We took a break.
We got busy and we were tired and we all have demanding jobs and excuses, excuses, excuses.
There was a time when this blog didn’t exist at all and a time when we weren’t writing as regularly as we all do now and it would be easy enough to stop and go back to that. But we all decided to not let that happen. Taking a break is one thing but letting something good just fizzle out would be a true disappointment.
The last episode of Parks and Recreation aired last week with little fanfare, the same way the show existed for most of it’s run, undeservedly so. I did not love the last episode. I found it maudlin, treacly, a little too neat and tidy (spoiler: we get to see everyone’s future and they all live happily ever after) and I wished it had been funnier. I wished it had been more like the episodes of Parks and Recreation that I do genuinely love – the ones in the office, where Leslie Knope is an unwavering positive force in this otherwise soul-sucking bureaucratic environment. Except it’s not as soul-sucking as it could be because Leslie loves her job and she’s surrounded by her very silly friends and co-workers. It’s crucial that Leslie not think, never think, it soul-sucking.
I’ve written before about my love of shows about good people. I like when writers and performers and directors find a way to make good and nice people interesting. Leslie Knope is a good person and she is sometimes (not always) a nice person. She’s also a feminist and an overbearing and fiercely loyal friend. The writers and creators of Parks and Recreation figured out fairly quickly just exactly who Leslie Knope was (in those early, not so good episodes, they did not seem to know) and the show benefitted enormously from this discovery. I think what I love about Leslie Knope most of all is that SHE knows exactly who she is. Leslie grows through the course of the show but she doesn’t change. She gets frazzled and sometimes angry but she doesn’t back down from her enthusiasm for her job and her work. Throughout the course of the show one thing becomes abundantly clear: nothing can stop Leslie Knope. She does not give up.
Watching the finale I was struck by the fact that, although I didn’t think the episode was all that great, I loved what this episode and the show as a whole has always been trying to say: that there is this thing about working with and succeeding with a team, whatever that means to you, that can give you the greatest joy. That finding a place for yourself, the right place for yourself, in the world can often happen somewhere unexpected. That loving what you do is not always easy and demands hard work. Despite the similarities early on, this wasn’t The Office where the person running the ship was largely oblivious to the task at hand and where getting any real work done was almost entirely accidental. Parks and Recreation celebrated work and teamwork and said that these things were essential to success. The show said that good work is its own reward. Good work often goes without fanfare. These things are not often said on TV. These things are not often said at all. Maybe because these things seem so obvious. And Parks and Recreation said these important things with jokes!
Parks and Recreation is not my show even though I like it a great deal (my sensibilities align far more with 30 Rock and I think Tina Fey can basically do no wrong). My friend Katie loves Parks and Recreation and has delightfully written about it on this very blog. That makes me happy. The show reminds me of her whenever I watch it. The same way I’m reminded of Jane when I watch Community. Or, Raph when I watch anything after 3am (this never happens because I’m tired but that doesn’t stop me from thinking about Raph). They’ve all written about these things on this blog. They’ve shared that happiness with me and with you. I love reading about the things that people love. I love talking to people about the things they love. I love the way people’s voices and faces change when they talk about something that they are legitimately excited about. I love noticing that change, too, in people’s writing. Nothing makes me happier than genuine enthusiasm. And that’s what I want this blog to be. A little like Leslie Knope and Parks and Recreation in that way, if that’s even possible. And, yes, I do realize now I’m being treacly.
Raph has called this blog a celebration and I think that’s the greatest compliment. Even when we write about a show we don’t like very much we are still writing about something we love. This blog is not our job but we put in the work because we love it, because it makes us happy, because we are a team.