Parks and Recreation, as a whole is a beautiful show, giving the audience a melting pot for different types of personalities, Ron – a hard-core liberal in a govt. building, looks tough and apathetic towards everyone, but actually is an honourable man with a soft heart and who looked out for his friends, Leslie – a annoyingly optimistic and assertive woman trying to make world a better place, paving path for more women in politics, aggressively loving and passionate towards her work and friends pushed her way through patriarchal society, Tom – starting off as a clueless irresponsible intern, found himself through making and breaking new business ideas, learning to appreciate his supportive friends, Donna – a very chilled girl, saying iconic things in the most unapologetic way possible (Donna barely had any lines in the first few seasons, her character was such an interesting element to the series, I wish the writers had made more space for the character to grow), April – an apathetic teenage girl whose pastime summer internship became an actual job and finally finding her true passion as a career advisor by the end of the series, Andy – a character whom we can all adore for being a pure soul, Garry/Larry/Jerry – the aged man who was butt of every joke, yet so loving and welcoming to everyone, Ann – starting off as a nurse who is in a dysfunctional relationship with a man-child (Andy) and ultimately learning to become her best self and always showing unparallel love and support to Leslie and April.
Chris and Ben’s characters bring more flavors, Chris being the overly optimistic and charismatic boss who doesn’t know how to break the bad news and Ben – nerd at heart and constantly trying to redeem the mistakes that he made at very young age as a mayor, Ben showed perfect composure and support to Leslie even though it meant losing his own job or not in the best interest of his career. Women can do so much when their partners are so supportive and secure.
The friendship dynamics are simply amazing- even though every friendship was somewhat unique… Leslie and Ann were instant best friends, whereas it took years for April to show how much she loved Ann. Ron and Leslie were best buds as well. Ron watched out for April, Andy and Tom like a concerned guardian, Tom and Donna bonded over ‘treat yo self’ / boujee rereats, Chris and Ben were good friends too, which we could see more when Ben was going through a depressive phase.
If you can’t tell already, my favorite character is hands down Ron Swanson. His character had this element of surprise, always delivering the most ridiculous ideas in a serious way. From time to time, Ron’s encounter with his 2 ex-wives (both named Tammy, Ron’s mother was also called Tammy!), his double-agent life as Duke Silver, are worth mentioning.
“On my deathbed, my final wish is to have my ex-wives rush to my side so I can use my dying breath to tell them both to go to hell one last time.”Ron
I would rate this show a solid 4 out 5 stars. That’s all for today, thanks for reading! 😊
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