Leslie Knope 2016: Yes We Can’t Not Knope

I think the least politically charged thing I can say right now is that I won’t be voting for Donald Trump. It’s amazing: a distaste for The Donald has actually managed to unite both the political right and the political left in America. Yet somehow, Donald Trump has the highest delegate count in the Republican primaries! But maybe, just maybe, the problem isn’t that people love the Drumpf. Maybe people just aren’t excited about the alternatives. But whether you’re a Republican who isn’t on the Cruz Cruise, or a Democrat who’s not feeling the Bern, I have an alternative we can all agree on – Leslie Knope. Not convinced? Keep reading:

 

  • Leslie Knope loves America more than all of the current candidates put together:
  • Plus, she accidentally legalized gay penguin marriage :
  • Her presidential portrait would be AMAZING:
  • Knope didn’t back down from Eagleton; won’t back down from international aggressors either:
  • Would redecorate the Oval Office like the Gryffindor common room:

  • Has real red state/blue state cross-appeal:
  • Good at being yelled at, an important skill for any public figure:
  • And she’s not afraid to take political punches:
  • Finally, there would be campaign ads we’d want to see:

  • She’d be a blast on the campaign trail:
  • Can you imagine the activities at the White House Easter Egg Roll?
  • We’d finally see the executive branch go HAM on the Library of Congress:
  • But we’d also have a president who respects the people who keep America going:
  • She’d deliver the BEST speeches on the campaign trail:

  • The Knope campaign wouldn’t end until victory was won:
  • Would have the MRA movement shut down with a single withering glance:
  • Yet she’d still speak to the traditional set in terms they can understand:
  • Leslie Knope knows what it takes to get America on your side:
  • AND she knows how things really go down in Washington:
  • Possible fictional running mate – Tami Taylor. Just saying.
  • Leslie already knew she was going to be President, so we may as well get on board:
  • Besides, it’s going to happen eventually, anyway:

 

 

 

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Meme-ntine’s Day

It’s Anna Howard Shaw Day Single’s Awareness Day Valentine’s Day this Sunday, which means a few things:

  • Single folks are ignoring the holiday by drowning in alcohol
  • Those with significant others are forced to talk to each other at some kind of romantic outing
  • Kids are handing out paper valentines and candy to brown paper bags taped to desks at school

But what happens when single and taken adults want to hand out paper valentines to their friends IRL? They create memes that look like old school valentines using their favorite fictional characters and comic sans and post it on the World Wide Web. This time of year is one of my favorites to monitor on the Internet to see what kind of kooky things people come up with. Here are some of the best fandom valentines from the Internet’s virtual brown paper bag. Consider it our gift to you.

Valentines-leo

after years circulating online, maybe this will be the year this card becomes irrelevant.

just because bill nye was part of your childhood doesn’t mean he doesn’t have sex. or is a badass.

paula’s cutting down with the unsalted butter

history isn't the only thing that has its eyes on you, AMIRITE

history isn’t the only thing that has its eyes on you, AMIRITE

whatever you say, groffsauce

whatever you say, groffsauce

not willing to wait for it

not willing to wait for it

jokes aside I MISS JIM HALPERT

CLASSIC MATTHEWS

roflcopter

the life of pablo album cover v. 3

who doesn’t love a good lisp joke?

memes collide

a truly heartwarming sentiment, tbh

get in the cage

michelle's a lucky girl

michelle’s a lucky girl

Best of 2015: Everything I Need To Know I Learned From Parks and Recreation

If you’re still jonesing for more Amy and Tina after the epic SNL this weekend, go see Sisters. Or you can look back and read one of our favorite posts from our 5,000 Candles in the Wind series dedicated to Parks and Recreation before we said goodbye to it forever. Amy and the rest of the crew taught us a lot about life through the show, and we’ll be forever grateful.

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.

Friends, Waffles, Work

Or waffles, friends work. No matter. In other words: priorities. Even Leslie, career-driven as she is, knows that work takes a back seat to the big things in life – your friends. And waffles, which in a broader sense you could interpret as something like “taking the time to enjoy life.” Except that I think she really does mean waffles.

Ovaries Before Brovaries

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.

Treat Yo Self

You could say that Tom and Donna are a couple of silly geese, but no. They both work hard and play hard. The key to Treat Yo Self: it’s a once a year occurence. You don’t rack up credit card debt because you “deserve” good things, but every once in a while it’s good to enjoy the fruits of your hard work. Like Tom and Donna, it’s always nice to have a friend to back you up, so when you rationalize that you don’t really need those fine leather goods, a still small voice whispers “treat yo self.”

Say Thank You

I have a philosophy about the “sorry epidemic,” that is, the way people start or end sentences with “sorry” when they haven’t done anything wrong. My theory is that in most cases, what the person really means is either please or thank you. Rather than apologizing for being an inconvenience in advance, what they really mean to do is ask for something. And rather than apologizing for being an inconvenience in retrospect, what they mean to do is say thank you: thank you for accommodating me, or understanding, or going out of your way, or being supportive. People apologize for existing when they really want to thank other people for making their existence easier.

No show does “thank you ” better than Parks. Whether it’s the final moments before Ann leaves Pawnee, or April’s tear-inducing speech in D.C., these folks know how to thank the people who make their lives better. Next time you feel compelled to apologize when you haven’t really done something you shouldn’t, look deeper. Do you really want to say please or thank you instead?

Don’t Write The Concession Speech

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.

I Love You And I Like You

The phrase that Leslie and Ben often tell each other is quite endearing and sums up a perfect relationship. But the writers didn’t come up with it – Rashida Jones’ dad did. I believe Amy wrote the episode it first appeared in, and she revealed in an interview that when she was in Monte Carlo with Quincy Jones (as you do), he grabbed her face in his hands and said to her, “I love you and I like you.” Whether it be a significant other, family member a friend, or your daughter’s comedy wife, it’s important to not only let them know how you feel, but actually truly mean what you say. Anyone can say ‘love ya’ as a throwaway, but to add the ‘I like you’ part implies you enjoy them as a human being, enjoy their company, enjoy everything they have to offer.

Know Where Your Money Goes

Okay, on one hand, definitely treat yo self. On the other hand, don’t blow your budget on Harry Potter fantasy camp.

Of course, I would say that, I’m a Ravenclaw.

When You Love Something, You Fight For It

This speech from Leslie’s final statement as she vies for city council is the best summarization of Leslie Knope. “If you love something, you don’t threaten it. You fight for it. You take care of it. You put it first… If I seem too passionate, it’s because I care. If I come on strong, it’s because I feel strongly.” Leslie Knope is one of the strongest, if not THE strongest female character ever on TV because she doesn’t back down. She fights for what she believes in, and she stands up not only for herself, but for those around her. It doesn’t just apply to her career, it applies to her friendships. From making unnecessary holidays to going to all costs to help a friend propose, Leslie will do anything in her power to see things get done. When it came to her relationship with Ben, she was willing to give up her career just to be with him. She said, ‘Let’s just screw it,’ and it eventually paid off. When you love something, you fight for it. As Ron Swanson said, “Never half-ass two things. Whole-ass one thing.” Leslie can proudly say she whole-assed a whole bunch of things.

