Wednesday, October 19, 2011

parks and non-wrecks

I had a very important epiphany yesterday, about why I love Parks and Recreation so much. I was reading this Ironing Board Collective post about New Girl, a show in which three normal guys suffer the hijinks of a zany girl who, if she existed in real life would be 1) totally dysfunctional and/or 2) really hurt by the crap they say to her.

This is the premise of a lot of TV shows and movies, although usually it’s a guy being immature and a boring, normal woman enduring him. So, um, score one for feminism? And of course there are the shows where all the characters relentlessly sling insults at each other: Two and a Half Men, 2 Broke Girls. Occasionally the insults are irresistibly witty, but mostly…I can resist.

So here’s why Parks and Recreation is great: The characters aren’t always nice to each other, but they care what their peers think, and when there’s conflict, they react the way actual humans would. Recently* Ann spent most of an episode trying to get Ron and April—the show’s resident antisocial employees, who still aren’t cruel; they just want to be left alone—to make small talk. She finally succeeded when she told them a grisly story from the hospital where she works.

The main characters are slightly wackier than most you’d meet in real life, but they’re mature(ish) and competent. Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler) is a wonky feminist who loves her job and the historic murals at City Hall. Ben (Adam Scott) is a geeky accountant, but he doesn’t wear his pants up to his armpits or have trouble making conversation. Chris Traeger (Rob Lowe), with his manic positivity and love of health food, is pretty much a carbon copy of my chiropractor.

No one has to be the long-suffering straight man because no one has to be the hate-able manchild. Everyone is a little of both, just like in real life. So watch it.

*Maybe not recently. AK and I watch P&R on Hulu, where recent and three-year-old episodes live in timeless harmony.

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