Bye Bye, Little Sebastian

Bye+Bye%2C+Little+Sebastian

After six amazing seasons, Parks and Recreation has finally come to an end. It was the source of a seemingly infinite amount of memes and medium transcending holidays like Galentine’s Day and Treat Yo’ Self, but it was also sweetest “smart sitcom” on television.

Though Parks and Recreation was often hilarious, its most unique quality was its kind treatment of its characters, whose deviances into the absurd never left them feeling less than human. Too many sitcoms fall victim to flanderization, where a single character trait is exaggerated more and more every season for laughs until it consumes any semblance of complexity. It’s a symptom of the lazy writing that comes from a tired premise whose plotlines have been exhausted.

The show seemed to get better and better every season. While the first and second seasons sometimes seemed uneven, the cast solidified during season three, and it became one of the best comedies on television. On the schedule, it was often paired with 30 Rock and The Office, but the cringe humor common on the latter never quite transferred over. Instead of making fun of how awful people could be, Parks and Recreation inserted humor into storylines about improving the world around you.

But Parks never shied away from evolution. Characters were allowed to grow from their mistakes, and any archaic will-they-or-won’t-they formulas were disposed of in a season, ensuring that the show never hinged on two characters. Instead, it hinged on one – Leslie Knope, Amy Poehler’s idealistic public servant whose love of Pawnee, Indiana was dwarfed only by her desire to improve it.

Poehlor, who cynically portrayed Hillary Clinton with Tina Fey on SNL during the 2008 election cycle, is an unlikely candidate to play an optimistic public servant. But her total embodiment of the character has left her name synonymous with the well meaning humor typical of Parks and Rec.

In the last season, the show took the bold step of catapulting the characters into 2017. This allowed for a lot of gags about the near future, but it also gave the characters a melancholy tinge that never let us forget it was one of our last times watching. Though framed as a short season, season seven was really more like one long final episode.

In the penultimate episode, we learned about the 5 Karate Moves To Success. Build something, learn something, karate chop something, and try something new. In many ways, these represent the philosophies at the core of Parks and Rec, whose quick humor never quite hid the optimistic kid’s show hiding underneath.