Small towns are the perfect setting for a hysterically funny sitcom. Because who better to laugh at than weird and wonderful locals, who love nothing more than stirring the community pot and making mountains out of molehills?
In Parks and Recreation, said locals include: a meat loving, government hating capitalist, an apathetic, emotionless teen, a perennially positive aspiring politician, and the village icon, a celebrity miniature horse (fans of this show will now be singing season three’s anthem, ‘5,000 Candles in the Wind’). These are a few of the folks that make up this brilliantly dry sitcom about the parks and recreation department in a small Indiana town called Pawnee. The show focuses largely on the hard-working, politically motivated Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler), who has pictures of her political icons on her desk – Nancy Pelosi, Condoleezza Rice, and herself – and believes that parks are the key for a brighter future. Backed up by her gun-toting, work-hating boss Ron Swanson (Nick Offerman), and a team of misfit civil servants, they work together to improve Pawnee’s outdoor spaces, before eventually backing Leslie’s campaign to be elected into local government.
Filmed in a mockumentary style reminiscent of The Office, this series is knee-slappingly funny, and is one of those shows you can rewatch countless times and still get a giggle out of. We reckon that’s because the characterisation is so brilliant – we admit in the first episode or two, you might think these townsfolk are a bit too out there, but trust us, once you get to know them you’ll be in stitches. That’s thanks to the fine writing by Greg Daniels and Michael Schur, who gathered a cracking cast to fill the roles – whilst they were relatively unknown at the time, this lot have now made it in the fame game, and this show arguably helped them along their way. You’ve got Chris Pratt before he got all buff for Jurassic World, Aubrey Plaza as the hilariously emotionless April, Aziz Anzari as sleazeball Tom, Adam Scott as Leslie’s love interest, and Rob Lowe as the health obsessed Chris.
Together, they’re a proper hoot, with gags flying about left, right and centre. Unfortunately, they did drag this series out slightly longer than they should have, and the last season or two were a bit of a flop. But fans of this show have forgiven it, and we have too. There are few shows as warming and funny as this, each episode providing a comforting 20 minutes, perfect after a long day.
The Guardian’s Sarah Dempster says: “This is comedy at its sweetest and least snarkful. There is no cruelty, or tub-thumping satire, or any of the “tragedy of the everyday” social commentary arsery… Instead there is a non-patronising depiction of community life: it’s just there, as rich and intractable as Ron Swanson’s moustache.” These things, The Times’s Andrew Billen agreed, makes this “one of America’s finest comedies.”
First shown March 2013. You can watch the trailer by pressing play on the show image, or by clicking here.