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The student news site of Colonia High School

The Declaration

The student news site of Colonia High School

The Declaration

Treat “yo self” to an episode of Parks and Recreation

In its sixth season on NBC, Parks and Recreation is still a strong contender in the comedy ring. The show is a classic, and has had one of the best comebacks for a sitcom of all time. Parks and Rec is sitting on top of the comedy throne.

Set in the fictional town of Pawnee, Indiana, Parks and Rec centers on Leslie Knope, the deputy director of the Pawnee Parks and Recreation Department, and her colleagues. Knope is played by the talented and versatile Amy Poehler; no other actress out there who could play this role better. Poehler brings Knope to life, and clearly encompasses the zaniness and heartfelt character that makes Leslie Knope the most lovable politician on TV. In the fourth season Leslie Knope ran for city council, and won. Since then, the show provides viewers with Knope’s struggle to balance the Parks Department and her city council duties. Knope is a dreamer, and that’s a quality that she doesn’t forget. Without a vision for a better tomorrow, Leslie Knope wouldn’t be as interesting. Knope is a star in the comedy world. She is a politician that is so into her job that it produces a comedy full of love.

The breakout star of the show is Ron Swanson, played by the hysterical Nick Offerman. Ron is a libertarian, and finds no need for the government, including his very own job. That’s part of why he’s so funny. He plays the director of the Parks and Recreation Department, and absolutely hates what he works on. He is an extremely secretive man and has stated various times throughout the series that he has gold stashed away somewhere only he knows. Swanson is also a meat fanatic. Swanson has said before, “If it doesn’t have meat…it’s a snack.” Just this season, Ron Swanson got married for the third time to a woman named Dianne, who is pregnant with his first child, different from his past two wives whom were both named Tammy. Ron is a stern fatherly figure, but the viewer can easily see that he has his heart open. His sweet moments are a beautiful spectacle, since Ron is a tough man who doesn’t play by the government’s rules.

Leslie Knope’s best friend is Ann Perkins. The “beautiful, tropical fish,” at least that’s how Leslie describes her, is played by Rashida Jones. They meet in the first episode and have become best friends. Ann is a nurse and now works as the public relations director at the Health Department. Unfortunately, Jones is leaving halfway through this season.

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Jones isn’t alone when it comes to leaving the show during the sixth season. Rob Lowe, who plays fitness-loving city manager Chris Traeger, is also leaving halfway through the season. Traeger and Perkins have dated during season three, and are now dating again, since Traeger decided to be the donor for the baby Perkins wanted. They plan to move to a nearby city to raise their child. Jones and Lowe have great parts, since they are an on-again off-again couple. They get great lines, seeing how they play along with the politics and dilemmas that the show creates. It is a shame they have to go. There will be a hole in the heart of the show.

Other significant characters are April Ludgate (played by Aubrey Plaza), the uninterested assistant to Ron Swanson, Andy Dwyer (played by Chris Pratt), the husband to April who has done several jobs for the city, Tom Haverford (played by Aziz Ansari), a sarcastic entrepreneurial government official in Pawnee, and Ben Wyatt (played by Adam Scott) the husband of Leslie Knope and her campaign manager when she ran for city council. Each of the characters are special to the show and plot, like one being a goofball and one being a nerd, and create a well-rounded community of workers that make comedy seem like a breeze.

These characters are unique in their crazy, loving way. They love each other, even though they may act like they dislike on another. It is explicitly visible how much they care for each other, which adds to the sweetness that the show harbors. Instead of focusing on what characters hate, the show goes in the reverse direction by highlighting what the characters love. Instead of detailing the movie the characters hate, the show usually concentrates on a restaurant or person the characters like. That’s a different kind of humor that typically doesn’t work, but Parks and Rec pulls it off flawlessly. The cast becomes so involved in what they do and like that the comedy is second nature.

Only one flaw can be seen in the show, and that is a problem the show is now trying to correct. Two characters have not been utilized enough even though they have played big roles. Donna Meagle, played by Retta, is a fun-loving employee of the Parks Department, along with the klutz Jerry (or Larry as he is now called; his real name is actually Garry) Gergich, played by Jim O’Heir. Donna Meagle has spent most of her time in the show with Tom Haverford, most famously with their annual Treat Yo Self Day, where they go to the mall and buy expensive and maybe unnecessary items they usually wouldn’t buy. Jerry Gergich is always the butt of the joke and is picked on for his mistakes. Both are hysterical, but have not been used enough. They have great lines in the show, but are always seen as tertiary characters compared to Knope and Perkins. Luckily, the show’s creators have decided to incorporate them more for season six since Jones and Lowe are departing the show.

It’s great to see that the series has been recognized for how hysterical it is. It has been nominated for the Outstanding Comedy Series Primetime Emmy in 2011. Amy Poehler has been nominated for the Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series Primetime Emmy for four straight years, but has yet to win. She has also been nominated at the Golden Globe Awards twice, but it also lost every time as well.

Complex Magazine said Parks and Recreation is the seventh best show of 2012, stating, “What’s the funniest sitcom on TV? It’s not even a competition, folks.” Also in 2012, TIME Magazine ranked the season four episode “The Comeback Kid” as the ninth best TV episode of the year. Also in 2012, TIME Magazine ranked Parks and Recreation as the best show of the year, beating out the likes of Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones, and Homeland, all of which were in the top 10.

The first season of the show faced a slew of problems, mainly because there was too much comparison to The Office, because the creators of the show were the creators of Parks and Rec. Since the creators of The Office developed Parks and Recreation, the show was thought of as an identical copy of The Office. The comedy did not hit a high note, too, and the characters needed to develop, since the show didn’t quite divulge why each character is so necessary. However, the second season brought the laughter, and separated itself from The Office and proved it is worthy of future seasons. It strayed from its Office roots and become its own independent show that consists of various characters that differ from those of The Office, making it a standalone show.

The cast is absolutely great. The comedy may be silly at times, but it is silly in a good way, where it tries to be different from other comedy shows. The silliness is part of the whole spectacle that is the Parks and Recreation Department. The humor is natural, and when watched, one would see that it is one of those shows that are just funny from the start.  Its humor is not just in the words, it’s how it’s presented. The show takes the writing and makes it their own. That combination will keep the show alive, even if it doesn’t have the most viewers (the show is currently competing in the same timeslot as The Big Bang Theory at 8 pm on Thursdays). While Parks and Recreation manages to receive around 3 million viewers each week, The Big Bang Theory has reached 20 million viewers.

No matter the amount of viewers it receives, Parks and Recreation will be one of the best comedies that has aired on television. The characters come together to form a show that brings the laughs while also having a big heart. Each person on the show is different from each other, and the show embraces their differences and has them mesh together. Then, the comedy ensues.

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About the Contributor
Andy Kuchen
Andy Kuchen, Media Manager & Reporter
Andy Kuchen, a published poet and senior at ColoniaHigh School, has been a writer for The Declaration for over a year and a half. His articles are mainly reviews of television series as well as films. Besides journalism, he is involved in filmmaking and the Interact Club at CHS. Kuchen is a hardworking and creative person. He can typically be spotted with an iPhone in one hand and a cup of coffee in the other.

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    Rona KahnDec 2, 2013 at 12:55 pm

    This was such a well written article I will have no choice but to tune in and check it out!

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Treat “yo self” to an episode of Parks and Recreation