Rec Center

Towards the end of last year, I declared that Season 6 of Parks and Recreation was and would continue to be on my top 5 list of the best TV I'm currently watching. At the same time, I admitted that this is a show on a clear downslide. Its beginning drew a lot of apt comparisons to The Office, so let's make one more: Parks & Rec is still a good show, but it's time to wrap it up gracefully before it overstays its welcome and becomes insufferable like its big brother. I'm pretty sure the producers know this, and it's likely that next season will be the last. I don't want to give the impression that I dislike the show now, or even find it disappointing; like I said, it's still good, and I still enjoy watching it. It's just that it doesn't seem to have much more to say about any of these characters.

To that end, a lot of Season 6 is about big changes. Leslie's recall vote is only a drop in the bucket. A lot more focus is directed towards the merger of Pawnee and their snobby Eagleton neighbors. Ann and Chris decide to leave Pawnee. Tom starts a restaurant. And...stop reading now if you don't want to be spoiled...Leslie becomes pregnant with triplets as she considers taking a job with the federal parks department, which would mean leaving the town she's spent guiding for so long. All of these storylines are handled well, though I defy you to name an example of a TV show that got better with the addition of babies.

This show has mined a lot of humor in skewering American politics, and though there's still a fair amount of that, Season 6 is much more about interpersonal relationships than workplace situations. Never before would they have devoted so much time to what Leslie thinks of Donna's tweeting practices, or whether April thinks Tom has what it takes to run a successful business. Strong writing saves it from being too twee, but there's no question that it's a different show than the one that I initially fell in love with in Season 2. This season was also big on secondary and tertiary characters. In some cases, it was done masterfully (any scene with Jean-Ralphio and/or Mona Lisa Saperstein was gold), and in some, they went to the well way too often (Billy Eichner's Craig is something of a one-note character, and they struck it over and over and over and over and over and over).

That said, there were some stellar episodes: "Doppelgängers", "The Cones of Dunshire", and "Anniversaries" all showed Parks & Rec firing on all cylinders. The show took its biggest turn in the season finale, "Moving Up". (Seriously, stop reading if you don't want to be spoiled.) All of those big changes I mention above are nothing in comparison to the final scene, in which time jumps ahead three years. Leslie has taken the position with the federal government, though she and Ben have convinced them to relocate the office to Pawnee. Her triplets skipped infancy entirely, and are now toddlers. Michael Schur has stated that next season will pick up right where we left off, so good-bye, 2014! It's officially the future. That opens up all sorts of fun possibilities, and I'm looking forward to seeing where they take it.

Parks and Recreation - Season 6: B


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