Parks and Recreation is a comedy that raises the title of ‘Least Likely To Succeed’ to the level of ‘Most Likely To Please’.
For those of you late to the party, Parks and Recreation is a sit-com based on the employees of the Parks Department in the Indiana town of Pawnee. Like most examples of this genre the comedy is based around more of the character’s failures than their successes, but that hasn’t stopped it from becoming one of the planet’s cult classics. Season Five will be concluding this week after following major character Leslie Nope in her first year as a city councilwoman. Highlights also included the not-so-much wedding of the century for Leslie and her long-time love interest and accountant Ben, and the news that inveterate loner Ron Swanson is going to be a father. Without spoiling Season Six, let me just say we’re looking forward to a baby, an impeachment, a trip to London and another baby … at least.
With NBC announcing that it will bankroll a seventh and final season for Pawnee’s inept city employees, it’s worth asking what’s so lovable about these perpetual failures? Leslie Nope is aptly named for a small-town politician consumed with visions of grandeur but unable to carry them out. When she faces a political lobby aiming to end her career in Season Five it’s not surprising she comes up with the slogan:
“Yes we can’t not. Nope.”
But Leslie’s very attraction lies in her hapless determination. We may spend most of our time laughing at her but the series never descends to ridicule. In fact, failures aside, we value Leslie because she tries so hard. I think her character – along with crazed entrepreneur Tommy Haverford, anti-government parks manager Ron Swanson and the ever-hopeful Andy Dwyer – inspires us to believe that life does award points for trying. The universe has a seemingly capricious way of rewarding those who might otherwise slide to the bottom of the pile because of the strength of their convictions.
Personally, I’m hooked on Parks and Recreation at least in part because Leslie’s exuberance defies the gravity of rational life. She’s up even though the whole office might be down, and that reminds me very much of my Christian reality. Anyone who reads the Bible long enough will realise that it promises no real success in this world, yet still guarantees to see us through. Faith in God keeping this promise is what preserves our peace in the face of mounting opposition. The only difference between Parks and Recreation and real life is that, when we see our fortunes ‘defying gravity’ we don’t ascribe it to that capricious universe. We look to the hand that steers all history, regardless of how much the world might laugh.
Distributor: DVD/Seven Network
Release Date: Mondays & Thursdays 11:30 PM