"Parks and Recreation" may have been dreamed up as a spinoff to "The Office," but it very quickly found its voice as a uniquely optimistic comedy about a group of people working for the government of a small midwestern town. Leslie Knope became one of TV's most feminist characters, and her colleagues and friends found ways to support her even if they didn't totally agree with her. Here, in no particular order, are the episodes that provided the best, and funniest, looks at life in Pawnee, Indiana.
1. Season 2, "Pawnee Zoo"
The first season of "Parks and Recreation," to put it lightly, did not achieve the heights of later seasons. But the show came roaring back with its second season premiere, called "Pawnee Zoo." In the episode, Leslie performs a wedding ceremony between two penguins at the local zoo, only to discover later on that they're both male penguins, and she's inadvertently performed a gay marriage ceremony. This proves to be an excellent opportunity for various wackadoo citizens to come forward and protest the ceremony. Leslie starts to apologize, only to realize she's become a hero to the town's gay community. It's one of the last times Leslie considers backing down on her principles — it's hard to imagine season 7 Leslie considering a request like that seriously.
2. Season 2, "Ron and Tammy"
This is the episode that first introduces us to Ron's ex-wife Tammy, played by Nick Offerman's real-life wife Megan Mullally. Tammy would return time and again over the remaining seasons, because she and Ron share powerful chemistry together, and because Tammy is insane. Who knew that the Pawnee librarians were the town's villains? Only on "Parks" would such a thing be the case, but we were glad to see Mullally every time she returned, and particularly that time she returned and Ron got cornrows.
3. Season 2, "Hunting Trip"
OK, we promise, this will be the last season 2 episode, but for the record, "The Camel" is also a classic. "Hunting Trip" is one of the great ensemble episodes, as the whole group goes hunting together and Ron gets shot in the back of the head. The culprit turns out to be Tom, but Leslie takes the fall for him because he doesn't have a hunting license. The episode is also the first time viewers got a real sense of Donna, who has a loud, hysterical reaction when a window in her Benz gets shot out in all the hubbub. But the real highlight is Leslie's long list of reasons she might have accidentally misfired her gun.
4. Season 3, "Fancy Party"
The misleadingly named "Fancy Party" is actually the episode where April and Andy get married. They invite everyone to a fancy party at their house, where it's revealed that the couple, who have only been dating a few months, are getting married. Andy wears a Colts jersey and has to ask April's middle name, and Leslie and Ben continue their journey towards becoming a couple. Plus, April's creepy friend Orin is at the party, and Chris Traeger's decision to bring a healthy veggie loaf instead of cake nearly drives Ron into a murderous rage.
5. Season 3, "The Fight"
Tom Haverford has get rich quick schemes throughout the run of the show, but it's his Snakejuice, sold through the town's hippest bar, the Snake Hole Lounge, that generates some of the funniest jokes of the series. The whole crew, including Ron, gets drunk on the stuff, which Donna, safely on a juice cleanse, calls "rat poison" due to its potency. The titular fight involves Leslie efforts to get best friend Ann a job at the parks department, and Ann's indifference to the whole plan. Never cross Leslie Knope.
6. Season 4, "The Comeback Kid"
Leslie's efforts to advance her career often have mixed results, and her efforts to become a city councilwoman don't totally work out as planned. But the ways in which they don't are pretty funny, as in this episode where April accidentally books a campaign event at a hockey rink, and the red carpet doesn't extend all the way to the podium, meaning the entire cast has to slip and slide their way over to it, as "Get On Your Feet" tauntingly plays.
7. Season 5, "Bailout"
Having Ron and Leslie tangle over their differing views about government while remaining friends may be one of the most optimistic things the show has ever done. In a country where differing political views increasingly seems to mean the two sides never coming together, it's refreshing to see Ron and Leslie spar and then make up. This particular time, it's over the subject of a government bailout Leslie wants for the local video store, but the ongoing subplot about Ann forcing April to be friends with her demonstrates the strength of the supporting cast on the show. That it all ends up with Ann, April and Donna singing "Time After Time" together is just an added benefit.
8. Season 6, "London Part One and Two"
Ron gets some prime moments in the season 6 opener, as he both marries Xena (Lucy Lawless, as Diane, the woman who steals Ron's heart from Tammy for good) and goes on their honeymoon alone. He's resistant at first, but then Leslie designs the perfect trip for him, sending him on a mystery quest to a whiskey distillery in Scotland, where she directs him to read some poetry out on a beautiful hillside. Ron gets choked up, as did every person watching.
9. Season 5, "Leslie and Ben"
A general rule about "Parks and Recreation" episodes is that the ones with two names in the title are pretty solid choices. This one about Leslie and Ben's wedding is no exception. From the moment that state bureaucrat showed up to clash with Leslie about her city's budget, we knew the two of them were meant to be. And the way her friends pull together to help her out after the villainous Councilman Jamm ruins her first choice wedding venue gives each of them a special moment, whether it's Ron crafting wedding rings from wall sconces, or Ann making a scrapbook wedding dress.
10. Season 7, "Leslie and Ron"
The last of the show's two name episodes resolved the mysterious Leslie and Ron fight that we learned had driven apart our heroes in 2017. Tired of their constant scrapping, their friends lock them in the parks department office to work out their differences. Ron, not surprisingly, doesn't want to talk over his feelings with Leslie, who resorts to primitive forms of water torture and invented lyrics to "We didn't start the fire" to make him talk. We're just glad they made up, but we hope Amy Poehler keeps gifting us with nonsense lyrics to Billy Joel songs for years to come.