When I watched the pilot of Parks and Recreation there was no spark, no bells ringing in my head, absolutely no fireworks in the distant sky — unlike when I watched 30 Rock, which is now my gospel in times of distress. In short, I closed the episode midway and returned to my book. A year later, I cannot wait to watch the final episode (One Last Ride) and root (yet again) for Leslie Knope, who will work wonders at the Department of the Interior, and her husband, Ben Wyatt, who is running for Congress.
When I say a year later, I mean I started watching Parks and Recreation in 2013 — it went on air four years earlier in 2009 — and I was terribly late to the party. But I wasn’t too late to enjoy the ride. The pilot showed an ordinary-looking, blonde and overly enthusiastic government employee, Leslie Knope, played by the lovably funny Amy Poehler. Her bumbling attempts to tackle problems at the local parks in Pawnee (where she works and has lived all her life) somehow work out despite the blatant indifference shown by her libertarian and phlegmatic boss Ron Swanson and her other colleagues.
Don’t get me wrong: Leslie isn’t the ideal female television protagonist like Scandal’s Kerry Washington with her immaculate wardrobe. She is, instead, a pant-suit wearing, government-loving, highly competitive female warrior whose life in a small town is as quirky as it can get: from breaking into the “boys club” at work, accidentally marrying off two homosexual penguins, commemorating Galentine’s Day, saving her town from bankruptcy, having an affair with her colleague, later marrying him and having triplets, running for city council and then getting booted out... Sometimes, it projects a too-perfect image. Ideally, a television show should mimic reality, but as we’ve seen in the case of Friends (six friends who make living in Manhattan seem easy) or Seinfeld (Kramer lives off Jerry, George dates more women than he can actually handle), there are exceptions sometimes.
As Emily Nussbaum of The New Yorker, one of my favourite TV critics, writes, “ Parks is not an overtly ideological show, but buried within it are thoughtful, complex political themes that extend into the larger world in a way that’s rare for modern network shows...” It’s true. The word government, especially here, conjures up images of a sleepy office with rickety wooden chairs supporting uninspiring officials and brown desks that carry the burden of hundreds of files. Leslie Knope, however, makes it look like a ride in an amusement park. Even something as fundamental as love isn’t idealised as it often is in The Office with Jim and Pam, the couple everyone aspires to be.
In many ways, Parks tried to be The Office when it first started out, but found its own sweet rhythm when it stopped imitating the latter. Super feminist Leslie finds a perfect match in the progressive and ultimate nerd Ben Wyatt whose love for Leslie is only matched by a love for Game of Thrones and calzones. They aren’t two perfect people who come together, but they become a perfect couple by accepting their imperfections and recognise what they’re about. Same goes with the series’ other couple, the goofy Andy Dwyer and his lovable bully wife April Ludgate.
It’s hard to say goodbye to a show that has always stood for change for the better — career moves, the departure of best friends (“Oh, Ann. You beautiful, naïve, sophisticated newborn baby”), the introduction of brilliant characters (the ever-positive Chris Traeger played by Rob Lowe, Bobby Newport by Paul Rudd), political cameos by Michelle Obama and Joe Biden, the gutsy move to jump ahead by three years, thereby allowing the writers to give us a promising finale — all the while reminding us that some things will always be permanent, like Leslie’s everlasting love for waffles, Little Sebastian and politics. Nevertheless, as the show reaches its bittersweet end, here’s hoping that it will indeed leave new-found fans like me wanting more.
Source : http://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/radio-and-tv/one-last-ride/article6920057.ece#!