Monday, 14 March 2011

Parks and Recreation: Redifining the Workplace Mockumentary as We Know It

Reader, are you watching Parks and Recreation? Short answer: you should be. Long answer: if you're not, you're missing out on a show that has taken the once-funny Office-style mockumentary and "de-cynicalized" it (no, that's not a real word. Don't use it in essays) to maximum comedic effect.

I just came across this excellent review of the show's current (third) season. Like the reviewer, I didn't really like the pilot of this show very much. It seemed like Amy Poehler (who I love) was playing an unfunny female incarnate of Michael Scott on his more awkward days, only in a different setting. The first season improved upon the pilot, with a couple of really funny moments, but was generally uneven. The second season, however, was a whole other story. From the premiere, it seemed like the writers had a better sense of the ensemble potential, anchored of course by Poehler, as well as a strong sense of how the show works differently from The Office. Where The Office uses (used?) Jim as the cynically comic straight man to Michael Scott's optimistic insanity, Parks and Rec eliminates the need for such cynicism by making Leslie Knope an eternal optimist, but not as cluelessly out of touch as Michael. The result, as the above review says is that "it creates comedy, which is not to be confused with satire, out of workplace optimism".

I could gush for pages about my new favorite TV comedy, but the review says it much better than I could. Let's just say that that Parks and Rec has hit its stride in a major way. I hope you're watching it!

1 comment:

  1. So true. The sunny tone works for the show and shows that you don't have to mock your characters to have a funny show.