PARKS AND RECREATION. Like a cozy hearth

Welcome to Pawnee. A town without complexes, with a clear sense of self from start to finish, with a host of first-rate characters and a unique, enjoyable story.

Jan Tracz

17 August 2023

parks and rec

Pawnee is like a magical place we want to visit, even though it’s painfully dull on its own. Over the course of seven seasons, it becomes the backdrop for one of those incredibly heartwarming stories seasoned with American humor. The creators delve into the relationships of the employees at the mundane Parks and Recreation Department, and while this premise might seem unexciting at first, it turns out to be remarkably charming.

Meet Leslie Knope. You might ask, “Who is she?” Well, she’s the main character of Parks and Recreation, the healthiest show under the sun. Leslie is the one striving to keep the department in order, and it seems like only she truly cares about this often disheartening job. Leslie is usually a dreamer, but her intuitive thinking often saves the team from trouble. She’s the best employee, dreams of becoming the mayor of Pawnee, wants to find the man of her dreams, cares for all her friends, and even though she can be overly enthusiastic, believe me, you’d want to be friends with her. She’s accompanied by a diverse and slightly exaggerated cast of characters, together forming one of the most interesting ensembles of recent years.

Lesloe Knope

I wanted to introduce you to the character portrayed by Amy Poehler, as she’s the one the show mostly revolves around. Her character, portrayed with incredible enthusiasm, can steal the heart of any viewer. Leslie introduces us to the rest of the department’s employees, simultaneously building the whole setting of the show. But wait, what exactly is Parks and Rec? It’s primarily a show about friendship and the aspects it brings to our lives. This beautiful story aims to demonstrate how important human relationships can be and how much our lives depend on healthy and sincere friendships. The show also explores other themes like mentor-student relationships and boss-employee dynamics. As we get to know the quirks of Pawnee, we start to experience what the characters do, and we perceive the depicted world with tangible tenderness. And as it gets closer to the end, we become less willing to part with its whimsical charms.

There are shows that can be called cozy. When we watch them, we start to feel the warmth of home. They put us in a gentle mood, lift our spirits without forcing it, can be quite sentimental, but always redeem themselves at the least expected moment. Examples of such shows include The Good Place, The Office, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, or even Master of None. To this group, we must add Parks and Recreation. I can confidently say that the comedy I’m describing here excels in this “coziness.” And it was created by Michael Schur, the man who had a hand in virtually all the titles I mentioned; you can feel his touch and humor in Parks.

Ron Swanson

The strength of Parks and Recreation lies in several significant aspects. First and foremost, it’s the exceptionally well-written characters; the script finds its foundation in them, and through them, the episodes captivate the viewer’s heart and show no intention of letting go. The heart of the brigade is Leslie, while the “commander-in-chief” is Ron Swanson, a true-blooded American, about whom I wrote some time ago. This mustached gentleman with a deep voice is a complete opposite of Knope, but nothing prevents them from becoming the best of friends.

However, let’s not forget about the entire rest of the star-studded cast, as Chris Pratt and Aziz Ansari developed their wings here, and Rob Lowe sought American redemption. Leslie’s friend is played by Rashida Jones, a quite distinctive actress with a friendly smile. Her character provides a contrast to Knope, adding even more distinctiveness to their convoluted adventures. Pratt and Aubrey Plaza create a somewhat unconventional duo – he portrays a cheerful fool, while she seems to embody wickedness, a rather eccentric and sinister girl who bullies others while hiding her own issues. Two more characters deserve attention, joining the show later: Ben Wyatt (Adam Scott) and Chris Traeger (Rob Lowe). They are sent to bring order to the titular department and all its subordinates, contributing a lot to the show. The creators draw from Scott’s biography, and in Parks and Recreation, we find his neurotic meticulousness combined with a love for the band R.E.M. Rob Lowe, an actor stigmatized by Hollywood scandal, plays here as if he were a man in self-therapy. His character is impossible not to like – fixated on his “too positive” ideas, he keeps a constant smile on the viewer’s face. Lowe is a talented actor; he consciously guides the character and easily makes him a favorite of mine.


Then there’s the humor, sometimes painfully childish, but mostly well thought out and not crossing the boundaries of good taste. The writers know how to amuse the viewer, providing impeccable, slightly goofy entertainment. That being said, it’s an incredibly relaxing show – it can make you sit back, provide entertainment for the whole evening, and shout at you, “Stay, start the next season!” But most importantly, it’s the sense of closeness and the uniqueness and charm of Pawnee itself that, combined with gags and comedic situations, create an unparalleled atmosphere.

Welcome to Pawnee. A town without complexes, with a clear sense of self from start to finish, with a host of first-rate characters and a unique, enjoyable story. A lovely place, perfect to visit on a hot summer evening.

Jan Tracz

Jan Tracz

A journalist with four years of experience in the cultural industry (film, music, literature, politics). Writer for respected Polish and English sites and magazines, interviewed most famous stars, writers, actors, talents, directors and musicians (incl. Alejandro González Iñárritu, Lasse Hallström, Matthew Lewis, David Thomson, Richard Dyer, Rachel Shenton, Tom Wlaschiha, Lena Olin, Jenna Elfman, Lennie James, Yannick Bisson, Ximena Lamadrid, Malcolm Storry, Alexandra Savior). Current Film Studies MA student at King's College London.

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