Watched the final episode of Parks and Recreation, and it was really fun. The episode is built around a series of flash forwards that allow you to see what the characters get up to in the next few years (spoiler alert, they’re all happy forever). And when the episode was ending, I found myself getting surprisingly emotional. My feels did seem out of place for me. I mean, I liked the show, but I didn’t like it more than I liked, for instance, Scrubs, and yet I feel like I got way more emotional at this series finale than I did at that one. Part of it might have been that I wasn’t sure, until the end, whether this was really the series finale or not, since I thought that the final season had 13 episodes (turned out that this double episode was both ep 12 and 13). Thus, the ending of the show kind of snuck up on me.
Other explanation is that my emotions have been closer to the surface recently. However, I feel like I’ve been saying that exact line–“My emotions are closer to the surface right now”–for so long that I’m starting to think I’m actually just a more emotional person nowadays. A frightening thought. Maybe one of these days I’ll become one of those people who feels actual human sadness when a celebrity dies (as opposed to the purely notional and completely unfeeling sadness that celeb deaths normally evince in me).
Parks and Recreation was a really good show. Wholly optimistic. Not dark at all. And one that loved and respected its characters. In most shows, unsympathetic characters tend to be humanized, so that by the end you love them. However, in comedies especially, sympathetic characters often suffer the opposite fate. They become overwhelmed with so many quirks and idiosyncracies and foibles that you start to hate them. I know that Scrubs and How I Met Your Mother, for instance, kind of suffered this fate. By the end of the show, you’d just seen these characters behave in so many unfeeling ways and act so selfishly and whine at such length that, even though each individual incident was explainable and forgivable, their sum total was such as to make you kinda dislike these people.
Parks and Recreation somehow avoided that. Its characterization of Leslie Knope was masterful. I have no idea how they managed to make her so funny and so competent. That was the case with all the characters. They were funny, but they also knew their shit. That’s amazing. I guess workplace comedies sometimes manage that. For instance, I recall that the lawyers in Ally McBeal were pretty good lawyers. But I think it’s surprising because Parks and Rec was about such a bland office and such a bland town and such a bland profession that it would’ve been so easy to go the other way with things. And, in fact, that’s what they kind of started to do in the first season. But then they switched courses and made something amazing. So, you know, kudos.