“I like to tell people get on board and buckle up, because my ride’s gonna be a big one. If you get motion sickness, put your head between your knees, because Leslie Knope’s stopping for no one.”

Time Is Money; Money Is Power; Power is Pizza; Pizza is Knowledge

This is probably my favorite thing April has ever said on the entire series. First of all, the fact that she’s running this meeting is just great character development. I love character development. But no matter how ridiculous it sounds when it comes out, she usually has a point. In Pawnee in particular, there are a lot of randoms who have nothing better to do but complain, like that woman who is always too concerned about her dog and brings up her pooch problems at town meetings. These are the folks April and co. have to deal with and they don’t have time to sit around listening to droll residents all day. Also, pizza. Pizza is always a good choice.

Have Dating Standards

Ok, this might actually be one of the biggest takeaways I’ve had from the show. When Tom said this, he spoke to my soul on a deep level. The fact that Ann didn’t know who Ginuwine was (Ginuwine – is Ginuwine) was astonishing, and honestly, I, like Tom, don’t think I could ever date someone who didn’t know who he was. Speaking of Ann, in her days of going through guy after guy, she often had a tendency to change into the people she was dating. Like Julia Roberts in Runway Bride – she didn’t even know what type of egg she liked. It’s important to have simple standards for your ideal mate, because when you figure out what you want – like Ann wanted a kid – you will most likely get what you’re looking for.

There’s Always Paris

paris parks

I kind of want this in a tattoo form but not, because it’s too long. Leslie always has a lot on her plate, but somehow she manages it all. She has time to make binders on how to be a garbage woman but also finds time to make a scrapbook about her “Thoughts on Sam Waterston“. So when something extremely stressful comes her way, like being recalled from city council, it’s important to just take a break from it all. We know Leslie loves her job, but it’s important to take a break once in a while. We get so caught up in the millions of things on our to do lists each day that we don’t actually take a chance to breathe and be present and let go of whatever is bothering us. Your trip to Paris doesn’t have to be Paris. Paris can be your favorite park or cafe or a place an hour away to the middle of nowhere. If you have the ability to get away, even for just a brief moment, do it.

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.

Inspire Yourself

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.

Feminism Isn’t Just For Women

I am a goddess. a glorious female warrior, queen of all i survey. enemies of fairness and equality, hear my womanly roar. Also men’s rights is nothing.

Johnny Karate’s Rules for Success

I mean, I think that’s pretty self explanatory.

The Only Constant Is Change

Unfortunately, doppelganger Ron has a point. Returning for one of the final episodes, Eagleton Ron shows up like he usually does, out of nowhere, and gives sage advice, like a traveling Yoda who is easier to understand. As we say goodbye to the gang tonight, the gang says goodbye to each other. Ben and Leslie and Andy and April are moving to D.C., Tom’s getting married to Lucy, Donna’s enjoying married life with Joe and moving to Seattle, Ron has his construction company and family to tend to, and Chris and Ann are already off being domestic in Michigan. Oh and Garry’s the mayor (CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT). Despite the fact a lot has happened for the Parks department in the past seven/10 years, it was bound to change sometime. Leslie was always bigger than Pawnee, and while her dreams seemed far away in season one, we realize that it’s time for her to actually achieve those goals. She turned a pit into a playground and now it’s her turn to bring that same goal-oriented talent to D.C. And this show, no matter how much we love it, was bound to have its final episode whether we liked it or not. But we’ll find another show to like and love. Maybe not as much and not in the same way, but we will. We’ll move on. We’ll move up. And we’ll miss you in the saddest fashion.

The Woman Who Wrote Sisters Is Your Favorite Person You’ve Never Heard Of

We’ve written about our comedy deity numerous times on the blog before – the queens that are Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. Instead of writing about how much we adore and look up to these wonderfully smart, talented, confident women before their BLOCKBUSTER movie Sisters comes out on Friday (against Star Wars – #YouCanSeeBoth), let’s talk about the person who is responsible for bringing our First Ladies back together, the writer of Sisters, Paula Pell.

totally normal, casual photo

For comedy nerds, Paula and her impressive career shouldn’t be news to you. But for those who aren’t as geeked as us, here’s a brief intro to this hilarious human. Paula’s first big break was in the mecca itself, Saturday Night Live. She started as a writer in 1995 and continued working there until 2013, but she occasionally writes a few sketches here and there (and rumor has it she might be returning this weekend when Tina & Amy double up as hosts!). But more on SNL later.

Paula’s writing has spanned into her own webseries Hudson Valley Ballers, and she was hired by Judd Apatow to tweak, or “punch-up” the scripts for Bridesmaids and This Is 40. Plus she’s a great follow on Twitter.

On screen, you might remember her as Ron Swanson’s mom, Tammy Zero, on Parks and Rec:

or Pete Hornberger’s problematic wife Paul on 30 Rock:

But back to SNL. In her nearly 20 year tenure at the show, she wrote some of the most iconic sketches in the show’s history, and you’ve probably quoted her lines at least one point in your life.

Starting with the most recent, she returned for the SNL 40th Anniversary special, joining forces with longtime SNL writer/producer & Tonight Show announcer Steve Higgins and Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake for the musical journey through SNL history in the cold open:

And Paula’s work was mentioned multiple times throughout that song, since he work is so prevalent in SNL history. Here are just some of the sketches she’s written throughout the years. If you like any of these, you’ll probably like Sisters too. #YouCanSeeThemBoth.

Bobbi and Marty Culp

I remember truly getting into SNL when I was in 6th grade, when the main players included folks like Will Ferrell, Tracy Morgan, Tim Meadows, Ana Gasteyer, Molly Shannon, etc. Needless to say, it was a solid time for the show. During this era was a sketch featuring The Culps, a husband and wife team of music teachers and frequent random school assembly performers. Their shtick was to cover “hip” pop tunes but still sing it in a ridiculous way, and still to this day, sketches like The Culps and a few below have special places in my heart that feel like a warm hug.

Spartan Cheerleaders

<<click here to see a classic Spartan cheerleader sketch!>>

Will Ferrell and Cheri Oteri’s over enthusiastic and under qualified Spartan cheerleaders are two of the most recognizable and beloved characters to come out of SNL, and Paula helped bring them to life. She and Will and Cheri would write all the sketches together, and Paula has even said their late-night sessions even led to Will taking off his shirt in delusion. Oh to be in those offices. For the genius in the making – not shirtless Will Ferrell. To be clear.

