We’re All Grown Up: A Few Thoughts on ‘Parks and Rec’

By Adam Kramer   Feb. 24, 2015

 

Warning: Spoilers, Spelling Mistakes Because of Wine, TV Feels, Etc.

I don’t watch many television shows. My criteria for picking the few programing options that fall into my rotation has never been exact. I watched to be entertained—trying to fulfill the full range of desired emotions with little to choose from.

I watch The Americans for the perfected agony and awkwardness. I watch Justified for the characters and the way it satisfies my new-age Tombstone-loving ways.  I watch Bob Burgers for its ability to wind me down after a long day of screen watching. I watched—drawing in the agonizing usage of the past— Parks And Recreation because it made me feel really, really good about something—be it the characters or the task at hand—every single week.

I got drawn into the show on a mini-getaway. I was visiting a friend’s lake house, which was normally a post-college release of drunken stupidity. We were a little further out of college and starting to talk about getting old. So we watched some TV to balance out our dwindling drunken stupidity.

My friend requested I watch a show on a parks department—“Oh, the one with that dude and that mustache,” I said—so I caved. We watched an entire season, drank everything in sight and still talk about the pre-dad festivities now.

In many ways, that moment has always stuck with me. I was young, not married and didn’t have a child. Neither did the show, at least not then.

It was brilliantly written—just like always—but young and full of life. Over time, long after my lake house visits, it grew up. It had children. The characters grew storylines and found adulthood in different ways and at different parts of their lives. They got married, started families, grew out of their own post-college lives and found happiness in other arenas.

At this same time—paralleling this journey—I got married. I changed employment. I had a child. I grew up in sequence with the show. My friend is now expecting his first in the next few months. When the finale showed an obviously pregnant April get up from her table early on, I could feel my eyes start to swell as I looked toward my wife. She looked back at me in bewilderment, unaware of this personal realization. It was perfect.

The most emotion-less, youth-filled member of the show was pregnant and, just a little while later, would have a baby. Later on, she would point to her belly to signal more. More swelling.

With my baby monitor by my side and an enormous glass of wine in one hand, that hit a glorious nerve. The show, at that moment, felt like it was crafted to appeal to my interests and my interests alone. I’m sorry, you’re not involved.

Despite our unique paths, I imagine many of you felt the same way at various points of its existence—maybe the finale or another moment entirely. That’s a gift. I’ve tried to think of other programming moments that have accomplished a similar feeling and struggled to find anything close. It got me.

When it wasn’t coming through my television and refilling my wine, Ron Swanson was in his own park, celebrating a new job given to him by his best friend in a canoe on his own personal lake. More swelling.

That was damn beautiful. It was obvious, over-the-top, sentimental and downright perfect in its obvious scripting. The show excelled by embracing what it was: a place people could go for 22 minutes each week and feel good about.

It took chances doing so—enormous time traveling, caption-necessary chances—and it succeeded. We willingly bounced through eras because we trusted that we would end up in the right place. We saw wigs and bad bangs and submarines and grown children and so much more while embracing the journey. We accepted it because of course we did.

I had reservations early on in the season about the jump in time. When the finale did the same, I smiled. It was a bold way to end a bold endeavor, and the show pulled it off while making it look like it knew what it was doing all along. (That’s because it did.)

They ended at just the right time in just the right way. Each character found unique satisfaction and sanctuary, just like all of us. I will miss it dearly, and I hate to watch it leave. But never has a show ended at just the right time. This one did.

I don’t know where Parks ranks in my all-time programming choices; I don’t watch many shows. I do know that I left the finale on a television high, a kind of rare family room floating that will be hard to topple. And when I think back to the joy the show brought me—and the things I was able to accomplish while seated in the sidecar—I can’t help but leave it feeling really, really good.


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  • SuperContest Week 17 Picks: This is the End

    By Adam Kramer   Dec. 28, 2014

    I suppose the headline says everything that needs to be said. This is indeed the end.

