Thursday, April 30, 2020

REVIEW: 'Parks and Recreation' - Leslie Checks Up on Her Friends While in Quarantine in 'A Parks and Recreation Special'

NBC's Parks and Recreations - "A Parks and Recreation Special"

Pawnee's most dedicated civil servant, Leslie Knope, is determined to stay connected to her friends in a time of social distancing.

In 2019, the television industry aired 532 scripted shows across numerous outlets. The way people consume content now is different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, it's less necessary to provide ample coverage of each episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site provides shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the special episode of NBC's Parks and Recreation.

"A Parks and Recreation Special" was written by Michael Schur, Megan Amram, Dave King, Joe Mande, Aisha Muharrar, Matt Murray & Jen Statsky and directed by Morgan Sackett

Across its series run, Parks and Recreation celebrated local public servants. It highlighted stories of the every day work that people in government do in the hopes of making the lives of average citizens better. Leslie Knope was fundamentally optimistic and eager to prove that friendship and determination can overcome any adversity. It's such a brilliant idea to bring the show back for this special at this particular moment in time. No one could have predicted the global shutdown that came from the coronavirus pandemic. Everyone has had to make significant personal adjustments to their lives. The role of government has taken on a new perspective. It has been required to offer the citizens clarity in these trying and scary times. Frontline workers are battling this disease and need the support from their communities and government. Everyone has a role they can play to ensure that the crisis doesn't grow worse. Leslie is enthusiastic about creating committees within the government and coming up with creative solutions for how to offer vital services to the public. She works for the Department of the Interior. Her husband, Ben Wyatt, is a congressman. In April 2020, they have risen the ranks within government. However, they are still looking out for the safety of their friends and their town of Pawnee, Indiana. It's such an uplifting story. Early on, it's clear that these characters haven't been handling quarantine well. In fact, it allows the show to follow up on a great joke from the past with Ben's obsession with claymation and the Cones of Dunshire. Leslie is concerned about his well being. That essentially inspires their campaign to get out the word for what people need to do to take care of themselves both physically and mentally. It's important to check in on one's friends. Distance may be agonizing. Leslie thrives on interacting with other human beings. On the other hand, Ron Swanson has been practicing social distancing from a very young age. He loves being left alone in his wood shop to create something by hand. But at the end of the day, friendship and compassion for one's community has to be the guiding principle that wins out. That is the celebration and focus of this special. It's miraculous that the entire regular cast returns as well as some notable guest stars. This was such a prominent series for their respective careers. It was clearly so much fun for them. Sure, it means the creative team has to come up with convenient excuses for why the couples within the show aren't actually quarantining together. That would make sense logistically. The actors are separated though - with the sole exception of Nick Offerman and Megan Mullally. And so, Andy has locked himself in a shed while April is just loving the chaos of wearing whatever she wants every day. Leslie is hard at work in the federal government while Ben is home with the children. Ann is in a separate part of the house from Chris because she has been helping out at her local hospital in Michigan. It's such an informative special about the efforts people need to do to stop the spread of the virus. It's a valuable fundraiser to help ensure Feeding America can help everyone who needs it right now. But it's also just funny. Sure, the burden of the story is placed a little more on Leslie, Ben and Ron. However, that works wonderfully well while allowing the other characters to come in for their jokes that build on the audience's nostalgia for the series. It further establishes that these are characters whose lives continued after the end of the show. They went on to accomplish many things. There are so many reasons to be afraid of the government and its lackluster response in this crisis. But this show continues to highlight the stories of those loyal career civil servants who keep the government functioning at all times and just want to make things better for the most people. They need support too. It's great that all of Leslie's friends rally around her in a time when she needs that direct interaction. So many of us need that too. This special plays to its strengths by knowing the national mood and allowing some brief levity in while donating to a great cause. It's absolutely perfect and makes me want to watch the entire series again for the millionth time. Yes, life can be difficult and exhausting. But there are ways to lift one's soul as well. This comedy long provided a sense of compassion and warmth. This special brings forth those same qualities as well. Those should be emanated outward to ensure that no one is left behind and everyone gets the resources they need.