Debbie Downer

<<check out the epic Lindsay Lohan Debbie Downer sketch here!>>

Paula helped create possibly Rachel Dratch’s most memorable role as the depressing Debbie Downer who just could not catch a break. Years later, I feel like the term “Debbie Downer” is still used in regular vocabulary to describe anyone who is just downright miserable. Which I think is ironic, seeing as how Debbie Down only brings us joy to our lives. Plus, I will still watch that classic Lindsay Lohan episode every few months.

Omletteville

<<Watch Paula’s work in the sketch that helped JT become SNL royalty>>

In 2003, Justin Timberlake was coming off ‘N Sync and setting himself apart as a solo artist. But when he signed up to host SNL for the first time, he also had to prove his acting and comedic chops. Little did we know he blew us all away and went on to become a member of the prestigious Five-Timers host club. In that very first ep he hosted in ’03 when he knocked it out of the park, he did a sketch called Omeletteville, in which he dressed up as a giant omelette in order to promote a nearby breakfast restaurant. His rival? Chris Parnell, dressed as bacon and eggs and also keen on getting customers into his diner. The sketch was such a hit, that JT has gone back to do it five more times, including visits to Homlessville, Wrappinville, Veganville, Liquorville, and more.

Appalachian Emergency Room

 

<<The genius continues with this Christmas-related clip>>

Paula’s sketch featured the emergency room where redneck folks who got into redneck medical issues would go to be healed. I feel like this sketch was so odd and obscure and weird and off-kilter that it was brilliant.

Gilly

<<Click to watch SORRY! from Gilly & Paula!>>

Paula continued her streak of writing iconic characters for cast members with Gilly, A mischievous schoolgirl with an afro and questionable facial expressions played by Kristen Wiig. The initial unassumingness of Gilly, the use of repetition, and Kristen’s natural comedic talent make this such a great character, and Paula is the one to credit.

First In Friendship: Small-Town Shows To Watch After Parks And Recreation

I haven’t been able to rewatch the Parks and Recreation finale yet. Part of it is because I’m just not ready to cry again just yet. And a bigger part  is that I’m busy. I’m not someone who treats busy as a four-letter word, even though it can have a negative connotation. Maybe we should start calling it something cuter, like “bustling,” or positive, like “engrossed.”  It’s good to be involved; Leslie Knope would be proud.

But even when you don’t have a lot of free time, it’s easy to feel a tv show-sized hole when one of your favorites gets cancelled. That was especially true of Parks, a half-hour (or hour, thanks NBC) oasis every week. When you’re busy – and honestly, I hardly know anyone who doesn’t qualify as such – you need those little breaks in your day or week. If you’re missing those 30-60 minutes in Pawnee every week, here’s what to watch next:

Parks And Recreation

I mean, again. Watch it again. Now that we know what happens to everybody, take it back to the beginning! Not every show holds up well on a rewatch. Sometimes those “off” seasons are too painful or your favorite character started off awesome and became terrible. I mean I’m still mourning for Season 1 Joey Potter. But Parks is a show that doesn’t have any of those pitfalls … well, it did have a lot of falling into pits for a while, but they filled it in and everyone moved on. Parks and Recreation did character development better than any other show. It’s so fun to watch bratty college April knowing that there was a hard-working go-getter in there all along, or tough cookie Ron Swanson before he had a wife and kids. Or Ben Wyatt, back when he seemed like Public Enemy Number One. So, my first suggestion for what to do after you finish watching Parks and Recreation is to watch it again.

One of the best things about Parks was getting to know all of the wacky residents of Pawnee and feel the sometimes stifling warmth of small-town life. Most t.v. shows are either set in major metropolises – and at that, it’s usually just New York or L.A. Or, it’s in a tiny town. You don’t get a lot of shows set in actual cities that are less acclaimed, like Toledo or Tucsan. If it’s small-town TV you want, we can find that for you. Once you’ve rewatched Parks, here are the next series you should check out:

For an endearing small town: Gilmore Girls

You can’t watch this without wanting to move to Stars Hollow so that you can buy coffee from Luke, take dance lessons from Miss Patti, and plan a weird event with Kirk. Like Pawnee, there are people you love, people you hate, and places you’ll come to know like they’re from your own hometown.

For an innocent small town: The Andy Griffith Show

But not too much Andy Griffith Show. It’s a television masterpiece but it can also get a little hokey in large doses. However, if you’ve never watched it you might be surprised by how fun and quirky it is. If you grew up on classic TV, Griffith is like a half-hour of childhood. Or your dad or grandpa’s childhood, if you grew up on modern TV.

For an April Ludgate-worthy small town: Welcome To Nightvale

Guys, it’s a podcast, not a tv show. You just have to trust me. It’s about the happenings in a spooky yet hilarious town, with idiosyncrasies to rival Pawnee. It’s one of those shows you just have to listen to to understand.

For a dramatic small town: Twin Peaks

Yes, it’s a drama about Poor Dead Laura Palmer. But the second the log lady shows up, you know that you’re dealing with something a bit more wacky than your typical network drama. Twin Peaks is a small town withs dark side, but there’s also teen drama and the requisite diner.

For a heartwarming small town: Friday Night Lights

If you watched Parks and Recreation, listened to the Tim Riggins references, and didn’t get it, I’m jealous of you. That means you haven’t seen Friday Night Lights yet and still get to watch it for the first time. If you’re one of those people who thinks “football? GROSS. Texas? NEVER” then this is the show for you. It’s about football but it’s about life. And Tami Taylor is like Leslie Knope if Leslie Knope got married young, worked in education, and lived in Texas. Guaranteed, you’ll change that “Texas Never” into a “Texas Forever” by the end of season one.

 For a small town that’s not actually a small town: Parenthood

All right, the Bravermans don’t live in a small town, but you never see evidence of where they live, anyway. The Bravermans are sort of a small town unto themselves. Like Parks, it’s a show about the people you love who also drive you crazy.

#RIP: The Oddity of Celebrity Deaths

As I write this, it’s moments after the Parks and Recreation series finale. The episode left me, like many of you fans out there too, laughing and crying and alternating between the two. It’s a bittersweet moment as we say one final bye bye to one of the best TV shows ever to exist. I’m so, so glad with the way it ended, but in a weird place knowing it’s never coming back again.

It became even more bittersweet with the end card that read “We love you, Harris. – The Parks Crew”, a note I had been anticipating yet was just as teary-eyed upon seeing it. For those that might not know, this was a dedication to Harris Wittels, a co-executive producer, writer, and guest actor (Harris the animal control guy) on the show, who died last Thursday from a suspected drug overdose. He was 30 years old.

*This post gets deep. You’ve been warned.

