I’ve unintentionally made it my goal for 2020 to catch up with all the Classic White Sitcoms that have escaped my attention across the years – quarantine broke me. I finished Seinfeld in the early days of the year, tried and failed to get through Frasier, ran through Community in about a week and have now just finished Parks and Recreation.
It was… trying. Much has been made about how its sister show The Office has aged faster than real-time, in part due to how Jim is actually a giant fucking creepy loser and an unrepentantly boring misanthrope, but Parks and Rec has yet to face that same collective reckoning – yet. The politics of the show are not really what I’m interested in exploring, so I’ll be quick: the slavish adoration of Joe Biden, John McCain and other failed bootlicker senators that pop up across the later seasons is extremely grating in 2020, especially from an outsider New Zealand context, lol.
Rather, what ages Parks & Recreation in a far more accessible way is its seeming inability to care about its cast, Leslie, Ron and April excluded. Aubrey Plaza-come-Daria-Morgendorffer is meant to be the pet project of growth across the show’s run, and they did well there. But the writers simply did not give a shit about putting any sort of effort elsewhere. Ann is particularly pathetic, an utter waste of space, whose life only got any purpose when Sex Tape With A Teenager actor Rob Lowe was written away with her.
Tammy 2 was the true star of the show, and the writers couldn’t escape from that.