falulatonks: ([parks] leslie hunting)
[personal profile] falulatonks
in the most important government in the best city in the world."
"Suck it, Paris, France!"


So what happened was that the day before yesterday I decided people were talking about Parks and Recreation, but not about the specific parts of it that I adore it for, so I made it a list and posted it on Tumblr. Not only was it a hit, but I've already seen people pointing at it to get others to give it a try, which is wonderful. And I'm going to repost here now, so non-Tumblr users see it, too.

Top Five Reasons You Should be Watching
Parks and Recreation


5. PAWNEE


It's actually a little difficult to believe this show takes place in a fictional city, because the details of it are glorious. I love its landmarks and its bigger, more notable details - the burning of a bread factory, killing Indians, having murals called "A Lively Fisting" having a big company that everyone knows (Sweetums), being one of the most obese cities in America.

And it's not just that the history of it is elaborate, it's that the show has actually created a culture which everyone there knows fully. Characters do (fantastically spot-on) impressions of the morning talk show host and of the sleazy councilman, and everyone else gets it. Sweetums is a town feature. There's even a weatherman who drops by twice or thrice over the course of the season (and he's clearly the weatherman of Pawnee). The entire cold open of Christmas Scandal is a big in-joke where they sit around laughing at the government or crazy dogs.

It's also this show's world - a little wacky but convincingly realistic and internally consistent. Andy dropping by at random events to help out because he needs the money, for example; Leslie hitting a road block publicly and needing to go on that one talk show to clear things up. A cruel, evil library department. It’s these unique but oddly recognisable details that make the show look like it exists - these characters have lived before the show started, and will continue to live between episodes, behind the camera, after the show ends.


4. PROGRESS


Consistent development! Here are some things that changed by the end of the second series: the pit is now a lot. April has a permanent job in the Parks department. Andy has a steady job. Tom is divorced. Ron has gone from merely tolerating Leslie to recognising her as essential, a stand-up guy. Leslie has actual plans for her park.

Plot progress has, I feel, become less important to most comedies, and I understand where that need for fixed premise and situations comes from and how difficult it is to keep things moving - but I love that even when this show isn’t referring explicitly to things that need to be done or development that has to be covered, things are happening. Episodes aren’t dedicated fully to push something forward - there are completely realistic interactions between the characters and the way things unfold, and things matter.

I like being able to step into the middle of a show and enjoying it completely, and I think Parks and Recreation allows for that, but it’s especially rewarding to know that you will end up in places different from where you started. I love that it’s fine to get invested in these characters, their lives and their goals and their relationships, because things are absolutely going to pay off. It’s gratifying.


3. WOMEN


I think you’d be hard-pressed to find a show that writes or treats its female characters better than Parks & Recreation, and (just as importantly) with as little agenda. Leslie Knope is the best example of it - here’s a smart, capable, confident female character, who’s good at her job and passionate about it, who can say she’s good at hunting or surfing and actually be good at them. She is silly but strong, extremely idealistic but smart, enthusiastic but serious about it. She has female friends she adores (including her mother), which she shows unreservedly. She has a love life - with great boyfriends who clearly genuinely like her - but when she realises something isn’t going anywhere she can pull back and stop it, and she doesn’t mope or mourn its loss unnecessarily, because things keep happening to her, and she is defined by what she is and what she makes of herself - not who she’s with.

Here’s where the treatment of her character comes in - these are qualities she is loved for. Her feminism and crazy passion aren’t the butts of a joke. They aren’t things that she’s loved in spite of. A gruff, largely imperturbable character, the Man’s Man, is openly appreciative of her and loyal to her. Even when she’s making mistakes, she pushes forward, and the show lets her do it.

And look at the other women on this show! Ann, who is pretty and smart, but awkward and kind of stoic. April, who is quietly, confidently sarcastic, but sweet, and open to feeling things, and doesn’t mind telling an old married couple that she’s happy they’re in love, even if it isn’t cool. Interactions with them are not based on how they are girls, but how they are people. No mention of feminine wiles. No period jokes. No insults based on how girly they are. It’s so rare in comedies, and it’s incredibly refreshing.

How much I adore the ways these women interact with one another is only going to make this longer (“Ladies celebrating ladies!” Leslie Knope, I want to be your best friend.), so I’ll just quickly mention that the Leslie-Ann friendship is probably my favourite one on TV - they’re supportive of each other, sweet, caring.