I work in entertainment news. It is lit’rally my job to be on the “pulse” of what’s happening in the industry, so when my boss sent me the email of a news alert from TMZ with the headline “Parks and Rec Exec Harris Wittels Found Dead Signs of Overdose” and asked me to write it up, I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. I felt my heart drop a little. I remember having to read it multiple times to make sure I was comprehending correctly, and was kind of sick to my stomach after realizing it was real life. I checked online to see if anyone was talking about it yet, and slowly, then at all once, I saw “#RIP” and “so sad ::emoji sad face with tear::” sprinkled throughout my social media timelines. While social media condolences often seem contrite and insincere at times, I was especially moved to see his name trending worldwide, only because, forgive me, I just didn’t realize that many people were familiar with his work.

I didn’t know Harris personally. Of course, I was a fan of his through Parks, and I was a fan of his through his Comedy Bang Bang episodes, particularly of the ever ridiculous Farts and Procreation series. One thing we did have in common is that we went to the same college. He graduated two years before me, and while I didn’t know him then, Facebook tells me that we have mutual friends, that my former RA was his close pal, and that we both went to the same beloved study abroad program. Something to know about the school we went to is that it’s fairly small, with around 3,500 undergrads. There’s a joke that we’re part of a “mafia”, especially in places like LA and New York, because most kids who graduate go on to work in film, TV, theater, industries of that nature. Because there are so many alums in the entertainment industry, it’s one of those things where you’ll no doubt meet a fellow mafioso at a job you’re applying for or at a random party, and they’re most likely willing to help fellow grads out with a job or interview. When Harris died, I wasn’t just seeing randoms pay tribute to him online, I was seeing people I knew in real life. I got an email from the school career services center (because they send out job listings and LA events and stuff), with a note from one of the professors who counted Harris as one of his students, and who I knew from working with on an event back in the day.

In the email, he recalls how kind Harris was to the students in his classes, how he skyped in several times to answer questions about comedy or writing, and willingly gave out his email address for kids to contact them if they needed advice or help with a script. Mafia. Harris’ death hit a little closer to home for me than some, but I still didn’t know him, I’ve never met him, I didn’t know what he was like as a person.

But in the age where we listen to Comedy Bang Bang podcasts and watch TV shows like Parks and easily connect to people on Twitter and receive instant responses via Humblebrag, we feel like we do know them. We treat their death like they were our friend, our family, because they have been inside our homes, our cars, our headphones for years.

I don’t think I’ve ever been truly upset about a celebrity death until Cory Monteith. I was kind of a Gleek circa season 1 and 2, but, like many other fans, that petered off towards the end. I even went to one of their CD signings for the first soundtrack and got to meet Cory. It was brief. He had a huge smile. Had kind eyes. Very nice. But, again, I didn’t know him. He wasn’t my friend. But for some reason, when my friend told me the news of his sudden death – I can remember it so vividly – I felt like I had been punched in the stomach. I couldn’t believe it. Watching the episode of The Quarterback where they say goodbye to him – forget it. I ugly cried through 98% of that. But what kept circling back in my mind is that Cory was a teen idol. There were tweens and teens out there who had posters of him up on their wall, and suddenly they find out he died from a drug overdose? The only thing I could compare it to would be if a member of BSB passed away from alcohol poisoning back in 1999. I would have been completely devastated and unable to properly cope with my feelings.

In addition, we live in a world where we not only feel like we spend so much time with celebrities in the privacy of our own homes, we now have the ability to reach out to them in a form that’s not a fan letter sent to some random Post Office Box on Santa Monica Boulevard. Kids these days have Facebook and Twitter and Instagram and Snapchat. The chances of Harry Styles or Ariana Grande or Cory Monteith replying to your declaration of love or fan art is 10 times higher than me getting a signed autographed headshot of Leo DiCaprio in 1997. Celebrities just connect with people in such a different way now that we actually have evidence to prove that the delusional friendship might actually be… real.

And similarly, there are a handful of really important and powerful celebrities whose star status is enough for us to come together and agree that their body of work is worth praising. We had it with Robin Williams, Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson in recent years. In the wake of their sudden deaths, we saw an outpouring of condolences and #RIPs for these people that most of us had never even come face to face with. But they were a part of our lives – their work marked important milestones for us, provided bonding moments with friends and family, and that’s why we mourn them. Not because we’re friends with them. But because their contribution to society made an impact on a single life.

All this TL;DR isn’t to say we shouldn’t grieve people in the public eye, especially when their passing is sudden and tragic. It’s that we should. And one step further, it’s to learn from it and let friends and family know you’re there for them and resources are always available if they think they’re going down the wrong path. I feel like I knew Harris through the Mafia. I encountered Cory’s kindness for a few seconds. But my sadness, like many others, shouldn’t be dismissed because it’s for celebrities we’ve never met. It’s because their lives still mattered to those who did know them. Their lives matter. Our lives matter. All lives matter.

 

5,000 Candles in the Wind: Everything I Need To Know I Learned From Parks and Recreation

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.

Friends, Waffles, Work

Or waffles, friends work. No matter. In other words: priorities. Even Leslie, career-driven as she is, knows that work takes a back seat to the big things in life – your friends. And waffles, which in a broader sense you could interpret as something like “taking the time to enjoy life.” Except that I think she really does mean waffles.

Ovaries Before Brovaries

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.

Treat Yo Self

You could say that Tom and Donna are a couple of silly geese, but no. They both work hard and play hard. The key to Treat Yo Self: it’s a once a year occurence. You don’t rack up credit card debt because you “deserve” good things, but every once in a while it’s good to enjoy the fruits of your hard work. Like Tom and Donna, it’s always nice to have a friend to back you up, so when you rationalize that you don’t really need those fine leather goods, a still small voice whispers “treat yo self.”

Say Thank You

I have a philosophy about the “sorry epidemic,” that is, the way people start or end sentences with “sorry” when they haven’t done anything wrong. My theory is that in most cases, what the person really means is either please or thank you. Rather than apologizing for being an inconvenience in advance, what they really mean to do is ask for something. And rather than apologizing for being an inconvenience in retrospect, what they mean to do is say thank you: thank you for accommodating me, or understanding, or going out of your way, or being supportive. People apologize for existing when they really want to thank other people for making their existence easier.

No show does “thank you ” better than Parks. Whether it’s the final moments before Ann leaves Pawnee, or April’s tear-inducing speech in D.C., these folks know how to thank the people who make their lives better. Next time you feel compelled to apologize when you haven’t really done something you shouldn’t, look deeper. Do you really want to say please or thank you instead?

Don’t Write The Concession Speech

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.

I Love You And I Like You

The phrase that Leslie and Ben often tell each other is quite endearing and sums up a perfect relationship. But the writers didn’t come up with it – Rashida Jones’ dad did. I believe Amy wrote the episode it first appeared in, and she revealed in an interview that when she was in Monte Carlo with Quincy Jones (as you do), he grabbed her face in his hands and said to her, “I love you and I like you.” Whether it be a significant other, family member a friend, or your daughter’s comedy wife, it’s important to not only let them know how you feel, but actually truly mean what you say. Anyone can say ‘love ya’ as a throwaway, but to add the ‘I like you’ part implies you enjoy them as a human being, enjoy their company, enjoy everything they have to offer.