    My first voyage into the Westgate SuperContest (courtesy of Odds Shark) will end with a whimper. Well, sort of.

    I’m out of the money and out of all levels of respectability when it comes to season-long picking. However, I did pull off a 4-1 performance in Week 16, and I’m hoping to close out the season favorably. This is what playing for pride looks like, but we’re doing it anyway.

    Before we look ahead at these “playing for pride” picks, here’s what happened last weekend.

    The lone loss came in truly horrific fashion. The 49ers, comfortably ahead, managed to slip on a banana peel against San Diego. Outside of this ugly one to stomach, the rest was quite positive. The Bears, Falcons, Cowboys and Bengals all covered, which was encouraging. It wasn’t enough to get me in the mix for the mini-contest, although, again, baby steps.

    With that out of the way, here are the final picks for Week 17. Even though it has not exactly gone my way, it’s been a pleasure to be a part of. Here are the five picks we’re ending with.

    Packers (-7.5) vs. Lions: I think a great deal of Detroit’s defense, but the loss at center and overall quarterback edge is why I’m laying the hook here.

    49ers (-6) vs. Cardinals: The great Harbaugh finale will end… on a high note. Although the head coach is out after this game, San Fran takes advantage of a rough QB situation with a victory.

    Bills (+4.5) vs. Pats: It’s an interesting situation for a game, one where motivation will certainly play a role. New England, ready for the playoffs, just squeaks past a very good Buffalo defense.

    Titans (+7) vs. Colts: Indy has not played well and Tennessee is eying an early draft pick. With all that on the table, the Titans stay close to the struggling Colts in the finale.

    Giants (-3) vs. Eagles: With the playoffs out of the equation, Chip Kelly and Co. go golfing. New York closes out the regular season with a win over its NFC East rival.


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  • SuperContest Week 16 Picks: All That’s Left to Do

    By Adam Kramer   Dec. 20, 2014

    We’ve reached the “play for pride” portion of the program. Perhaps it was only a matter of time.

    My first run in the Westgate Super Contest—courtesy of Odds Shark—has been a roller coaster of sorts. Much of the time, however, I’ve spent trying to climb upward only to full hopelessly down.

    As a result, the last two weeks are really all about finishing up. There will be no prizes handed out my way, nor should there be. I just have not gotten it done.

    Last week, in many ways, was a summary of how things have done. I had the Bills over the Packers—a lovely little win—although the rest didn’t add up. Miami, despite closing in at half, was eventually blown out. The Titans, despite leading late, gave it up to the Jets. The Eagles and Redskins capped things off by throwing up duds, which is the appropriate word to describe my recent stretch.

    But we are not done yet. Although my contest hopes are up in flames, there are still two weeks left and winners (hopefully) to be picked.

    And as long as the Odds Shark super computer is still making picks, well, I’m going to do the same. Here are the Week 16 picks. Fade—and I mean fade—accordingly.

     

    49ers (-1) vs. Chargers: At some point, it’s going to come together for San Francisco. That point may come next season with a new coach, but I believe we’ll see signs far earlier than that.

    Bears (+6.5) vs. Lions: Betting on Jimmy Clausen is akin to playing that knife game from Aliens. What a horrible, misplaced idea, but when it works, oh does it work. Bears keep it semi-close-ish. 

    Cowboys (-3) vs. Colts: Even with Demarco Murray banged up, this brand of football may not matchup well with Indy. I look for the Dallas offensive line to do what it does and the Cowboys to win by a touchdown as a result.

    Falcons (+6.5) vs. Saints: In a game that could inexplicably have playoff ramifications, I like Atlanta to put up a good enough fight. It’s hard to predict how both will respond, although I believe the Falcons’ offense is the difference.

    Bengals (+3) vs. Broncos: Oh, get your Peyton Narrative-ometers ready. Playing for their playoff lives, however, I think the Dalton Narrative-ometers stay quiet. The Bengals get a surprise win with this very short line.


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