Last night’s Parks and Recreation was a farewell episode for Ann and Chris, and in turn Rashida Jones and Rob Lowe. Their departure was announced last summer, so we’ve had months to prepare for their goodbye. Maybe that’s why it wasn’t a particularly emotional episode for me. No tears were shed, which is unusual since I cry at everything even remotely emotional, especially TV farewells. But I simply didn’t feel that sad.
So as a result I started to feel sad about how not sad I was. As I’ve learned from Tumblr this morning, there were a lot of people who were affected by the finale, and that’s great. But I was pretty underwhelmed, and I’d like to examine a few reasons for that. It’s partly to prompt discussion and partly so I can understand the situation myself. WHERE WERE MY TEARS?
The first and simplest reason the episode didn’t give me all the feels was that Ann and Chris are simply not a vital part of the show to me. I don’t think they’re a detriment, and they’ve certainly had memorable and funny moments, but for me they’re the blandest characters Pawnee has to offer. So it was an appropriately bland goodbye. I never wanted them to leave, but I also didn’t feel too strongly about them staying.
Another problem that probably contributed to my lack of emotion is that I’ve started to suffer from farewell fatigue. It feels like everyone is leaving their shows these days, which means every show has a goodbye episode. Just last week Troy (Donald Glover) left Community, and now a week later Parks and Rec is saying goodbye. It’s just a lot of forced emotion in a short period of time. Combine that with the recent Downton Abbey departures and the prospect of Laura Prepon leaving Orange is the New Black, and I’ve started to think like Ron Swanson:
But I like to think my farewell fatigue and indifference to the departing characters wouldn’t have mattered if the episode had been good enough. Unfortunately it didn’t work for me. It felt a bit rushed and forcibly sentimental, and nothing really happened to make this episode stand out among the many farewells we’ve seen on sitcoms in recent years. The plot involving the guys trying to find the perfect goodbye gift for Chris after seeing the heartfelt things he gave them felt a bit clichéd.
Leslie and Ann’s plot, in which they have to go through a chain of favors before finally breaking ground on the lot behind Ann’s house, was just like the premise of the Community episode that preceded it. Community did it better. On Parks and Rec it was wrapped up in a few minutes. It felt like the show was trying to do too many things at once. Maybe an hour-long or two-part episode would have worked better for pacing.
This season’s been full of hits and misses for me, and I’ll just file this one under the “miss” category. But I haven’t given up hope. It’s still one of my favorite shows, and I’ll still stick with it. And who knows, maybe Chris and Ann’s departure will work in the show’s favor. I just wasn’t thrilled with the departure itself.