Know Where Your Money Goes

Okay, on one hand, definitely treat yo self. On the other hand, don’t blow your budget on Harry Potter fantasy camp.

Of course, I would say that, I’m a Ravenclaw.

When You Love Something, You Fight For It

This speech from Leslie’s final statement as she vies for city council is the best summarization of Leslie Knope. “If you love something, you don’t threaten it. You fight for it. You take care of it. You put it first… If I seem too passionate, it’s because I care. If I come on strong, it’s because I feel strongly.” Leslie Knope is one of the strongest, if not THE strongest female character ever on TV because she doesn’t back down. She fights for what she believes in, and she stands up not only for herself, but for those around her. It doesn’t just apply to her career, it applies to her friendships. From making unnecessary holidays to going to all costs to help a friend propose, Leslie will do anything in her power to see things get done. When it came to her relationship with Ben, she was willing to give up her career just to be with him. She said, ‘Let’s just screw it,’ and it eventually paid off. When you love something, you fight for it. As Ron Swanson said, “Never half-ass two things. Whole-ass one thing.” Leslie can proudly say she whole-assed a whole bunch of things.

“I like to tell people get on board and buckle up, because my ride’s gonna be a big one. If you get motion sickness, put your head between your knees, because Leslie Knope’s stopping for no one.”

Time Is Money; Money Is Power; Power is Pizza; Pizza is Knowledge

This is probably my favorite thing April has ever said on the entire series. First of all, the fact that she’s running this meeting is just great character development. I love character development. But no matter how ridiculous it sounds when it comes out, she usually has a point. In Pawnee in particular, there are a lot of randoms who have nothing better to do but complain, like that woman who is always too concerned about her dog and brings up her pooch problems at town meetings. These are the folks April and co. have to deal with and they don’t have time to sit around listening to droll residents all day. Also, pizza. Pizza is always a good choice.

Have Dating Standards

Ok, this might actually be one of the biggest takeaways I’ve had from the show. When Tom said this, he spoke to my soul on a deep level. The fact that Ann didn’t know who Ginuwine was (Ginuwine – is Ginuwine) was astonishing, and honestly, I, like Tom, don’t think I could ever date someone who didn’t know who he was. Speaking of Ann, in her days of going through guy after guy, she often had a tendency to change into the people she was dating. Like Julia Roberts in Runway Bride – she didn’t even know what type of egg she liked. It’s important to have simple standards for your ideal mate, because when you figure out what you want – like Ann wanted a kid – you will most likely get what you’re looking for.

There’s Always Paris

paris parks

I kind of want this in a tattoo form but not, because it’s too long. Leslie always has a lot on her plate, but somehow she manages it all. She has time to make binders on how to be a garbage woman but also finds time to make a scrapbook about her “Thoughts on Sam Waterston“. So when something extremely stressful comes her way, like being recalled from city council, it’s important to just take a break from it all. We know Leslie loves her job, but it’s important to take a break once in a while. We get so caught up in the millions of things on our to do lists each day that we don’t actually take a chance to breathe and be present and let go of whatever is bothering us. Your trip to Paris doesn’t have to be Paris. Paris can be your favorite park or cafe or a place an hour away to the middle of nowhere. If you have the ability to get away, even for just a brief moment, do it.

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.

Inspire Yourself

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.

Feminism Isn’t Just For Women

I am a goddess. a glorious female warrior, queen of all i survey. enemies of fairness and equality, hear my womanly roar. Also men’s rights is nothing.

Johnny Karate’s Rules for Success

I mean, I think that’s pretty self explanatory.

The Only Constant Is Change

Unfortunately, doppelganger Ron has a point. Returning for one of the final episodes, Eagleton Ron shows up like he usually does, out of nowhere, and gives sage advice, like a traveling Yoda who is easier to understand. As we say goodbye to the gang tonight, the gang says goodbye to each other. Ben and Leslie and Andy and April are moving to D.C., Tom’s getting married to Lucy, Donna’s enjoying married life with Joe and moving to Seattle, Ron has his construction company and family to tend to, and Chris and Ann are already off being domestic in Michigan. Oh and Garry’s the mayor (CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT). Despite the fact a lot has happened for the Parks department in the past seven/10 years, it was bound to change sometime. Leslie was always bigger than Pawnee, and while her dreams seemed far away in season one, we realize that it’s time for her to actually achieve those goals. She turned a pit into a playground and now it’s her turn to bring that same goal-oriented talent to D.C. And this show, no matter how much we love it, was bound to have its final episode whether we liked it or not. But we’ll find another show to like and love. Maybe not as much and not in the same way, but we will. We’ll move on. We’ll move up. And we’ll miss you in the saddest fashion.

5,000 Candles in the Wind: Batman is Crying and So Am I

I hate that I’m even saying this, but there are only TWO more episodes before the Parks and Recreation finale. TWO more episodes before we say one last goodbye to Pawnee forever. TWO more episodes before I’m huddled in a corner of my room, swaying back and forth repeating the name ‘Bobby Newport’ and practicing with different inflections, and crying my eyes out.

We all know that Parks is one of the funniest TV shows that’s every graced our screens, but one of the reasons that make Parks one step above the best sitcom is that it has heart. It tugs at our heartstrings and make us feel the feels, and because we’ve already established we’re both criers here, make us sob uncontrollably as if these are real people. So as we prepare for even more tears next week, here are some of our favorite (not favorite?) moments that have made our eye sockets well up with tears over the past seven seasons.

Andy Sings ‘The Way You Look Tonight’ {Season 2, Episode 16}

{at 1:55}

Season One was all about exposition, establishing the characters, and the show finding its footing.  So, the tears didn’t really hit until season two.  April and Andy’s relationship had been building, and by the time Galentine’s Day aired we were all pretty sure they were made for each other. Andy dedicated a Mouserat cover of ‘The Way You Look Tonight’ to April, and I didn’t cry… the first time. But I’m rewatching in preparation for the final episode, and seeing these two at the very start of things really got me. It’s like that part of Our Town when Emily goes back and looks at an ordinary day from when she was alive (IDK, spoiler? It’s from 1938). Things that didn’t seem big at the time were infused with meaning in hindsight. Try watching the little uncomfy, self-conscious look on April’s face right after seeing the scavenger hunt during The Pie-Mary when Andy jokes about April’s crush on him. It’s precious.

April and Andy get married {Season 3, Episode 9}

I love weddings. One of the things I love doing at weddings is looking at the groom as the bride comes down the aisle for the first time. It’s the look Andy has the moment he see his bride-to-be that kills me. Up to this point, Andy is the resident dumb-dumb, and April his Grumpy Cat girlfriend, but in this moment, they’re just a couple in love. And then they high five once April comes face to face with him, and you remember that, sure, they’re a couple in love, but they’re an awesomesauce couple in love. She hates everything but Andy, and he truly means it when he’ll protect her for the rest of their life.

