Last Tuesday, the final episode of Parks and Recreation aired. All through college, I had numerous friends telling me I should be watching this show, but it wasn’t until this fall when I found myself living in a house where I was the only person who hadn’t seen at least the first couple of seasons that I really started to watch it. I finished season six last week, and quickly marathoned through the final season. I was crying as I watched the finale. I’m not someone who has followed this show for years, but I’ve really enjoyed watching it and getting to know these characters, and I’m sad to see them go, especially the strong female characters. As I’m not the only Daily Geekette writer who loved the show, I invited some other writers to share in a farewell to the women of Pawnee.
Leslie is the protagonist of Parks and Rec, and if I’m being honest, it took me a little while to warm up to her. Leslie is like the Energizer Bunny of city government: earnest, energetic, and determined to help people, as much as she can. She is ambitious, a little bit awkward (most obvious when she’s meeting personal heroes like Joe Biden or Madeleine Albright), and if I met her in real life, I would probably be a little bit scared. But I also think Leslie is amazing. To me, Leslie is exactly the kind of person I would want working for the government, be it in elected positions, or as a civil servant. She is motivated and truly cares about her work. And now that I’ve watched her grow for seven seasons and am no longer so scared of her, I would probably want to be her friend too. Leslie Knope, you are awesome, and you will be missed. I guess we’ll all just have to eat waffles on our own now.
Ann Perkins was probably the character I identified with most from the start, because I mistakenly assumed she was the more “normal” person on the show (let’s not even get into why I was craving a “normal” character to identify with). I was wrong. Ann is very quirky, and over the course of the show and her friendship with Leslie, she not only accepted that quirkiness, but embraced it. My assumption wasn’t completely false, though, because in comparison to a lot of the other characters on Parks and Rec, her humor and quirkiness can be a lot subtler. Ann made a lot of strange, seemingly spontaneous decisions, but (most of the time) they seemed to work out well for her. In season five she decided she was ready to have a baby, regardless of the fact that she was single, just because she’d decided she was ready. That decision ultimately led her to her very happy relationship with Chris Traeger, but when she first made the decision, everyone (including Leslie) thought she was making a terrible mistake. Ann Perkins may not have always been the most confident of the bunch, but she was still very clear about what she wanted, and when, and usually not afraid to stand up to anyone about that, even Leslie.
Office manager turned realtor, Donna Meagle, is truly a diamond in the rough. Whether it’s her quick, witty quips, her insight into her very active dating life, her “tech-savvy” nature, or her sassy attitude, Donna’s character never disappoints. One of the most intriguing things about Donna Meagle is the fact that, like her husband Joe says in the episode “Donna and Joe,” you learn new things about her every day, or in our case, episode. From her social media obsession and her Treat Yo’self outings with Tom to her single-life antics and her undying love for her Mercedes, Donna never fails to bring laughs to Parks and Rec’s devoted viewership. The most important part of Donna’s character , however, is her incessant strength and confidence that she carries with her throughout the show. Donna is just one of the many definitions of a strong, independent woman, and she doesn’t hesitate to let everybody know it.
From very early on in my viewing of Parks and Recreation, April Ludgate has been my favorite character. Her apathy represented the general public’s perception of the millennial generation, but in a way that was funny and relatable to younger viewers, rather than being presented as an exclusively negative trait. April’s development presented itself as a search for not so much purpose but desires, and something to care about. However, throughout the entire show, she never lacks agency. She’s influenced by the people she loves, especially Andy and Leslie, but she always makes decisions for herself. By the series’ end, she is exactly the kind of public servant that Leslie always wanted her to be, while still maintaining her sense of self. She’s not a Leslie-clone, but career-driven and with a sense of purpose that relates to helping people. Though there are many memorable April moments from the run of the show, one of her most emotional episodes was “The Johnny Karate Super Awesome Musical Explosion Show,” which centered around the filming of the last episode of Andy’s kids TV show of the same name. April spends the episode feeling guilty that Andy is quitting a job he loves so that she can advance her career, but in the end Andy confesses that he’d rather make sacrifices for her than the other way around.
Geekettes, what are you going to miss from Parks and Rec the most? Let us know in the comments below!