In an attempt to beautify her town, Leslie Knope takes on what should be a fairly simple project: help turn an abandoned construction pit into a park.
(Summary of Season 1, Episode 1.)
Leslie Knope, Deputy Director of the Parks and Recreation department in Pawnee, Indiana, is a woman on a mission: make her city better. She’s helped by her oddball coworkers, other people who work for the city, and random friends she makes along the way.
Amy Poehler as Leslie Knope
I knew Amy was an excellent comedian, from seeing her on Saturday Night Live, but Leslie is a whole other level of hilarity. Amy’s timing is spot-on, her facial expressions are hilarious, and her ability to make a terribly awkward, uniquely eccentric character like Leslie both endearing and admirable is so, so good.
Nick Offerman as Ron Swanson
Before watching Parks and Recreation, I had no idea I would actually like Ron. I assumed that he was going to be more of a trope character, the unlikeable boss type that seems to pop up in sitcoms on the regular. Thankfully, Ron is an amazing character with a lot of depth, and Nick brings him to life so amazingly. Honestly, I’m not sure I’ll be able to watch anything else Nick does without thinking he should be Ron instead. And that dimple!
Aubrey Plaza as April Ludgate
Is there anyone better at playing a sullen, semi-emo, hipster-type than Aubrey? I think not.
Chris Pratt as Andy Dwyer
I knew that Chris beefed up and slimmed down for his role in Guardians of the Galaxy (and subsequent other movie roles), but it was really amusing to see him a bit pudgier and, well, slobbier as Andy. And although Andy’s not exactly leading man material, there are glimpses of the movie star to come in many scenes.
Aziz Ansari as Tom Haverford
As annoying as Tom can be, you need this kind of character in an ensemble show. I’m pretty sure if I had to spend more than a day with him, I’d want to punch him in the face, but I’m not the most patient of people. I really hope Aziz isn’t like Tom in real life.
Jim O’Heir as Jerry Gergich
Although Jim’s been acting professionally since the mid-1990s, I don’t remember seeing him in anything until Parks and Recreation. That apparent ability to go unnoticed works so well in the role of Jerry, who is likely the nicest—yet least liked—member of the department.
Retta as Donna Meagle
Donna is a total boss. Although she’s not in the show as much as she could—or should?—be, when she does make an appearance, her reactions are always priceless. I want to be friends with Retta, on the off chance that she might be even a little bit like Donna in real life.
Rashida Jones as Ann Perkins
To be honest, as sweet as Ann is, she bores me. She’s way too normal to stand out among this cast, which I’m sure is the point, but she’s so far eclipsed by everyone else that she just seems like an outlier. Rashida plays her well … but I’m not sure that’s exactly a compliment in this case.
Adam Scott as Ben Wyatt
Full disclosure: I’ve only just finished the second season of the show, so I’ve only just met Ben. I know there are great things to come from him in the future, and Adam’s portrayal of the rigid, no-nonsense character with a not-exactly-secret heart of gold is already endearing. I only remember seeing Adam in one other thing—playing the dickish boss in The Secret Life of Walter Mitty—so seeing him play a good guy should be fun.
Rob Lowe as Chris Traeger
I find it so delightful when Rob plays a ditzy hot guy. And, well, Chris is totally a ditzy hot guy.
Although the above actors are the main cast members, there are a myriad of other guest stars and cameos throughout the show’s six seasons, too.
Couch-Sharing Capability: High, With a Catch
My husband and I started watching Parks and Recreation while on vacation—we walked all day, and when we got back to the apartment we were staying at, all we wanted to do was crash with a fun show. Neither of us watched the show while it was actually airing on TV, but we’d heard time and time again how great it was and how much we’d love it. Turns out: Everyone was right. Although he and I have different tastes when it comes to some shows, we totally agree that this one is right up both of our alleys.
All that to say, this is a perfect show to watch with friends and loved ones, but only if they have a similar sense of humor. Because if you like Parks and Recreation, which I think you will, you’re not going to want some fuddy duddy being a wet blanket.
Recommended Level of Inebriation: Low, the First Time Around
Parks and Recreation is filled with hilariously understated humor and blink and you’ll miss them jokes, so it’s important to bring your a-game while watching. However, if you’re not like me and watching the series for the first time, the series is absolutely ripe for a drinking game. But that’s another post entirely.
Use of Your Netflix Subscription: Knope-tastic
I’ve said this before, but I will continue to repeat myself because it’s so true: The best thing about a Netflix membership is being able to watch movies you might never of heard of or TV shows you might have missed the first time around. Parks and Recreation is so delightful, it makes me smile just thinking about the episodes we’ve watched and all those we have yet to enjoy. Now, if only Netflix could get me some time off work, or a few extra hours in each day during which I could escape to Pawnee, that would make my subscription even more valuable.