“Let’s just say screw it.” {Season 4, Episode 8}

Leslie and Ben’s “forbidden” romance looked like it had finally come to an end when Leslie decides to run for city council and being in a relationship could put their jobs at risk. But this scene shows just how much Leslie had a gut feeling about her love for Ben – that she was willing to potentially throw her career away in order to get a great love with Ben. Leslie ‘I’m gonna work til I’m 100 then cut back to 4 days a week’ Knope was choosing love over her career. “Let’s just say screw it” held so much more weight for her than it would anyone else.

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*Fun Fact: the store I used to work at is right next to where they built the smallest park, and I creepily got to watch Amy and co. film not one but two eps there through the confines of the window (it’s the two-story building behind them in the clip!). This is the closest I got to taking a pic without the security guard taking me down.

Ben didn’t write a concession speech {Season 4, Episode 22}

Ben: Your victory speech, Councilwoman Knope.
Leslie: Someday, when I’m more emotionally stable, I want to read the concession speech you wrote for me.
Ben: I never wrote it.

Like previously mentioned in last week’s 5,000 Candles post, one of the best things about Ben and Leslie’s relationship is how much they support each other. They encourage each other to go for their dreams, and if it doesn’t go the way they planned, they’ll figure it out. Ben knew in his heart Leslie was going to win city council, and wouldn’t even entertain the idea she would lose. It’s the strong belief in each other that sets them apart and sets me off into tears.

Ben Proposes to Leslie {Season 5, Episode 5}

There’s a chance I was already near tears when Leslie was just looking around that room, and then more when Ben walked in, and then even MORE when Leslie said “what are you doing?” But her reaction – wanting to freeze and remember everything – was so beautiful and perfect and real. And the fact that the ring was in the box from the Knope 2012 button and the Washington Monument? Pow. Right in the tear ducts. Somebody go fetch Amy Poehler that Emmy she deserves, why don’t you?

The Entire Leslie and Ben episode {Season 5, Episode 14}

A lot of my favorite Parks episodes involve plans gone awry. So do a lot of my favorite life moments, when I think about it. There’s something so special about a small, quickly-planned wedding because two people just want to be married instead of a big, orchestrated affair because they want a wedding. So, you know, on concept alone we’re looking at some tears. Then Leslie and Ben’s friends pitch in by making a wedding dress, welding some wedding rings, awaking Ethel Beavers and stealing all of the other marriage licenses so that nobody takes Knope and Wyatt’s thunder. Even Jamm can’t ruin it (did I cry at that part? I can’t remember , but let’s file it as a “probably”). When the wedding moves to the Parks office, and Ron talks to Leslie in the hall, and Donna starts singing, and Ben makes his speech, and Leslie makes HER speech, I watched the entire thing through a heavy veil of tears. I love you and I like you.

Chris and Ann leave Pawnee {Season 6, Episode 13}

The entire Ann and Chris episode had me at a constant tear in eye situation, and then the moment we had been anticipating, when Leslie finally has to say goodbye to Ann, arrived and it’s just as heartbreaking and hopeful as you thought it would be. They exchange simple ‘I love you’, but in their faces, you can tell there’s so much more behind their goodbyes. I mean, just the gif of this makes me cry. And to make matters worse, you know that it’s really Amy and Rashida saying “goodbye” to each other IRL. I have a feeling the finale will be similar.

5,000 Candles in the Wind Reprise at the Unity Concert {Season 6, Episode 22}

After all their hard work to bring the people of Pawnee and Eagleton together, the Unity Concert finally happened. Despite the big act Land Ho! (Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy) being the main attraction, I love that Mouse Rat was the last band to take the stage to perform their hit 5,000 Candles in the Wind, which we last saw them perform together at Lil’ Sebastian’s funeral. But this time, as a viewer who knew the next season would be the last, a song about saying goodbye meant a great deal more. Combine that with everyone that was on that stage – Andy, Ben’s fave band Letters to Cleo, GINUWINE, a hologram Lil’ Sebastian and Duke Silver, who finally revealed himself to the rest of the Parks crew – and Leslie and Ben watching from the front row. It was pure magic.

Ron admits to Leslie he was going to ask her for a job {Season 7, Episode 4}

Does anyone remember that Chicken Soup For The Soul story (I mean I’m just assuming it was from there), where the kid got all pissy at his dad for giving him a Bible for a graduation gift, and stopped talking to him for years, then opened it and found … not sure. A check for a thousand dollars, or the title to a car or something. It was the saddest thing my little sixth-grade self could think of. But even now, one of the saddest things to me is when a person is trying to reach out in kindness to someone else, and the other person doesn’t know it. I spent the first episodes of this season wondering what could have POSSIBLY happened between Leslie and Ron. I assumed it was something work-related, but these two are a couple of softies. They’d never let something like their jobs come between them, it had to be more personal than that. It wasn’t even the conversation itself that got me, it was the idea of Ron spending years thinking that Leslie didn’t really care about him, and vice versa.

April has a heart to (back) with Leslie {Season 7, Episode 8}

Boys crying always makes me cry. So do generally unemotional people getting serious. April acts tough, but she loves Leslie and looks up to her. Like the scene when Leslie says goodbye to Ann, you watch this knowing that this show is about to end, and you’re watching a moment between two characters but you’re watching a moment between the two actors too.

5,000 Candles in the Wind: Pawnee OTPs

It’s week two of our month-long series dedicated to Parks and Recreation, and since we’re in the midst of RomCom Week here, we figured we’d feature the romantic side of this #blessed sitcom with the series’ best OTPs.

If you’re not into the Internet (I’m guessing if you’re reading this, you are), OTP = One True Pairing, or in basic terms, your favorite couple (usually of the fictional sort). Basically it’s the two people (or inanimate objects, whatevs) that you have an unhealthy obsession over their wellbeing together. These OTPs are ones we’ll miss dearly, ones we already miss, and ones that will live forever in our hearts.

Leslie and Ann

I ship Leslie and Ben as much as the next person, but let’s be real, one of the reasons that make Parks so special is Leslie’s independence as a woman. She’s a fantastic, strong, positive person on her own, and doesn’t rely on others to get shit done. But that’s different than enlisting the help of your friends and loved ones. Because of her generous heart, she has forged strong relationships with others, including the love of her life, Ben, and the other love of her life, Ann. Leslie and Ann’s friendship started off kind of work related, but it turned into this beautiful, brilliant, powerful musk ox of a relationship that is really unparalleled with other fiction female friendships on TV. They look out for each other, they support each other, they genuinely care for each other. They’re each other’s soul mates, and not even distance can tear them apart. Ovaries before brovaries, y’all.

