Parks and Recreation

Wayne State Univ. Mar. 2023. 128p. ISBN 9780814347881. pap. $19.99. TV
Holladay (media theory, Missouri State Univ.) presents the workplace TV sitcom Parks and Recreation as a well-preserved time capsule of the aughts and the optimistic but gridlocked era of the Obama presidency. It’s presented as a prime example of an evolving media and culture in this impersonal but interesting study of a cult TV show. Premiering in 2009, the show was intended as a follow-up to NBC’s wildly successful mockumentary The Office. It struggled with poor test screenings and consistently low ratings, so much so that every season finale was written as if it could be the show’s final episode. However, Parks ultimately lasted seven seasons, relying on stellar writing, the cast’s tight performances, and showrunner Michael Schur’s vision. Holladay focuses on the show’s sociocultural commentary, evidenced by the idealism of feminist Leslie Knope (played by Amy Poehler), her clashes with her libertarian boss Ron (Nick Offerman), and her belief in the importance of government programs. Parks eventually eclipsed the small screen with its Pinterest boards, fan fiction, and streaming options all converging in new participatory opportunities.
VERDICT Limited appeal, as it’s strictly a study of the show’s take on government and its ability to remain relevant. It’s not a homage to the characters or episodes.
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