As Parks and Rec returns for a coronavirus special on Thursday, it's become even more apparent that the show's political optimism wouldn't survive in today's world, says Sady Doyle. "It seems ludicrous, looking back, that we ever believed life could work like Parks and Recreation," says Doyle. "The NBC sitcom, which aired from 2009 to 2015, was much beloved in its day — hailed for its 'brilliant, confident liberalism' and relentless idealism, a show in which optimism was cool and hard work led to 'happiness and success and achieving great things.' Those 'great things' came mostly to the titular Parks and Recreation Department of Pawnee, Indiana, where a team of good-hearted public servants, led by the passionate and over-prepared feminist Leslie Knope (played by Amy Poehler), looked past their ideological differences and worked tirelessly in the name of the public good. It is exactly the sort of scenario one absolutely cannot imagine in the America of 2020. It says something that showrunner Michael Schur’s next sitcom, The Good Place, took place in the afterlife yet seemed more realistic than Parks and Rec. Now Knope and co. are returning once again for a 30-minute reunion special, to air on NBC this Thursday." As Doyle points out, the political world has changed dramatically since Parks and Rec signed off in February 2015. "Since 2015, politics has been demarcated as a vicious sport for vicious people," says Doyle, also noting that Leslie's feminist crush, Joe Biden, is now being accused of sexual misconduct. "There is a hole in Parks and Recreation’s moral universe, and it grows more evident every year," says Doyle. "The show revels in the radiant liberal optimism of Leslie Knope — but, like Leslie herself, it refuses to account for human evil. In Parks and Recreation, the people of Pawnee can be stupid, or weird, or misguided, but — with the exception of librarians, who are pure malice in human form — they are almost never bad...Over and over, when trying to explain human malice, Parks and Recreation whiffs and presents a story about nice people making mistakes."
TOPICS: Parks and Recreation, NBC, Amy Poehler, Jim O'Heir, Joe Biden, Nick Offerman, Coronavirus, Trailers & Teasers, Trump Presidency