TV Review: Parks and Recreation

TV Review: Parks and Recreation

A hidden gem worth the watch

By Mark HadleyMonday 11 Nov 2013TV and StreamingReading Time: 3 minutes

Every now and then someone flicks me a message to say thanks for introducing them to a program they would probably have never found on their own. Parks And Recreation is one of those hidden gems. Buried away on SBS2, it would be hard to find a program as amusing as it is hopeful.

Mark Hadley reviews 'Parks and Recreation'. 
Parks and Recreation is actually in its sixth season in the United States, though viewers will find the third season currently airing on SBS. All the better for those who get hooked on the storyline. The show centres on the efforts of the local government employees working for the fictional town of Pawnee, Indiana. Early on we’re introduced to Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler), the deputy-director of the Parks Department whose visionary outlook delivers most of the show’s laughs. Each week she shows Douglas-MacArthur-like determination to deliver the most basic services, or triumph over the smallest setbacks. 

Parks and Recreation was initially conceived to be a direct spin-off of the American version of The Office. Producers eventually dumped the connection but retained the mockumentary format. However where The Office majors on delivering awkward moments, Parks and Recreation concentrates on the cute. The entire two first seasons centre on Leslie’s over-earnest on-camera efforts to fill in an unsightly pit and deliver a much-needed park. Though she occupies a relatively minor position in the scheme of things, Leslie has a vision of herself that ranks amongst America’s greatest female leaders:

“I would like to be president someday, so no, I’ve not smoked marijuana. I ate a brownie once at a party in college. It was intense. It was kind of indescribable, actually. I felt like I was floating. Turns out there wasn’t any pot in the brownie. It was just an insanely good brownie.”

Leslie Knope’s efforts are equal parts ridiculous and endearing. It’s hard to form a negative opinion of someone who is so clearly dedicated to the well-being of others. This, incidentally, is also the Bible’s advice to the equally earnest, equally faulted Christian:

“When a man’s ways please the Lord, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.” 

This verse comes from the Bible store of Proverbs, so it’s not a promise so much as a principle. But it’s easy to see it working out both in Parks and Recreation as well as real life. Focusing on God rather than ourselves, seeking the gain of others and trusting ourselves to Him – this attitude is one that even someone who despises what a Christian stands for will find it hard to get angry about. It’s the same reason a friend once told me that she had little time for Christianity themselves, but she was certainly glad Christians were around. We may not always get it right; in fact, we stand a good chance of making lots of mistakes even with the best intentions. But the more we seek to put others first, the more opportunity we have to share who it is who empowers our service – and that conversation will be no laughing matter. 

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Rating: M
Distributor: SBS2
Release Date: Tuesdays, 7:05 PM