The Happiest Shows on Earth: ‘Parks and Recreation’ and optimism on TV via #EWCommunity

Parks and RecreationI wrote the following for the #EWCommunity, to share some shows that have made me smile even half as much as Parks and Rec did. There aren’t many, but click through for some shows that celebrate optimism, love, and friendship.

Parks and Recreation was lauded for its combination of comedy and earnest sweetness. The people of Pawnee, Indiana, are “first in friendship, fourth in obesity,” and they proved the former to us for seven seasons. The characters love each other, love the work they do (even as underappreciated public servants), and taught us to celebrate Galentine’s Day, waffles, and ourselves (Treat yo’ self!).

Very few shows allow themselves as much happiness as Parks and Recreation did. So many shows are gritty and dark, or concern us with which major character is being killed off this week. Nothing is wrong with that; I love a lot of shows that raise my blood pressure in a very real and probably unhealthy way. But sometimes you need to balance it out with shows that make you smile every single time you watch an episode. Parks and Recreation was one of those shows.

Now that it’s gone, I want to reflect on other shows that celebrated friendship, love, and optimism, and were unafraid to be bright spots in a cynical and dark world. There aren’t many, but here are a few shows that exemplified a few of the qualities that made us love Parks so much:

Click through to find out the shows: The Happiest Shows on Earth: ‘Parks and Recreation’ and optimism on TV | EW Community | EW.com.

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ConStar Watches Parks and Recreation “Gin It Up!”

“Your heart’s in the right place. Your heart and your butt.”

I’ve honestly forgotten why Leslie was being recalled in the first place. I know it’s Jamm’s fault but what was the “reason”? I know it doesn’t really matter, but I definitely forget what the exact catalyst was for his hate.

TATIANA MASLANY! Tom in her face was a GREAT moment. WHY did he switch into a British accent (besides the BBC America reference, I suppose). I can’t wait for more Nadia/Tom, because she thinks he’s really weird but then she says things like “Jet Blue Ivy” and we all (Tom included) discover there is something there that could draw them together. Hope she gets to stay for a while.

This was a great Ron story. It was nice seeing Ron and Ben interact; we know Ron loves Leslie, but it’s nice to see him extend that sentiment to Ben in his own way. Making Ben and Leslie the godparents to the kids is so wonderful (I wish I’d been able to see Leslie’s reaction to it), because you know they’d do their best to raise them the way Ron would have wanted. But Ron will only die by the man who understands the symbols on his first will. So he’s safe.

I’m happy we got a Donna-centric episode. I can’t remember every getting one, and if we did, it’s been a long, long time ago. This was the perfect plot for her. Retta played sheepish Donna really well (it was kind of adorable). I hope we get more Donna-centric episodes, because she’s the Parks Department member that gets the least amount of screen and story-time. Even Jerry gets more screen time than she does.

I need a Leslie Knope so someone can get me presents at every turn.

As usual, Parks episode posts are mostly quotes, because this show is just so funny.

“That folder in my hand is deadlier than his bow in yours.” “Oh thats… probably true.”

“What are these weird symbols?” “The man who kills me will know.”

“We’ll be all set, like two biscuits inside a tin.”

“Obviously accountants are a little more bad-boy.”

“I’m going to say this one last time Wyatt–check that accounting crap at the door.”

“Are you a doctor? Somehow?”

“I’m going to keep her here using the most powerful weapon I have–beaurocratic incompetence!”

“Another word for jokes is lies. I do not lie.”

“isn’t language fun? it’s like racquetball for your mouth!”

“Jet Blue Ivy”

“We need to talk.” “That has never been true.”

ConStar Watches Parks and Recreation “Doppelgangers”

I don’t have a lot to say except to quote some of tonight’s fabulous lines. But it was fun seeing Ben and Chris be good cop/bad cop. I’m sad for Leslie, but her acting out was great. Again, it’s interesting that the plot is being introduced so early, as I believe they’re leaving in episode 13 and we’re just in 4(?). But ample time for all the characters to say their goodbyes, which is nice and well deserved for Chris and Ann.