Leslie and Ben

Before Ben came along, Leslie needed someone that was as smart or smarter than she was, who could handle previously stated independent woman qualities, and someone who would support her in any dream she dared to follow, no matter how big or how small. That’s what make’s their relationship work so well – no matter what they each go for in life, the other is right by their side. We saw it when Ben ran Leslie’s councilwoman campaign, and *potential spoiler alert* we’re most definitely going to see it when Leslie helps Ben run for Congress. Like Ben said during his vows, he had been to 46 cities in 11 years, but all that time, he was just wandering around, looking for Leslie.

Ben and Game of Thrones

I would’ve put Ben’s side piece of Calzones on this list, but ever since they betrayed him, idk if he’ll ever be able to trust them again. Who he can trust are all those GoT folk, like the Lannisters and Tyrions and dragon women and red wedding (I don’t watch it, can you tell?). Ben will gladly defend the show to anyone, since GoT is not just a “fantasy” show – it’s a show that tells human stories in a fantasy world.

Leslie and Joe Biden

As early as season two, we find out that Leslie has a gigantic crush on our nation’s Vice President. When Ann asks her what her ideal man is, Leslie responds, “He has the brains of George Clooney in the body of Joe Biden.” I mean, that’s just not an answer you hear every day. But it’s exactly the answer you expect Leslie Knope to say. By the beginning of season five, we see Leslie achieving one of her dreams, and meets big Joe himself. The brief meeting is enough to get us to ship Leslie and Joe if this whole Ben thing doesn’t work out (JK THEY WILL NEVER BREAK UP). Ben setting up the meeting with Joe (and also Leslie getting Ben the Iron Throne) are yet another reason to admire their relationship. They just love seeing each other happy.

Leslie and Waffles

Unlike Ben’s calzone betrayal, JJ’s waffles have never done her wrong. Not even a bout of the flu could take her away from her beloved round slabs of dough slathered in whipped cream. At one point JJ tells Leslie she spent over a thousand dollars (at JJ’s) on waffles alone. Some amazing person on Tumblr did some calculations and figured she had 4 to 7 waffles a week. I can’t even think of one thing I eat that many times a week. Maybe coffee. Yeah coffee.

Donna and her Mercedes-Benz

Donna may have found love in season seven, but throughout the series, she happily touts her flings with men. But her longest and most meaningful relationship might be the one she has with her beloved SUV. The above clip is when Leslie accidentally shoots her car during the gang’s hunting trip at Ron’s cabin, and her reaction pretty much sums up how she feels about it. In a full circle moment (and yet another testament of how much Leslie’s friends love her), Donna willingly rams her SUV into a truck belonging to the stupid owner of a van company who won’t handover the vans so that the gang can pick up senior citizens and drive them to a polling place to vote for Leslie. Donna selflessly injured her baby so Leslie could win!

Andy and April

Andy and April are one of my favorite television couples of all time. When Andy says something half-witted or April says something creepy and depressive, the camera never zooms in on their other half making a WTF face, which would be the approach of most sitcoms and, face it, most people. It shows them making googly eyes of affection, instead. Whether it’s Andy’s band or April’s dream of buying a haunted-looking racoon hostel of a house, they have each other’s back,  always see each other in the best light, and encourage each other to make those big crazy decisions.

 

Ron and Meat

Ron Swanson lives on his own terms. He hates government intervention, sentimentality, and fluff.  He calls vegetables “the food that his food eats” and tosses vegan bacon to the ground in disgust. If Ron Swanson had a tumblr – which he wouldn’t – it would be pages and pages of bacon memes and steak gifs. If Ron Swanson had a refrigerator, not only would it be full of meat, but the door would be plastered with pictures of meat, held up with meat magnets. And if Ron Swanson had a restaurant, the whole menu would be meats wrapped around other meats, and you’d pay through barter or maybe gold bars.

Chris and Dr. Richard Nygard

Dr. Richard Nygard is the Cathy Santoni (Full House) or Tino (My So-Called Life) of Parks and Recreation. He is Norm’s wife (Cheers) or the bottom half of Wilson’s face (Home Improvement). Nygard is the unseen, influential, constant presence in Chris Traeger’s life. In 50 years, when a student writes a college thesis about Parks of Recreation, they’ll claim that Dr. Richard Nygard represents God, or maybe Traeger’s inner life. Anyway, Chris loves that damn therapist. As a viewer, you can imagine anything you want about him. Personally, I picture an unlicensed whackadoo who rents the back room of a children’s dance studio in a strip mall, dispensing whatever advice was on Oprah’s Next Chapter that week.

Tom and Jean-Ralphio

If Leslie and Ann’s friendship grew on a mutual foundation of caring for their community and wanting to do the right thing, Tom and Jean-Ralphio’s grew on a mutual foundation of caring for themselves and wanting to make serious bank. And we love them. Tom and Jean-Ralphio are a couple of silly geese who pursue wacky business ventures and speak in even wackier abbreves. But they’re also two people who don’t quite fit into Pawnee culture, yet have these grandiose ideas of what they can turn Pawnee into. It’s like that quote about how love isn’t about looking at each other, but looking outward in the same direction. But they’d say that they’re looking “O.W. in the same direx,” and they’d half-sing it, and they’d be looking at a Baby Gucci wholesale outlet they built on the Eagleton-Pawnee border.

Lil’ Sebastian and The City of Pawnee

Every hometown has those weird cultural quirks that you can only truly understand if you’re from there. Ours, for instance, had a long-running waterfall laser light show about a man who died in that very waterfall while attempting to jump it with his pet bear (the bear lived). So you might think that Pawnee’s adoration for Lil’ Sebastian is over the top, until you realize that your city has its own weird obsessions. I swear, Leslie could have dined out for years on getting Lil’ Sebastian for the Harvest Festival. Even meat doesn’t make Ron smile as big as he did when surprised with a Lil’ Sebastian sighting. And that miniature horse’s funeral was a sendoff to rival Princess Diana’s. Sebastian may have been li’l, but his impact on Pawnee was anything but li’l. I like to think that Sebastian taught Pawnee how to love.

5,000 Candles in the Wind: Residents of Pawnee

Just when we’re drying up our happy/sad tears from the Parenthood series finale, we’re reminded that we’ve entered the final few weeks of another one of our beloved programs, Parks and Recreation. Because of the “brilliance” that is NBC brass, we’ve been counting down the last episodes two by two, and as we enter February, we only have seven left. In honor of that, we’re dedicating each Tuesday to Parks and how much joy it has brought to our lives over the past six years.

We start with the citizens of Pawnee – the people who make this small town in Indiana feel like a real town we would actually want to visit. We’ve met dozens of folks from this city – most of them a little off their rockers – but it’s what makes the show so great. With the likes of Perd Hapley and Coucilman Jamm and Lil’ Sebastian (RIP), we as viewers get a glimpse into what life is like living with these literal characters in Pawnee, and can understand why Leslie Knope has such strong feelings for her hometown. Pawnee may be fourth in obesity, but it’s first in friendship, and these residents are the prime example.

