Last night, fans of Parks And Recreation were handed a bittersweet victory. On the one hand, we got to see Leslie Knope achieve something she’d been working towards her whole entire life: a spot on the Pawnee city council. On the other, it seemed more than a little like the show was trying to set itself up to go out with Leslie in a good place, as news has just come out that it’s getting canceled after just one more short half-season. Which might be the dumbest thing a network has done since Fox canceled Arrested Development.
TV, on the whole, is horrible. (I know this because I watch a lot of it for my job.) The only three network shows I regularly watch are The Office, 30 Rock, and Parks and Recreation, because they’re the only three shows that regularly make me laugh out loud. (And when my roommate watches Parks And Rec, I can hear her guffawing from anywhere in the house.) I can see how The Office and 30 Rock might arguably have run their course, but Parks And Recreation is a show at the height of its powers, made by one of the most hilarious women currently working in entertainment.
Unlike most shows on TV in this good year 2012, Parks And Rec actually has a pretty diverse cast for a show set in a fictitious Indiana backwater, and also unlike most shows, they’re not facile stereotypes. Each character has a bizarre internal logic driving him or her, and there’s not a single weak one among them. (Even Ann is a little weird, in her own sweet and beautiful way. Case in point: her strange preference for Parks and Rec employees over hot doctors.) There’s April Ludgate, the deadpan hater with a heart of gold, the comically dopey Andy Dwyer, libertarian curmudgeon Ron Swanson, Donna Meagle, who enjoys the finer things in life (holy shit you guys, did you know it was possible for a large black woman on television to lead a happy, fun life?), the miserable-but-upbeat Chris Traeger, the hapless Jerry Gurgitch, the adorably nerdy Ben Wyatt, and Tom Haverford, whose relentless love of all things swaggy has provided some of the show’s most meme-able moments. (DJ Roomba! Tommy trees! Entertainment 720! Jean Ralphio!) These strong comedic characters have spawned a million inside jokes. Who could forget Ron Swanson’s Pyramid Of Greatness or Andy’s alter-ego Bert Macklin, F.B.I.? Macklin, you son of a bitch.
And then there’s Leslie Knope, as lovingly portrayed by show creator Amy Poehler. My, how she’s grown! The character who seemed at first like a cheap Michael Scott knock-off has grown to be a funny, feminist, well-rounded person capable of being the center of gags even as she kicks ass. Leslie is both competent and flawed, ambitious and adorable, and she’s able to win the begrudging respect of pretty much anyone. She doesn’t have a mean bone in her body, except maybe for Sweet Ums and the library, and they deserve it. It’s incredibly rare these days (or ever) that a network comedy can accurately be described as feminist; even Liz Lemon is a bit of a straw feminist whom Tina Fey uses to poke fun at herself. (She even spawned an article about the problems with “Liz Lemonism.”)
So let’s save this show, guys! In addition to making #SaveParksAndRec a trending topic on Twitter, you can write to NBC and tell them you love it and think they are fools for canceling it, and that you’re not going to watch NBC anymore if the only three shows you like are gone. I’m sorry, but there’s no way in hell anything Matt Perry does is going to be as human, progressive, and (most importantly) funny as Amy Poehler’s uniquely awesome creation.
Here, I’ll start it off:
UPDATE: NBC has ordered a full 22 episodes for next season! Hooray!