Tuesday marks the night we begin to say farewell to Leslie Knope and the parks department on “Parks and Recreation.” The show has come close to being canceled nearly every season it’s been on, but that doesn’t make it any easier to say goodbye. Perpetually low on ratings, the show nevertheless found a devoted audience who loved its optimistic humor and careful creation of a fictional but delightful town. Here are the five things we’ll miss most about the show.
The town of Pawnee, Indiana
We may not have known much about humble Pawnee at the beginning, but we’ve all grown to love the residents of the town (which we all know is First in Friendship, Fourth in Obesity). And who hasn’t enjoyed learning about the colorful Pawnee city mottos? There was the time they got taken over by the cult of Zorp, or the time they claimed to be the birthplace of Julia Roberts, then got sued for it. Mostly, we’ll miss the town’s historical murals, each of which is more offensive than the last.
Coworkers who actually like each other
The cubicle drones of “The Office” often seemed to be living in a state of barely concealed distaste for each other, but “Parks and Recreation” has generally gone in the opposite direction, with the exception of poor Jerry. Or Gary. Or possibly Barry, by this point. As different as the various Parks department employees are, they were always supportive of each other’s endeavors, from Donna investing in the Snakehole Lounge with Tom to the way everyone pulled together for Leslie’s ill-fated city councilwoman campaign.
Leslie Knope herself
At its best, the show found great ways to translate Amy Poehler’s high energy screen presence into a character both hugely dorky and also inspirational. Sure, she loved organizing everything in binders, and went overboard in every facet of her life, but Leslie was the rare comedic creation whose arc combined personal and professional achievements in a way that made everyone root for her.
Remember the episode when April and Andy got married on a whim, only a few episodes after starting to date? It’s unlikely anyone would have guessed those two would be the most stable relationship on the show, but the writers always found cute, funny ways to make them work as a couple despite Andy’s cluelessness and April’s hatred of, well, everything. And while we’re happy Ron found love with Lucy Lawless’ Diane, we’re sad we won’t get to see any new adventures between Ron and Tammy, because Nick Offerman and Megan Mullally bring just the right degree of crazy every time they’re onscreen together.
Its always warm heart
“Parks” has gotten a lot of credit over the years for the warmth of its humor. The show makes you laugh at the antics of its characters, but never sneers at them or asks viewers to mock them. Sure, we knew most of Tom’s business schemes were doomed to failure, but he’s now started a few successful ones, and no one on the show treats him like he’s a fool for dreaming of a live beyond Pawnee. And as outlandish as Leslie’s behavior got, the people around her always loved her for it.