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Treat yourself to “Parks and Rec”

By Alison Thvedt

Section: Arts

August 23, 2013

I’m not the type of person to follow multiple shows, or even one show, when they’re actually being televised, but I do like to have a show on Netflix or iTunes that I can watch in my down time. I went around asking those I trust for advice, and a friend of mine recommended NBC’s “Parks and Recreation.”

The show was so good, I decided to follow the advice of two characters, Tom Haverford (Aziz Ansari) and Donna Meagle (Retta): “Treat yo self.” I treated myself and watched all five seasons a second time—and this time, I got my family to follow along with me.

Not only has the mockumentary-style series itself been nominated for an Emmy in Outstanding Comedy Series, but starring actress Amy Poehler has also received two Emmy nominations for her individual involvement. She was first nominated for writing an episode of the show, and has most recently been nominated in July for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series.

Poehler’s character, Leslie Knope, is a driven, quirky, loving and passionate government employee dedicated to the task of improving the series’ fictional and all-American city, Pawnee, Ind. Working first as deputy director for the city’s Parks and Recreation department, and later as a female city counselor, Knope faces many challenges. Whether dealing with a small budget, with a boss who believes the government shouldn’t exist, accidentally marrying two male penguins in a publicity stunt at the zoo, or debating with her sexist male colleagues in the city council, Knope handles every situation with aplomb and an almost annoyingly optimistic attitude.

Knope’s boss, the self-identifying masculine Ron Swanson (Nick Offerman), lends humor to the show by playing a libertarian government employee who wants nothing but an ineffective department. After hiring his young intern, April Ludgate (Aubrey Plaza) as an assistant, the two work to ensure that the department spends the least amount of money on improvements, no one can make appointments to better the city, and as much work as possible is deferred to others. Important work, such as actually improving the city’s parks, is met with opposition.

Haverford brings life and excitement to the series with his self-described “entrepreneurial spirit.” Primarily pursuing pipe dreams, he works with his flamboyant and obnoxious friend, Jean-Ralphio, to invest in nightclubs.

Ann Perkins (Rashida Jones), a nurse, is Leslie Knope’s best friend and later gets involved in the city’s public health department. Donna Meagle adds sarcasm, confidence and sass to the Parks and Recreation office, while Jerry Gergich is the department’s klutzy clown. Finally, Andy Dwyer (Chris Pratt), an idiotic but lion-hearted musician, shoe-shiner and assistant, Chris Traeger (Rob Lowe) and Ben Wyatt (Adam Scott) join the series as city managers. Traeger is overly-active, overly-healthy, overly-optimistic and overly-emotional, while Wyatt is a nervous nerd who later loosens up and marries Knope.

Creators Greg Daniels and Michael Schur made a fantastic show. The first season may not be up to par with the rest of the series, but it’s only six episodes long and critics now agree that the show is hilarious. The Emmy-nominated show was deemed the number one television series in Time Magazine’s 2012 year end issue. The writing is outstanding, and each actor delivers his or her lines with impeccable comedic timing. Looking for a new show to watch? Treat yo self to some “Parks and Rec.”

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