It’s finally here, the day that I’ve been dreading, and I feel like I have to say goodbye to my own beautiful tropical fish.
Tonight brings the series finale of one of my all time favorite shows, Parks and Recreation, after seven blissful seasons.
The series has been knocking it out of the park, Breaking Bad-style, so far killing its final 11 episodes leading up to the two-part finale.
In honor of the series ending, I thought I’d look back at some of my favorite heart-warming and laugh out loud moments.
Of course, if I shared all of my favorite moments, it could fill a small book, but for the sake of brevity, I’ve narrowed it down to a list of ten of the best gifts from Parks and Recreation.
10. Li’l Sebastian
Li’l Sebastian is the famous miniature horse beloved by all in Pawnee, but most importantly, by Ron Swanson (Nick Offerman). He first appears in Season 3’s “Harvest Festival” as the team – minus Ben (Adam Scott) – goes wild at the tiny star’s arrival. Sadly, Indiana loses a hero when the little guy passes away in the finale of that season, causing Ron to utter: “I have cried twice in my life. Once when I was seven and I was hit by a school bus. And then again when I heard that Li’l Sebastian had passed,” and Andy (Chris Pratt) to write the work of art that is “5000 Candles in the Wind.”
9. Johnny Karate
Andy had always been a delightful, childlike presence, and while he happily put himself into whatever job he was working, never did he shine more than on his children’s program Johnny Karate. Combining music, karate, and teaching lessons to children, the show is everything the tenderhearted musician could hope for in a job, and that we as an audience could have hoped for in an episode, when NBC gifted us with The Johnny Karate Super Awesome Musical Explosion Show.
8. Jean-Ralphio’s raps
While he seemed to irritate all of the residents of Pawnee (minus Tom) with his singsongy voice and over the top personality, and rightly so, my night was always made a bit brighter once Jean-Ralphio (Ben Schwartz) appeared onscreen. One of the best appearances occurs in one of my all-time favorite episodes, “The Fight,” wherein he raps to Ron, Leslie, and Chris.
7. April Ludgate’s attitude
The sardonic, sarcastic, dark-humored April Ludgate, played wonderfully by Aubrey Plaza will always be one of my favorite characters. From the way she handles Ron’s phone to her scowls at the camera and insistence that she’s a witch, I’m obsessed with her “lively and colorful” personality. Who wouldn’t fall in love with a character who would deliver such beautiful vows: “I guess I kinda hate most things, but I never really seem to hate you. So, I want to spend the rest of my life with you, is that cool?”
6. One of the most hilarious moments on TV
In the eleventh episode of season four Leslie (Amy Poehler) appoints Ann (Rashida Jones) as her new campaign manager, as Ben focuses on stop motion films and calzones in his depression from losing his job, following the revelation that the TV darlings were dating. Before Leslie finally decides to ignore the judgement and choose shamed partner Ben as her campaign manager, she uses her faithful parks crew to help her relaunch her tainted campaign. Unfortunately, things don’t go over all that smoothly.
Despite being a master craftsman, Ron can only do so much after improper licensing leaves them with about a quarter of the lumber they had needed to build a stage. Meanwhile, the rec center they’re using wasn’t turned over from an ice skating rink, and Tom (Aziz Ansari) only brought enough red carpet to reach halfway across the ice. The group hoped that Gary (Jim O’Heir) would fail to come through on his part, but unfortunately this time he didn’t, bringing at least a hundred people to witness the failure.
The worst (or, in the case of the audience, best) part is, as the group – along with three legged dog Champion) struggles to make it out across the ice and onto the tiny stage, Gloria Estefan’s “Get On Your Feet” plays. Try to watch that clip and not laugh.
5. “The Fight”
One of my favorite episodes of television ever is Parks and Recreation’s episode thirteen, season three, “The Fight.” Leslie and and Ann get into a fight over 1) Leslie obsessing over Ben, but refusing to pursue him because of work rules, and 2) Ann not preparing for a job interview Leslie got her. However, what makes this episode fantastic is Tom’s venture of the moment, Snake Juice.
With the exception of Donna (Retta) – who is on a cleanse – and Chris (Rob Lowe) – who thinks “literally an ounce of that would kill him” – the entire staff gets absolutely smashed on the “Kahlua-style liqueur.” The entire episode is a joy, but possibly the best part is that it gifts us with the most amazing five seconds of Ron Swanson dancing.
4. Ron Swanson’s Pyramid of Greatness
Another one of my favorite things is the Ron Swanson Pyramid of Greatness, filled with such gems as: “Crying: Acceptable at funerals and the Grand Canyon.” Of course, I also firmly believe that Ron Swanson, the character, is now one of the most iconic characters in television, as played by the hilarious and talented Nick Offerman.
3. Treat Yo Self
Clothes. Fragrances. Massages. Mimosas. Fine leather goods. Treat. Yo. Self. In season four, episode four, Tom and Donna first introduce the glorious concept of Treat Yo Self, a day unbound by restrictions of finance or logic. And even better, the dynamic duo bring along poor Ben, as he struggles to get over his breakup with Leslie, treating the audience to a glimpse of the lovable nerd in a movie quality Batman suit.
2. Galentine’s Day
I’ve already written about my love of Galentine’s Day on this blog, so a description for this one should almost be unnecessary. Kind-hearted, thoughtful friend Leslie planned a whole holiday to honor her female besties with crafts, breakfast foods, and mimosas. What’s not to love?
1. Leslie Knope
There aren’t enough words to describe the inspirational, hardworking, unfailing optimist that is Leslie Knope. She may be a fictional character, but she’s as good an idol as any, with her determined work ethic, sincerity, and empathy for everyone around her (well, except maybe Gary… and librarians). She would do anything for her friends, and took on her government work with the same loving focus. I know that I can access her accomplishments and missteps on Netflix (and my copies on DVD), but I’ll still miss my TV idol visiting me each week via my television screen.
Goodbye Parks and Recreation, you beautiful, rule-breaking moth.
Until next time,