Parks and Recreation is ending tonight after seven seasons. It’s one of my favorite series. It’s a go-to series to put on when there’s nothing else to watch, and if you ask JC, you’ll find out that I’ve actually memorized lines from some episodes.
I wish I could say this was one of these series that I watched from the start and immediately fell in love with. It wasn’t. I remember watching the first season and being so disappointed. I didn’t love Leslie; I found her annoying. I hated Tom. Andy was just awful — why would Ann possibly date him? They were a couple that lacked any chemistry whatsoever. And Ron Swanson? Well, he made no impression at all.
I stopped watching for the second season, insisting all those reviewers that said it got better weren’t in their right mind. But in a sweet turn of fate, I started watching Party Down that year. I grew attached to Adam Scott. And in my sadness in discovering I had two short seasons of that show and nothing else, I discovered Mr. Scott was turning to an NBC favorite. He was joining Parks and Rec.
I started watching season three and never looked back. No, that’s not true. I looked back just this past weekend, when we officially started the series from the beginning (my habit was to start at the last two episodes of season two, Adam Scott and Rob Lowe’s first appearances) to see how bad those episodes really were. I now admit: I was wrong. They weren’t terrible. They weren’t the Parks and Rec I now know and love, but knowing what the show would become, they were suddenly better. And season two was even better than the first. And the show just kept improving since then (well, except for any episode centered on Councilman Jam; I’m still not a fan of those).
Now tonight we’ll say good-bye to Pawnee, Indiana, and the group of misfits that came with it. But before we sign off, let’s look at some of my own favorite memories.
Snake Juice: I should save this for last, but come on, it’s just too awesome. So let’s start with one of the funniest moments on the show, particularly Ron Swanson’s dancing.
Leslie tells Ben she loves him: I’m a huge Leslie/Ben fan, and this moment is just so sweet.
Leslie and Ben’s wedding: And so was their wedding. ‘Nuff said.
The rolling bachelor party: Not only does Ben win points for having a bachelor party that includes board games, but I just loved how they went around to do one bachelor activity for each of the guys on the show, all ending with a great football game on the Colts field. Really, it was just fun.
Leslie’s breakup stories: Leslie had a number of these clipped lists, and this one is by far my favorite. Ann’s reactions are great, but the stories are even better. (Sorry for the low quality, folks.)
Treat Yo’Self: It’s a day for Tom and Donna, and it’s fantastic. We didn’t get too many scenes where the two were just by themselves, but this gave us the opportunity — and it highlighted their unique (and awesome) personalities.
The Harvest Festival: Ok, let’s take a break from Leslie and Ben and move on to some other folks. The Harvest Festival might be my favorite episode. It had Li’l Sebastian, a curse (with that little animated news story), and Andy admitting he loved April — “That’s what makes the sauce so awesome.” Overall, fabulous episode.
Bye bye, Li’l Sebastian: Not only was the Harvest Festival great, but let’s get down to Lil’ Sebastian. No, I don’t love that he died, but man, do I love that song. And ok, it may be called “5000 Candles in the Wind,” but I remember it only as “Bye Bye, Li’l Sebastian.” (Honorable mention goes to “Catch Your Dream.”)
Duke Silver: Ok, perhaps this isn’t a “moment,” but I love it. What other show could possibly make a sax-playing icon out of someone like Ron Swanson? Kudos.
All of Ben’s accounting jokes: You have to feel bad for this accounting firm, but as a punny girl myself, I loved the puns. I also loved…
The Low Cal Calzone Zone: Crazy, unemployed Ben was great. And I’m a fan of calzones. But really, this is just a side step to…
Ben afraid of cops: Seriously, this. Not just his admission, but the look and behavior around cops is just hilarious.
Tom’s apartment: This was in a brief cold open, but when Leslie stops by Tom’s apartment and Ann shows her around — all the blankets, coconut water, and warm thermostat. It’s so perfectly Tom and so perfectly women all at the same time.
The flu, the first time: The flue hits Pawnee, and Leslie refuses to let it bring her down. Meanwhile, April is being a monster to Ann, and Chris is just face down on the floor. This entire episode comes together so well. “You had me at meat tornado.”
Ben’s proposal to Leslie: It was so simple yet beautiful. They didn’t need any over-the-top moment. You always knew how great they were. And that moment was just perfect for them.
Harris Wittels: I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the great Harris Wittels, who died recently, even if he’s not a “moment.” From what I’ve read, he was a great contributor to the show, a great comedian, and just a great talent. So whether it was his writing or his brief appearances as an animal control guy (or a man requesting a topless park), it’s certainly something that stands out as one of the greats.
So there’s my list. I’m sure the minute I post this, I’ll remember some more. After all, Andy, Tom, and Ron are woefully underrepresented in this list, let alone others. But really, if I were to take that much of a dive in, I’d probably have to list every single thing Ron Swanson has said. Perhaps you can do that — and share any other favorite moments — in the comments.
So long, Pawnee. We’ll miss that tiny town in Indiana, with all its glorious parks (even the smallest one).
Pawnee: First in Friendship, Fourth in Obesity.