The best part of this is that none of this is ever a Moral. Loving these characters and letting them be is not something the writers beat us on the head with - it comes to the show (and by extension, all the characters) easily, like it’s only natural that they feel that way, and you feel it, too.


2. THE PEOPLE


I can’t remember the last time I’ve adored an entire ensemble like this. All the characters have flaws, but every one of them is charming in their own way, and spending time with any of them is delightful. The cast is spectacular and that’s probably a huge part of giving each character a distinct personality, but it’s more than that - the writing backs that up with such rich history that there’s so much to explore for each of them. You can put one of them with any other character or in any other situation and it’s guaranteed that you’ll get something from it - something about their past, or something else about themselves - and it fits in with what we know of them beautifully. It makes them both interesting and ridiculously likable.

And these people are good people - both good, as in strong and well-intentioned, and people, as in human - vulnerable, well-drawn. Of course there are individual aspects of these characters that are silly or cartoonish, but somehow they come together to form people that you love and believe. Tom, for example, is ridiculous - kind of sleazy, loud, but he’s also a little sweet and earnest. Ron is every kind of extreme, yet you want to go hunting with him and get on his good side. As a result, when characters sit down and get serious with one another, it doesn’t feel out of place, because I know that people act like that, and these people will act like that.

I love that humour is never used as an excuse to force characters into acting differently or for them to act stupid - there’s a kind of maturity to these relationships, despite the silliness; an intelligence there formed by what they are and what they’re being influenced by. I like that each character knows and gets a different side of whatever character they’re interacting with, because that’s how people are. It's funny without losing its sense of character or intelligence, and I love it. I feel like the writers are acknowledging that viewers are smart enough to get it. to get people.


1. THE JOY!


This show makes me so happy! It goes beyond appreciating its quality, acknowledging what it does well - this show is genuinely wonderful. It’s ironic that a workplace comedy about the government is one of the most positive shows on TV right now - the humour is warm, and hardly ever mean-spirited. Characters enjoy the company of people they work with, they like them. Where things can backfire and go terribly, the show chooses to go lighter - e.g. the skit by the Parks department in Christmas Scandal being a huge hit, when it could’ve gone horribly wrong instead. Such a big part of this show is its heart - emotional pay-offs, characters becoming closer. These people know joy, they know love. Bitter, evil people are the ones we laugh at!

When I’m not laughing, I’m beaming or even tearing up a little bit - Parks & Recreation is a comedy, but it’s unabashedly positive and sweet and goofy, and bravely so. I don’t think there’s anything that puts me in a better mood - definitely nothing I feel better about enjoying or loving.


P.S.: How is it that I built up this show to ridiculous amounts over the long break and had it hit every note in the premiere anyway? More feelings and a better post later, but for now - so glad this show is back.

Date: 2011-01-21 04:20 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] polka-dot-jewel.livejournal.com
I watched this show for the first time last night because of all the praise and excitement everyone was giving it, and I loved it from the first second. It was hilarious and amazing and I do love all the characters. I definitely need to watch the first two seasons :)

Date: 2011-01-21 04:26 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] shornt.livejournal.com
Ugh, you are perfect.

Date: 2011-01-21 08:02 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] elliotsmelliot.livejournal.com
I love this post. Do you mind if I post a link from my journal?

Date: 2011-01-21 08:37 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] smuchshypush.livejournal.com
Yes. YES. ALL OF THIS! Especially number three. I've been doing a mediocre job of explaining to people why this show is one of the most wonderful things on TV, but now I can just send them here because this is IT! For your efforts I am awarding you the Dorothy Everytime Smurf Girl Trophy for Excellence in Female Stuff. :D

Date: 2011-01-21 08:44 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lookatbanner.livejournal.com
So true about the female characters.
Lovely post! I'm so happy the show is back :)
(deleted comment)

Date: 2011-01-21 08:58 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] summerstorm.livejournal.com
I saw this post on my friendsfriends list and I feel obligated to tell you you made me start downloading S1.

Date: 2011-01-22 02:13 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] summerstorm.livejournal.com
I vaguely recall people saying it was getting really good halfway through S2, so I'll take that into account. Sitcoms are easy to watch anyway, so unless I really dislike it, I don't think I'll have any trouble sticking to it through the less good bits.

Date: 2011-01-21 09:35 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] vulcanicity.livejournal.com


Seriously, favourite show right now.

