I recently began a Netflix adventure of binge-watching “Parks & Rec.” I’ve tried in the past to get into the show, but until recently I wasn’t a fan . However, this time , I realized that Leslie Knope is the grown-up version of myself.
“Parks & Rec” isn’t only a hilarious show, it’s also revolutionary. In the past, popular shows seemed detached from reality and didn’t touch on important issues. Watching the show, I found myself noticing jokes that touched on political issues quite cleverly.
For example, Leslie’s best friend, Anne, decides she wants to have a baby. In television, it’s very rare that characters take on an unconventional parenting role. Anne is a single nurse who decides that she wants to be artificially inseminated, which is definitely a new concept in TV.
Many other characters take on roles that in the past would have been quite scandalous. One couple that makes a frequent appearance involves a prissy, overtly Christian woman and her flamboyant husband. The irony of the situation is that they speak out frequently in support of abstinence-only sex education. With this pair, “Parks & Rec” knocks out two birds with one stone: they address the issue of gay people being suppressed and forced into relationships where they act straight, and the issue of abstinence-only education.
In the past, there may have been some jokes here and there about those issues, but characters in this show take the time to have a meaningful, insightful dialogue about them.
Another revolutionary character is the man himself, Ron Swanson. Ron is the epitome of masculinity: he eats copious amounts of meat, has a killer mustache and refutes anything that could make him appear weak. My personal favorite trait of Ron is that he is a devout Libertarian. In the past, shows may suggest that their characters are either Republican or Democrat, but Ron Swanson is the first Libertarian character who lives those values.
Ben, Leslie’s husband, begins working at a non-profit organization where he is spoiled with exquisite dinners and works in an office almost entirely made of mahogany wood. Immediately, Ben starts cutting back the non-profit’s spending to allow money to be spent towards their charities. It’s often reported that non-profits are spending money inappropriately when that money could be used for charity. This is an issue that’s rarely discussed, but “Parks & Rec” manages to discuss and dissect it clearly.
Overall, I think “Parks & Rec” is a revolutionary show which discusses political and social issues in a way that makes even the most absent-minded viewer aware. There are numerous other issues that are touched on throughout the show’s existence which may be addressed in both big and small ways. It’s a tragedy that the show has been cancelled, but hopefully Netflix will save the day and buy it.