Joan Callamezzo

Favorite Moment(s): After singing Let’s Hear It For the Boy in a drunken stupor, Ben and Tom take her home, where we see she has a bunch of oil paintings up – of herself. Naked.

Why we’ll miss them: She’s the trainwreck you can’t stop watching. It’s like all the Jersey Shore castmembers rolled into one.

Where they’ll be in another three year time jump: Joan is busy promoting her 10th memoir, dedicated specifically to all the men who have given her STDs over the years. She takes Pawnee Today on the road to Los Angeles, but ends up miles from Hollywood in Sun Valley, in a studio next to a factory that makes sex toys. She ends up falling in love and ditches her job with Pawnee Today in favor of her new show – Porn Valley Tomorrow.

Orin

 

Favorite Moment(s): His performance art piece, where he’s acting as an animal living on a Human Farm.

Why we’ll miss him: He’s just so weird.

Where he’ll be in another three year time jump: A curator from the Indianapolis Museum of Art accidentally went to Orin’s Human Farm exhibit and ran into him again in 2018 at a mutual friend’s gallery called “Laser Snakes”. He offered Orin a curator job at the Museum, and he now seeks out performance artists from around the world. He’s still super weird.

Perd Hapley

Favorite Moment(s): Breaking the news of Leslie’s (non) affair with Dexhart in Christmas Scandal; his role as (not a real) judge in Perdple’s Court

Why we’ll miss him: How will we know when a scandal is supposed to be brewing now?

Where he’ll be in another three year time jump: Starring in the locally produced Western show, Howdy, Perdner! Also, the locally produced quiz show, Revenge Of The Perds. And the locally produced birdwatching program, A Perd In The Hand. Plus the locally produced children’s cartoon, Harold And The Perdple Crayon. Everyone agrees that he’s gotten a little carried away.

Greg Pikitis

Favorite Moment(s): When he unexpectedly turns out to be the boyfriend of Allison, the girl Leslie had been trying to recruit as a Parks intern.

Why we’ll miss them: He may be annoying, but he is never not interesting.

Where they’ll be in another three year time jump: He realized he had a soft spot for the government and went to Notre Dame for Political Science. He went on to work for President Hillary Clinton’s administration and is currently in the process of campaigning for Joe Biden’s 2024 Presidential bid – against Leslie Knope.

Bobby Newport

Favorite Moment(s): Behaving like a petulant boy prince during the city council campaign, then shocking us all by endorsing Leslie.

Why we’ll miss them: He’s a total weenie, but he’s also a member of the First Family Of Pawnee Sugar. Sweetums has brought so much joy – and so much diabetes – to so many.

Where they’ll be in another three year time jump: Moved up from Nougat to the Caramel Division; conducting a Wonka-esque contest to tour the Sweetums factory – winner scores a totally unpaid, full-time internship.

Ken Hotate

Favorite Moment(s): When he threatened to put a curse on the Harvest Festival, then “lifted” said fake curse by saying fake chants in Native American.

Why we’ll miss them: He may have seemed like the no nonsense tribal elder of the Wamapoke Native American tribe, but he had a really great sense of dry humor that he only really shared for the camera.

Where they’ll be in another three year time jump: Thanks to the economic boom in Pawnee, he was able to open another Wamapoke Casino. He still deals with crazy white people on the daily.

Ethel Beavers

Favorite Moment(s): Leslie drags Ethel out in the snowy cold to Ben’s house to read her statement. “Let the record state that I, Leslie Knope, love Ben Wyatt. I love him with all of my heart.”

Why we’ll miss them: She’s annoying old broad who tells it like it is.

Where they’ll be in another three year time jump: Ethel is still working as a stenographer for the town of Pawnee. After a string of lovers, it seems as if she’s finally settled down… with a cat. The men, yeah she’s still got them on rotation.

The creepy tattoo guy

Favorite Moment(s): He bids on Ann when Leslie puts a date with her up for auction, and he pitches a date which includes “taking her out to watch him do belly flops in the mud pit, then getting Thai food and a tank of Nitrous and seeing what happens”.

Why we’ll miss them: We don’t even know his name, but we don’t really need to to enjoy his creepiness (from afar).

Where they’ll be in another three year time jump: Still working at the pawn shop, but he added an extension to the store for guns and ammo.

Crazy Ira and the Douche

Favorite Moment(s): Basically every shock jock-y line they’ve ever delivered, such as “I know it’s a winter’s morn but it feels like a Summer’s eve… cuz The Douche is in the building!”

Why we’ll miss them: The best use of radio sound effects since the 1930s.

Where they’ll be in another three year time jump: After multiple FCC infractions and a boycott by Eagleton, they were dropped by their station. Like most people, they have a podcast.

Jean-Ralphio and Mona-Lisa Saperstein

Favorite Moment(s): Keeping Anna Nicole body spray alive, hoodwinking Henry Winler… honestly, these two never fail to turn our frizowns upside-dizzity.

Why we’ll miss them: They’re the best at being the wooorrrst.

Where they’ll be in another three year time jump: Designer meth (actually made out of designer-imposter perfume and baby powder). Prison sentence. Local home shopping show. Community service sentence (because of mismanaged funds for shopping show). Local reality show. Mona-Lisa has a baby. Wait. Mona-Lisa stole a baby. Then lost it at a rave.

Shauna Malwae-Tweep

Favorite Moment(s)Almost entering into relationships with Andy, Ben, Chris, and Leslie (as an Ann replacement in Galentines II)

Why we’ll miss them: Always comes up with the right headline.

Where they’ll be in another three year time jump: Editor in chief of the Pawnee Tribune; has hooked up with all active Pawnee council members.

Councilman Jeremy Jamm

Favorite Moment(s): As opposed to all the times we’ve previously seen Jamm be the one controlling others to get his way, he falls into the Tammy curse and Leslie and Ron have to work together to get him out of his crazed obsession.

Why we’ll miss him: We really won’t, but it’s those you hate that are the ones worth remembering.

Where he’ll be in another three year time jump: It took 2 years for Jamm to fully get out of his post-Tammy funk. He’s finally feeling like himself again, and his ‘You got Jamm-ed’ quota is up to 20 from 10 people the previous year.

Brandi Maxxx

Favorite Moment(s): Standing by Leslie after the bailout … because she was raking in the big bucks for her adult adaptation of the story, Too Big To Nail

Why we’ll miss her: Able to define pornography where Justice Stewart failed.

Where she’ll be in another three year time jump: Starring in an adult version of the National Park / Gryzzl deal, Jyzzlbox.

Lil Sebastian

Favorite Moment(s): When he used to be alive. Particularly, Ron Swanson’s face when he realized Lil Sebastian would be at the harvest festival.

Why we’ll miss him: Dead.

Where she’ll be in another three year time jump: Still dead. Sebastian was li’l, but now he is 5,000 candles in the wind.