When they announced season seven would Parks and Recreation’s final season, I was upset. I love this show. I love these characters. I love watching it every week, and I’m going to miss Parks and Recreation when it’s gone. The one thing I’m thankful for in all of this is that the show was given the chance to go out with a bang since they knew going in that this would be their final season, and if you haven’t been watching season seven, you are definitely missing out!
One of the many, many, many reasons I’ll miss Parks and Recreation is because it’s such a happy show. On a lot of other sitcoms, the characters are cynical, and a lot of the humor comes from them making fun of each other. But that’s not the case for Parks and Recreation. These characters all genuinely love each other – yes, even Ron and April – and when the show ends, there won’t be anything there to fill its place. There’s nothing like Parks and Recreation.
But in Parks and Recreation spirit, I don’t want to spend the next few weeks sad about the show ending. I’d rather celebrate what we did get to see. Check out this list of things that make Parks and Recreation such a special show and join me in revisiting them.
Love for Pawnee
Who can forget the driving force behind the show? All Leslie Knope wants to do in life – besides eventually become President – is to better her hometown. For years, she worked in the Pawnee Parks and Recreation department, fighting tooth and nail to achieve her dreams.
The two best episodes to exemplify Leslie’s work for the town are “Harvest Festival” and “Ann and Chris.” Season three’s “Harvest Festival” is an obvious choice because it’s one of the first times in the series that the Parks and Recreation department works together and comes up with something spectacular. Season six’s “Ann and Chris” may be a less obvious choice because it’s supposed to be about the titular characters leaving the town and the show, but I picked that one because it’s when we see Leslie and Ann break ground on Pawnee Commons, tying up the major narrative arc from way back in season one.
Shooting for the Stars
One of the best things about Leslie is that she works hard to make her dreams come true. And she has a lot of dreams! The show faced a major crisis between seasons three and four, and that was how to expand the show while still keeping its viewers. To do that, it had Leslie chase one of her dreams. Instead of solely working in the Parks and Recreation department, Leslie Knope would run for city council.
The show weathered the plot twist gracefully, as best seen in “The Comeback Kid” and “Win, Lose, or Draw.” But one of the most important things that came from the narrative shift was the fact that it freed Leslie up to expand her world beyond Pawnee, Indiana. She was able to get out of her comfort zone and explore, and that’s how she ended up working for the National Parks Service in this final season.
After Ben and Chris arrived in season three, one of the driving forces for the show was the developing relationship between Leslie and Ben. It was a complicated dance of trying to figure out if they could date, if they should date and if they would date. But it was ultimately worth it – for both Leslie and Ben, who are happily married with triplets in season seven, and for the audience. There are so many good Leslie and Ben moments, but my favorites have to be in season four’s “Smallest Park” and “The Trial of Leslie Knope” when they finally figure out they love each other. While you’re rewatching, definitely make sure to check out season five’s “Leslie and Ben” too. The Parks and Recreation department coming together to pull a makeshift wedding will have you in tears.
The most significant relationship on the show besides Leslie and Ben has to be the one between April and Andy. April and Andy’s wedding may have been a surprise to Leslie – and to all of us – but you can’t deny that those two love each other. Obviously rewatch their wedding episode – season three’s “Andy and April’s Fancy Party” – but while you’re there, you should stop by “Media Blitz,” a few episodes earlier to remember just what makes those two so special.
Treat Yo Self
This is a saying that’s gotten traction on Tumblr recently, even from people who don’t watch Parks and Recreation, and its introduction in the show culminates in one of the best scenes in all seven seasons when Ben walks out of a dressing room wearing a Batman costume because that’s how he’d “treat himself.”
Make sure you rewatch season four’s “Pawnee Rangers,” which gave us this fabulous saying, and remember to treat yo self once in a while no matter what, just like Donna and Tom.
What season seven is doing so brilliantly is revisiting everything that makes Parks and Recreation what it is, and for me, the heart of the show comes down to the characters in that Parks and Recreation department in Pawnee, Ind., who over the course of the series became a family.
So many of the episodes I’ve already singled out show just that: the family of the Parks and Recreation department. But the one that’s not on this list that I’d suggest you watch is the season six finale, “Moving Up.” Since the episode ended with a time jump to 2017, it’s this episode that truly represents the end of the show as we knew it. Although I’m sure the series finale will be amazing, I don’t really know what’s going to top everyone banding together to put Leslie’s name on the town founders’ statue.
Parks and Recreation is a special show, and come the series finale, I will be bawling my eyes out as I watch it leave. But up until that moment when the last episode airs, I want to celebrate this show, because it more than deserves than tears. Ultimately, in your rewatch, watch the episodes you love because that’s what Parks and Recreation is all about. Now, I’m going to go watch “The Fight” and laugh and love, just like Leslie Knope would want me to do. Who’s with me?