Treat Yourself

What's more sad: Losing a show that had real promise after one short season, or coming to grips with the ending of a wonderful show that's had a good, long run? I don't have the answer to that question, but whatever it is, there's no question that it's tough to say goodbye to Parks and Recreation. I told myself that I'd watch the episodes in order, so I almost didn't make it to Season 2. There's no polite way to put it: Season 1 sucked.

But then, something happened that almost never occurs. The show took steps to fix its problems, and the network (NBC of all people!) gave it time to grow. By the end of Season 2, Parks & Rec had really come into its own. And ever since that time, it has been appointment television for me. By the end of Season 4, it had become my favorite show of the year. Season 5 and Season 6 were similarly awesome, though they didn't reach the peaks that Season 4 did.

There's something to be said for knowing in advance when a final season is coming up. You don't have to worry about renewal and you don't have to set up any cliffhangers. You can just spend the last batch of episodes tying up all the loose ends, and trying to give your characters a worthy sendoff. And boy, did Parks & Rec ever deliver on that.

We remain a few years in the future for the whole season, which sets up all sorts of fun jokes about what life is like in 2017. But where this show always shone is in its ability to find humor in situations without becoming nasty or jaded. It sounds like a slam to call a show "nice", but Parks & Rec is probably the nicest show in the past five years. It takes a real interest in its characters doing their best to govern the town of Pawnee well, and rewards them for their efforts. Though they spar often, their affection for each other is genuine and palpable. And it's still so, so funny.

Standout episodes (besides, well...all of them) in this last season include "Ron & Jammy", "Leslie and Ron", and of course, the outstanding finale, "One Last Ride". All three focus less on plot events, and more on the relationships that have made this show such a delight. It will always stand out as a terrific example of a comedy that could be funny while going for the heartstrings, rather than for the jugular, and that sort of entertainment is becoming all too rare.

Parks and Recreation - Season 7: A


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