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How Big Government Ruined Parks and Recreation

Predictable ideology has made the show about as entertaining as a health code referendum.

by
Spencer Klavan

Bio

August 21, 2014 - 8:00 am
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It’s official: Parks and Recreation’s love affair with big government has ruined the show. Over its six seasons (which I admit I binge-watched like a strung-out coke fiend), Parks and Rec has devolved from incisive comedy into aggressively unfunny propaganda.

When we first met her, the show’s central character, Leslie Knope, was a masterpiece of observational humor, a lonely career bureaucrat with delusions of grandeur and a fetish for protocol. She was over-the-top, but at the same time anyone who had ever navigated the infuriating upper echelons of the DMV or city hall had met someone exactly like her — chipper, litigious, and maddeningly disconnected from reality.

The fun they made of her was genius. The pilot’s opening scenes showed her shoving a sleeping drunk out of a playground slide while declaring, “It’s a great time to be a woman in politics.” Her bright-eyed interviews were expertly undermined by intercut depictions of the meaningless drudge work that defines a job in small-town government. Poehler’s humorless smile, her expressions of officious solemnity, were masterfully executed — mockumentary at its finest.

Then slowly, slowly, the creative team let their inchoate political theories eclipse their comedic sense of truth. The creators had started out with fly-on-the wall research at real-life city council meetings, insightfully mocking the morass of self-importance and illogic that results when people get together to plan other people’s lives for them. But as that experience faded from memory, the writers replaced it with a dogmatic fantasy world based on the unexamined conviction that everyone needs a hyper-attentive government mommy. That’s when Leslie Knope became a hero, and Parks and Rec became about as entertaining as a health code referendum.

Top Rated Comments   
SNL stopped being humorous when it decided it couldn't mock Obama.
8 weeks ago
8 weeks ago Link To Comment
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"Over its six seasons (which I admit I binge-watched like a strung-out coke fiend),"

And you say that with no shame, as if it were perfectly okay for a man to behave that way....

7 weeks ago
7 weeks ago Link To Comment
Is the "Parks and Recreation" hero-worship of Joe Biden the most pathetic, nauseating form of regime-sucking hero-worship ever? That, and their eternal, incessant harping on that tired old tune, "I am woman hear me roar, strong women, role model, men are wimps, yadda yadda yadda."
7 weeks ago
7 weeks ago Link To Comment
A much better portrayal of this type of character was the BBC's Brittas Empire. I suspect that Parks and Recreation was an unacknowlegded rip off of that show.
7 weeks ago
7 weeks ago Link To Comment
So, the show hits the toilet right around the time that they write Mark (the "normal guy" of the cast) off of the show. I guess I'll stop watching once I hit that point.
7 weeks ago
7 weeks ago Link To Comment
We were down to two TV programs a year ago. They both eventually went Left and so we left. We no longer watch any television nor will we "Try" any new programs. TV is over. The Left destroyed it the way they destroy everything they touch.
7 weeks ago
7 weeks ago Link To Comment
Glad somebody else noticed this! The thing that really got to me was how the townspeople started to be portrayed as stupid, violent yahoos, almost like they didn't deserve Knope's enlightened leadership.
7 weeks ago
7 weeks ago Link To Comment
SNL stopped being humorous when it decided it couldn't mock Obama.
8 weeks ago
8 weeks ago Link To Comment
Glee went the same way. It started out as very entertaining, with the songs and the show being the primary feature, with undercurrents of inter-personal stuff.

Then, after the first season the focus reversed, with homosexuality, teen pregnancy, trans-gender and other concepts taking center stage. I haven't watched it since.
7 weeks ago
7 weeks ago Link To Comment
SNL stopped being funny back in the 80's.
8 weeks ago
8 weeks ago Link To Comment
Actually, SNL stopped being funny when I stopped getting high...that it was the 80's when such occured, is mere coincidence
7 weeks ago
7 weeks ago Link To Comment
Pawnee is racist.
8 weeks ago
8 weeks ago Link To Comment
Spot-on analysis, Spencer!

My oldest daughter got us to watch the show on Netflix, and my feelings were identical. I had caught episodes of later seasons and watched a few minutes, but was always turned off by the obvious and preachy nature of the writers' Progressive vision.

The first couple season, though, almost seemed to make fun of that vision, and I really like Ron Swanson! But, I knew things were going down hill with the episode that skewered Sweetums, and by the last couple seasons, Leslie had begun to espouse the Obama-ism - "No one succeeds on their own." Uh huh, full blown collectivism.

Hey, but what do I know? I'm just some dumb hillbilly in flyover country who's too stupid to groom himself properly. There's no way I could read between the lines with such masterfully written screenplay to deduce the implied message of creeping crypto-socialism. Right?
9 weeks ago
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