By Joe Strange
Here’s the thing, tonight’s TV schedule feels ever so slightly empty now that Parks and Recreation is over for good. Last week’s season finale marked the end of an incredible show with a fantastic cast, and I couldn’t be happier that it’s finished.
I can hear you already: ‘Joe you bloody lunatic, Parks and Rec was an amazing show, how on earth could you possibly be happy it’s finished?’
Because, outspoken reader, it was an amazing show, and that’s exactly why I’m glad it’s over.
Parks and Recreation may not have started off strong, the first season back in 2009 had a lot of people calling it an ‘Office Rip-off’, and they were kind of right, it had that same awkward humour and the talking head cut aways, it even had an overly eager central character that was, sometimes, painful to watch. However, by the end of its 7 season run, Parks and Rec has become a show full of heart, brains and the courage to tackle relevant issues, basically it’s all the things those misfits from the Wizard of Oz were looking for except home- OH WAIT it’s about a home town that the main character loves.
I broke the code guys, Parks and Rec is the Wizard of Oz.
Anyway, despite the shaky start I challenge any of your to watch the first scene of season two and not smile a smile that is completely void of any awkwardness (for those without scene for scene memory, it’s the scene where Lesley raps to Ron about stealing a car and then, at the end of the impressively long rendition, Ron calmly informs her that someone is on fire in one of the parks, gold. Pure gold.
From that moment we knew that Parks and Recreation was not just some Office wannabe, it was becoming its own creature, and what a creature it turned into. Full of charming and lovable characters, running jokes that were never overdone or ever used as a crutch as well as writing that was funny, clever and always, in some way, relatable, Parks and Recreation became something much more than its first season. The story lines felt real and important because the characters were so developed and likable, even those that you felt like you should have disliked always found a way to win you over.
So why, if it’s such a good show, was I happy to see it go?
Well there you’re putting words into my mouth you little monkey, I actually said I was glad to see it finished. Because that’s exactly what happened.
There’s a habit of popular shows overstaying their welcome and, in doing so, they lose the appeal they once had. Scrubs, for instance, began to lose its magic some time after season 5, the story lines seemed forced, the characters were inconsistent and the heart of the show had seemingly disappeared.
Scrubs went on for 8 seasons the show many of us grew to love (even if it didn’t end that way) and actually had a pretty touching finale despite of a lacklustre last few seasons. In all, people were happy that it ended in a way that wasn’t terrible. Then it changed completely in season 9, when the cast was (almost) overhauled and the setting was changed, it just wasn’t the same. It was the result of a studio deal to keep a popular show running, and this season is often ignored when people talk about the show, with many fans sticking to early seasons (the earlier the better with many).
But Scrubs isn’t the only sit-com to be dragged out; How I Met Your Mother featured a group of friends in Manhatten all working their way through life, love and work. (Yes I realise that’s also the synopsis for Friends, but this is different, because Friends ended really well). It started off as a show that was good fun, had a nice variety of characters and was more than a little self aware, but by the end of its 9 seasons and despite its very solid ratings, many of the fans that I knew had become disenchanted with the series, blaming inconsistent characters, circular plots and a final season that went nowhere and had a terrible ending.
Really, it’s not the shows that suffer from this, How I Met Your Mother enjoyed high ratings until their final days, much higher than that of Parks and Recreation, in fact, How I Met Your Mother‘s finale season had twice the number of weekly viewers than Parks and Rec‘s best season, but the characters and the viewers, both of the shows that I mentioned had the complaint of inconsistencies in character, which is often a result of plot threads and story lines that don’t quite gel with the show’s characters, or writing for convenience, which in turn soils the memories of the viewers.
This does eventually go away, though only through excessive consumption of the good seasons.
Parks and Recreation finished at a definite end point, there was very little drawing out of characters or of plot lines. The show could have finished at the end of season 6 (something that was rumoured to happen) as the finale to the penultimate season was a fantastic culmination of everything that made the show great (loveable relationships, in jokes, that fantastic tiny horse song), and I don’t think too many people would have caused riots, but with the shorter, more experimental season 7, which was set in the far distant future of 2017, the show could give a final farewell tour for Pawnee and its occupants.
Which it totally did, the final season is an emotional ride of farewells, laughs, and really satisfying endings. The show ended on an amazing high; it was fun, full of heart and so very easy to watch and even easier to fall in love with.
The best thing though? No half assed spin off or ‘med-school’ season can ever spoil the feeling you’ll get when someone hums that theme tune or that tiny horse song.
That is, unless Jerry does something wrong, which let’s face it, he probably will do. Dammit Jerry.