Date: 2011-01-21 10:32 pm (UTC)
damalur: (btvs/ats → illyria)
From: [personal profile] damalur
So much love for this post. ♥ I only recently discovered this show (thanks to Netflix) and blew through the first two seasons, and you've articulated exactly the reasons I find it so fantastic - especially the Ann-Leslie friendship. Definitely bookmarking for reference!
(deleted comment)

Date: 2011-01-22 12:51 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] eachtoeach.livejournal.com
OMG RACHNA. It's Caitlin (aka caitlineff from tumblr), btw.

I've already told you how incredibly beautiful and spot on this is, but I feel the need to express it again. THIS IS INCREDIBLY BEAUTIFUL AND SPOT ON. Last night was perfect and I couldn't have asked for more. I can't believe it's back!! Yay!

Date: 2011-01-22 03:48 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lanafromoz.livejournal.com
LOVE this.

Date: 2011-01-22 04:07 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] bluelight888.livejournal.com
This should be on the front page of NBC. Especially loved your #2 point.

Date: 2011-01-22 04:20 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] zombie_boogie.livejournal.com
I wanted you to know that I watched Parks and Rec last night due to your influence and your constant joy and love with regards to this show. Definitely going to marathon the rest of the series sometime soon so that I can follow along properly. LESLIE KNOPE YOU'RE MY LADY HERO.

Date: 2011-01-22 07:37 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] bennet-7.livejournal.com
I love your reasons, particularly number three. I'm going to find a way to honour Galantine's Day this year.

Date: 2011-01-23 11:40 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] joirerson.livejournal.com
Progress! Women! Progressive women!!

And I'm going to start saying I should get paid the same as Google's CEO. Cause, man. Yes!

Date: 2011-01-24 07:23 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lytab5.livejournal.com
Okay, you brought tears to my eyes.
I kinda love you! ♥
(Just WORD for this whole post!)

Date: 2011-01-27 08:50 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lytab5.livejournal.com
I do, too.
And it's totally normal and awesome. So there. Hehe.

Date: 2011-01-28 04:22 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lz1982.livejournal.com
Here from TWOP. I love this! I'm getting a little worried about Ben and Chris throwing off the great balance between the existing characters, but you really nailed what made Season 2 so great. Bookmarking this!

Date: 2011-02-02 09:46 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jessm.livejournal.com
How convenient — I just started watching this show thanks to someone who may or may not be you. ;) I love this picspam, plus it's filled me in on what I missed in season two, which I plan on watching all the way through sometime soon. In the meantime, I want to keep up with season three!

Date: 2011-02-08 07:49 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jessm.livejournal.com
I LOVE IT. I'm half-way through season two right now. I honestly can't pick a favorite character — Ron, Leslie, Tom, April, or Andy. I love Jerry and Donna, too. You're so, so spot-on with all five of your points. Right now, I think #4 is my favorite aspect of P&R. There's this brilliant continuity to the show, maybe like... Arrested Development, I guess? It's not serialized, but it's definitely not a Community or Scrubs, for example, both of which frequently backpedal(ed) on character and plot development.

This is a stretch and maybe I'm just caught up in my current love for the show, but P&R is by the same two guys that Americanized The Office, right? It seems as if everything on TO went horribly awry (well, I think it went horribly awry, LOL), so they decided to start fresh with P&R and make it as close to perfect as possible. Even when the episodes aren't non-stop hysterical, they're still charming and worth-watching (kind of like Modern Family). The characters are well-developed and lovable and, like you said, NOT humiliated for the sake of comedy. They even have Jerry, the go-to blame guy. The characters have MO's ("I'm Ron f&$*ing Swanson"), but they're not stuck doing the same shtick over and over again. And - AND! - there's no will-they-won't-they thing. Andy was jealous of Ann/Mark at the beginning of S2, but he still had other things to do as a character (SHOE-SHINING, OMG). Now there's April/Andy, but it's not in your face like Jim/Pam and innumerable TV couples.

I'm sorry that was so long! Yikes! I just had to share my joy with you.

Date: 2011-02-11 10:11 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] fairytiger.livejournal.com
YES. You said it all perfectly!

These people know joy, they know love. Bitter, evil people are the ones we laugh at!

I especially love this. When so many shows celebrate truly awful people, it's nice to be able to applaud good people doing good things.

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