I loved the distraction waffles and distraction Joe Biden.

Donna is fabulous and I love that she got to mention Scandal referencing her real life love for the show (it’s even better that Scandal airs on Thursdays as well.)(aside: I can’t wait for Retta to watch the premiere! Her livetweets will be EPIC!)

Sugar mustard.

April was brilliant and hilarious as Tynnyfer’s counterpart. It was merely funny at first until you realized that April was a genius in bonding with the girl to get her to leave her position.

One thing I would’ve like to have seen was the Eagleton Parks Department interact with each other. I was going to say that I wanted to see them act like our Parks Department, but then I realized that of course they wouldn’t act like our department–our department is a family; the Eagletonians aren’t. But it still would have been nice to see if Craig went to alt!Ron for advice and what the answer might be. I also might have liked to see what an Eagleton Jerry might have looked like. I imagine they would have just been like a Pawneean (poor, unworthy, lol) and everyone thinks he’s awful because of it. Leslie would be a Jerry in Pawnee.

I had more to say than I thought, but quotes below!

Ron is basically a better version of George Washington.

OH MY GOODNESS IS THAT JOE BIDEN ON A HORSE SHIRTLESS??

Craze-mazing

Sorry for the delay ladies, I was busy being ambushed by treachery.

You’re developing an accent from that town you might move to!

You’re like skinny Mother Teresa.

Giving into hate is like drinking salt water. The thirst only gets worst.

“The meth-like high of solving accounting puzzles”

ConStar Watches Parks and Recreation “The Pawnee-Eagleton Tip off Classic”

“Knope out!”

Glad to see Kristen Bell on my TV! This Pawnee/Eagleton merger will bring more. She’s more the straight man, as her only humor is in how rich Eagleton is, so maybe more humor will come from Eagletonians being fish out of water in Pawnee situations. I think I like that there is a clear arc for this season; I wasn’t quite sure what it was going to be last episode. This gives it a clear arc beyond just a recall election.

Ron moved in with Diane!! I figured he’d build them a house, but maybe he hasn’t decided to do that yet. He needs to get off the grid first. It’s so sweet that he’s got the girls on his old phone. The Tom&Donna bit with social media has great. I’ve known so many snapchat-ers who’ve done exactly that scene. I really missed Donna last week, so I was glad her lines were so great this week.

“I live for the grid. It’s where I meet 40% of my jump offs.”

Aww, Ann practicing her mothering skills on April as well as the spark for her and Chris leaving. Where is Ann from? I wonder if leaving Pawnee is easier for her bc she was born elsewhere? Her parents don’t seem to be in town, so I’m not sure how deep her Pawnee ties are besides Leslie and the gang. I didn’t think they’d introduce this thread so early, but ‘m glad it’s not all introduced in the same episode, of course. Though this may hurt if they decide to tell Leslie early and then we’d see Leslie slowly breaking down over the episodes as she anticipates her best friend leaving her. But watch, April is gonna react the hardest. She’s gonna act out and then be the most upset.

I love how Ben makes Leslie an even better person. They are an amazing pair.

Finally; hold up: how does Leslie have the power/authority to just merge the towns. Is there no one else on city council or the mayor or anyone else who has anything to do with this decision? Lol. Seems a bit of a big decision for just Leslie to announce. I’m anticipating to see where they take this arc.

WELCOME TO PAWNEE!

What I Watched Today – Parks and Recreation

(really, yesterday, but I had to rewatch because I was so tired and couldn’t blog)

Parks is easily one of my favorite shows on television. From lovable, hilarious Amy Poehler, to snarky and dark April, and tough as nails but the best giggler on television Ron Swanson; comedy fans across the nation have fallen in love with Parks and Recreation. The only people who don’t seem to love Parks is the Emmy nomination committee, who nominate it but don’t acknowledge the brilliance of the show or its lead. So of course I am super excited it is back on my television.

