Well folks, it’s over. Our friends in Pawnee are off living their lives without the cameras and us to follow their every move. But it’s okay, because we know they’re okay, even in the future. And we left with so much more knowledge than we could ever ask for.
We’ve come a long way since the pit. From Lil Sebastian to Champion, Rent A Swag to Entertainment 720, waffles to bacon, 2009 to 2017, there was a lot to love about Parks and Recreation. And tonight, we’ll say a goodbye that’s more sad than the Lil Sebastian farewell concert or Ann’s move to Michigan. Parks had a lot going for it: the best actors and writers in comedy, critical acclaim and a loyal fan base. But above all, it had more heart than any other sitcom on the air. The show’s outlook was overwhelmingly positive, and its protagonist was a hard worker with total loyalty to her town, her career and her friends. We learned more from Parks and Recreation than we have from any show since Sesame Street or Mr. Rogers. Dare we say? Everything we need to know we learned from Parks and Recreation.
Again, file under: priorities. Parks is about the relationships between a wide net of coworkers, friends, and significant others. If Ben came along and it was The Leslie And Ben Show from that point on, there wouldn’t be much reason to watch. Leslie’s not the sort to get into a relationship and write off her friends. So, the “uteruses before duderuses” approach can be broadened into “don’t forget about your friends just because of relationship stuff.”
There’s also the great way Leslie is supportive of her lady friends, even when it’s tough. It wasn’t easy to accept Ann moving away, but Leslie encouraged her to do what was best for her family. And rather than get jealous that April was moving up in her career, Leslie helped facilitate the move. Leslie knows one of the greatest secrets in life – which is also one of our lessons from Parks and Recreation: when the members of your “team” succeed – whether it’s your friends, family, or coworkers – then that’s your success, too.
In one of my classrooms growing up, there was a poster that said “Failure To Plan Is Planning To Fail.” But I also say that “Planning To Fail Is Planning To Fail.” School decor aside, it’s important to not behave as though the worst is going to happen. Ben doesn’t write a concession speech, because he doesn’t think that losing is a possible outcome.
Or maybe the better lesson is this: surround yourself with people who will think that you won’t need the concession speech. Maybe Leslie wouldn’t have won if her circle was full of people who assumed she wouldn’t succeed. Fill your life with the Bens to your Leslie: people who expect you to win, even more than you do yourself.
Be a Good Person
When Leslie realizes her job is at stake because of her romantic relationship with Ben (and the fact that they bribed the maintenance guy during Lil Sebastian’s funeral to keep quiet), Leslie thinks it’s all over for her. But Ron, in his vast font of knowledge, reminds her that despite the fact she did a frowned upon/illegal thing, it doesn’t make her a bad person. I think this show overall has taught us that there is good in this world, and you can be part of bringing that to real life. Parks never puts anyone down, it inspires and encourages us to be better. We’re human. We make mistakes. But it’s what happens after the fact that shows our true character.
Speaking of being inspirational, while Leslie Knope herself is a great inspiration to us all, she also remind us that often times, the best person to encourage you is yourself. I don’t think Leslie would be half the leader she is today if she never thought she could do it. Yeah, she has to remind herself at times she can reach her goals (“Hey Leslie. It’s Leslie. Hang in there. I love you. Bye.”) Sure, you can have people like Ben around you believing in you and not writing concession speeches, but when Leslie walked out on the stage and gave the speech (as seen above a few paragraphs), she was ultimately the one to give the impassioned statement. No one fed her lines, she went with her gut and her gut made her win.
Still in deep denial Parks is over for good? Feel free to reference this handy grief model to cope with all the feels. PS: If you missed the rest of our 5,000 Candles in the Wind series, check it out here!!
In a world where we can easily access DVDs, DVR and Netflix, it makes it so much easier to watch a TV series for hours on end, lending itself to the highest form of laziness. In the moment, you think it’s worth it, but is it really?
For me, TV marathoning began in college, when a few of my friends and I decided to spend an entire day devoted to a whole season of Friends. We were/are fanatics of the show, so it’s not like we needed to watch it, but it’s the experience of watching it together with, ahem, friends, that makes it 10 times better. We called it a Friendstravaganza, and literally played episodes non stop all day, only stopping to get take out for dinner.
That was the beginning of the end, because I’m pretty sure the Friendstravaganza taught me how to watch TV all day. In fact, I made it a goal to use this new found skill to catch up on series that I’ve been meaning to watch but haven’t seen yet. My roommates and I even made a list of all the series we aimed to watch. In the past few years, I’ve been able to cross off Veronica Mars, Grey’s Anatomy, Six Feet Under, Friday Night Lights, Arrested Development, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, Homeland, and a bunch more.
I recently finished all seven seasons of The West Wing, thanks to Netflix Instant. A personal best, I managed to watch 155 episodes in 26 days. That’s about 1/7th of my month dedicated to President Bartlet and co. And as my beloved Tim Riggins would say, No Regrets.
But finishing The West Wing got me thinking, that just like Riggins and FNL, I found myself wanting to watch the last few episodes, but not wanting it to ever end. I was heading towards the usual post-show withdrawal and depression. In fact, with FNL, I immediately purchased all five seasons on DVD and watched the first season like a week after I finished the whole series.
Which got me thinking: post- TV marathoning is just like the five stages of grief, also known as the Kubler-Ross model. Except for entertainment purposes, I’ll call it the Taylor-Bartlet model. Let me explain.
**West Wing spoilers ahead**
1) Denial — “I feel fine.”; “This can’t be happening, not to me. Not to this show.”; “There’s gotta be more episodes, obviously.” ; “How can I go another day without watching another sexual tension filled episode of Josh and Donna moments?”
2) Anger — “How can this happen to me?”; ‘”Who is to blame for this show ending? NBC? Of course.”; “I want to know what happened to Moira Kelly’s horrible character, and now we’ll NEVER find out.”; “Why was Sam not at Leo’s funeral?? Come AWN Rob Lowe!”; “DID ZOEY MOVE TO DC TO BE WITH CHARLIE WHILE HE’S STUDYING AT GEORGETOWN TO BE A LAWYER LIKE HIS SOON-TO-BE FATHER-IN-LAW (I’M ASSUMING)??”
3) Bargaining — “I’ll do anything for another season, maybe Pres. Bartlet at his New Hampshire farm, driving Abbey crazy because he can’t smoke?”; “I will give my life savings if I can watch Toby’s kid Huck and CJ and Danny’s daughter get married”; “If only Aaron Sorkin came back for just one last half season and make a Two Cathedrals finale part two?”; “Ok, what if I rewatch season one in its entirety, that’s like a whole new revamped WW, seeing as it’s been weeks since I last saw it”
4) Depression — “I’m so upset that I never caught on to WW sooner.” “Nothing will be this good, why bother with any other show?”; “I miss Mrs. Landingham, why go on?”; “There will never be a series like this ever again. I’m looking at you, Newsroom.”; “No, it’s totally normal for me to be crying and laughing and eating ice cream while watching this reunion video, and this and this.”
5) Acceptance — “In hindsight, I’m just thankful Netflix finally decided to put it on instant so I could watch the entire series at a rapid pace.”; “It ended on a good note, so there’s really no where else to go with it. I’ll just watch the Parks and Rec episode with Bradley Whitford doing a walk and talk, now”; “It’s going to be okay. I still haven’t watched The Wire”
I’m pretty sure I’m still in stage one of TV Marathoning grief, so if you need me, I’ll be on tumblr reblogging gifs and photosets of Josh and Donna’s relationship.