Parks and Recreation – gone, but not forgotten…
“Don’t get emotional…you’re embarrassing yourself.” – Ron Swanson.
*Parks and Recreation spoilers incoming!*
From its humble beginnings in the shadow of its older brother The Office, to arguably being one of the finest comedy shows in history, Parks and Recreation was one heck of a ride. Not that it was always smooth sailing for Parks, with the first season struggling to find the show’s voice, and lead character Leslie accused of being Michael Scott light. But for me, that all changed in the season one finale “Rock Show”, with a more assured, determined, strong willed Leslie coming to the fore, and from there on in Parks and Rec never looked back. Like a fine wine, it grew and improved through its years, before finally arriving at its bittersweet closing chapter with “One Last Ride”, after 7 seasons and 125 episodes.
And what a magnificent finale the show’s co-creator Michael Schur pulled off. Crucially, the finale draws upon the show’s greatest strength, its characters, and in doing so the perfect final episode is created. After season seven’s jump forward in time to 2017, we are taken even further down the line through each key character’s futures, leading to some truly touching (and hilarious) moments. The characters have all grown and developed significantly over the course of seven years, and without a doubt it is one of the most likeable ensembles ever put together. It’s a happy ending, but one which is poignant, and despite Ron’s desire to avoid emotions….it’s pretty darned touching. Particularly in the case of Ron himself, who gets to spend his days roaming the Pawnee National Park as superintendent.
The biggest emotional punches are reserved for Leslie and Ron, who have been the lifeblood of the show for years. Their pairing has always been a personal favourite – never romantic, mostly uncomplicated, always hilarious – and their final moment in the show’s “present day”, sat side by side on swings is simply perfect. The early part of the season saw these two at loggerheads, but thankfully its latter half saw them reconciled, and at their best.
There’s almost too much goodness from the finale to list – but I shall certainly try. Here are some of the tidbits of awesomeness from the final episode:
– Donna has been adventuring! She’s single handedly started a door knockers earring trend. She came 9th in Italy’s got talent. And of course, she served in a Nascar pit crew.
– Andy is going to miss the food in Pawnee – Taco Bell, KFC, Pizza Hut.
– Ron is Typhoon’s best man at Typhoon and Craig’s wedding.
– Ben’s new boardgame sequel, called “punishingly intricate” by Gameplay Magazine.
– Andy and April’s newborn child named Burt Snakehole Ludgate Karate Dracula Macklin Demon Jack Lantern Dwyer – or Jack for short. I like it!
– Ben or Leslie is President!? ( Obviously Leslie)!
But alas, all good things must come to an end, and so we say farewell to Parks and Recreation. Donna, Chris, Ann, Tom, April, Ben,
Jerry, Larry, Terry, Barry, Garry – it’s been a pleasure. Andy, Ron and Leslie – what a treat it has been. Also, can we all just agree that Bill Murray’s cameo in the penultimate episode of Parks and Recreation is the best thing that’s ever happened….ever? As well as The Johnny Karate Super Awesome Musical Explosion Show, of course.
For the cast, Chris Pratt is on the way to superstardom, Nick Offerman continues to be the king of all that is awesome, and Amy Poehler will continue to light up our screens, both big and small. For the fans, we have a legacy of 125 outstanding episodes to enjoy. If you’re feeling sad to see Parks and Rec bow out, just remember Ron’s advice – crying is only acceptable at funerals, and the Grand Canyon, so no tears please.