Ron Swanson is a fantastic character. I love how rough and gruff he is, but how deep his sensitiveness goes. His romantic yet brief gestures for Xena (sorry, I must) Diane are completely sweet and completely in character. (He built her a canoe!!) And you can tell why he loves her so much because she’s also brief and to the point but still with a sly sense of humor. I can’t wait to see what kind of Dad he’s going to be. (I’m surprised he doesn’t already have older children but then again, with either of the Tammy’s, those families would have been jacked up.) I loved everything about their impromptu wedding, best of all Leslie’s joy and excitement, which as some posts on tumblr claimed, are how we all feel when watching our favorite TV show. Image

Everything about the Teaser was the perfectly the show.

London was a fun trip and I see some of the seeds of the rest of the season developing (Andy’s character development to match his hair and ab changes lol), also Ron and Chris/Ann becoming parents (and the latter’s departure). But I have to say that Tom’s storyline kind of bored me. There were perhaps too many Saperstein’s in the episode and they kind of cancelled each other out for me. Jean-Ralphio is my favorite, but mixed with Mona Lisa and their dad, it didn’t hold as much weight or excitement for me. I wonder, though, where the Tom/Jean-Ralphio relationship is heading, considering how frustrated Tom was with Jean-Ralphio in this episode. “I need some better friends.” Dr. Saperstein wasn’t as dynamic as he perhaps should have been for a father of JR and ML. He was kind of normal and oblivious to his children’s antics.

I am really in love with Leslie/Ben and it rivals my other 2 current TV couples for best post-will-they-won’t-they relationship upgrade. (Castle/Beckett and Nick/Jess are the other two.)

The best parts of the episode were the beginning and Jerry’s epic Jerry-ism with Chris and Ann. That scene cracked me up!

“When did you make the switch to boxer briefs?” More Donna, please!

I need Leslie Knope in my life, so she can help me figure out my life and get me awesome, super personalized and thought out gifts. LOL

“One bearded lady. She got all offended when I marveled at her.” I really dig April’s character development and how she showed her love of Leslie and supported Andy. And got to be Ron Swanson’s best man. She would’ve been the only choice for the job even had they decided to have a real wedding. Her letter to the committee about Leslie was so beautiful and made me tear up.

“I’m basically Babyface.”

Parks and Rec is not only super funny, but it’s got the most heart of any sitcom on television. And that’s why I love it. People can love Breaking Bad and Mad Men and things that focus on what’s dark in this world–and that’s fine–but we also need shows that focus on the good of people and friendship and love. We should focus on that equally as much.

ConStar Studies Parks and Recreation

In order to think of spec ideas, one tends to turn to recent events in the news to spur an idea. I’m not always good at that. But a show that I would love to spec (I’ve been trying and have yet to get it right) is Parks and Recreation and I think they’ve been fantastic, especially this season, at taking current events and adapting them to Pawnee.

Just from this season:

  • 5.02 “Soda Tax” pokes fun at cities (esp NY currently) that are imposing rules on the size of soft drinks in stores. Great way to adapt to Pawnee. Especially the great visual humor of the “child size” cup. 
  • 5.13 “Emergency Response” makes reference to cities’ amount of preparation for major storms and in giving Pawnee a failing grade, subtly makes commentary on the fact that most cities have been unprepared for the crazy kinds of storms we’ve been getting recently. (Quakenado!)
  • 5.16 “Bailout” took the idea of a major government bailout and scaled it down to be about an independent movie rental chain (covering two things at once, really).

These are just a few examples in which Parks is able to take a major news story or a recent trend (as with the movie chain idea) and adapt it to life in Pawnee. I really like this idea and keep searching for ways to take media stories and move them to Pawnee.

Side note: I wrote this post yesterday but scheduled it for today. I’m working my way towards blogging more! Score!