Parks and Recreation
Season 6, Episodes 21 and 22
In the season finale of Parks and Recreation, everyone is “moving up”, just like the title suggests. Leslie leaves the Pawnee Parks Department and takes a job with the National Parks Department, Tom opens up Tom’s Bistro, and Ben is suddenly cool in the least cool way possible. (The super dorky, super complex board game that Ben invented, “Cones of Dunshire”, has become an unexpected hit.)
Not only are our favourite characters moving up in the world, but the town of Pawnee is moving on as well. With the Unity concert, the town celebrates it’s past victories and solidifies its communal spirit after a rocky merger. Ginuwine sings a salute to Lil Sebastian. Other rockstars sing a tribute to Lil Sebastian. Basically everyone bonds, once again, over that magical miniature horse.
The episode, while funny and entertaining, was mostly your average feel-good Parks and Recreation finale. Until the last minute and a half.
It’s been a while since I was excited to write about Parks and Recreation. Over the course of seasons 4-6, I’ve enjoyed regular smiles and chuckles while watching my favourite residents of Pawnee, but it was the kind of enjoyment felt when eating at your favourite restaurant. You know what you’re going to order, you know what it will taste like, and you will probably forget about your meal by the next day. I haven’t felt surprised by Parks and Recreation since April and Andy’s wedding in season 3. In those last minutes of “Moving Up”, when the camera zoomed out on the photo of the “ol gang” to reveal a bustling national parks office, three years in the future, I felt as energized as I ever have while watching Parks.
The writers made a very smart move by jumping three years into the future. We skip over all that boring pregnancy and child-rearing and skip directly into a very intense, very interesting moment. Leslie and Ben rush their triplets off to Aunt April and Uncle Andy, step into the elevator and are on their way to meet some “very important people.” In those few small actions, we realize that Leslie and Ben are both successful, they are both mentally managing parenting three young children, and they still have a close relationship with two of their best friends. Work, family and friends. Everyone still has perspective on what is important. But in those last few moments, the show emphatically shifts away from being a relationship-based sitcom and reminds the viewer that Parks and Recreation is, and always has been, a workplace comedy. Yes, family and friends are important, but the show is named after a Department for a reason. It’s time for Leslie to fill in the pit or build the park, on the national scale.
While I wouldn’t implore new viewers to watch this episode, (the episode may not be a good introduction to the series) I do suggest that new viewers (or old viewers that dropped off in the last couple of years) keep an open mind about season 7. If “Moving Up” is any indication, I have a really good feeling that the show will be funny and fresh next season. And since it is likely that season 7 will be the last for Parks and Recreation, there is every reason to expect that the creators will take risks and surprise us, just like they did with this season finale.