“Find your team”: The last hurrah of Leslie Knope, America’s last great public servant

February 25, 2015 1:31 PM

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This may be sacrilege, uttered the day after its hourlong season finale, but nonetheless, I’ll risk it: “Parks And Recreation” was not a perfect show. It was a good show that did its thing really well, which was to make America seem a little better than it really is. The show started out as a biting commentary on public service in America and became a wish-fulfilling fantasy; as Jaime Weinman of Maclean’s said on Twitter, it’s “(deliberately) escapism for idealists.” A lot of marriages and babies attended “Parks And Rec”’s slow denouement, as the characters froze into poses that they would eventually be unable to move from. As consistently charming so much of the cast is—including the surprise central couple of the show, April and Andy (played by Aubrey Plaza and Chris Pratt) and breakout fan favorites Donna and Ron Swanson (played by Retta and Nick Offerman)—it smoothed out from sharp satire into goopy soap, as friendships were more asserted than acted upon, characters became caricatures, and certain gags, like the disdain for name-changing Jerry/Larry/Garry Gergich, were run into the ground.

And yet. That’s what happens to sitcoms; the characters become a little less pathetic, and as a result, a whole lot more boring. (Plus, the writers run out of jokes.) “Parks And Recreation” delivered some instant classics to our lexicon—like “Galentine’s Day” and “Treat Yo’Self.” Even when the show ...

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