Parks and Recreation has remained a consistently funny show long after its counterpart, The Office, stopped being funny at this point in its run. By the time The Office entered its seventh season it had become extremely hit and miss, and the misses were sometimes painful to even get through. But for fans of Parks and Rec, the show is still charming, fun, topical, and sweetly funny, even in the occasional lagging episode, which happens to every long-running network sitcom at some point.
Creator and showrunner Mike Schur is a writer who still wants to keep moving the ball forward for all of his characters, and the sixth season charged the series onward, with numerous life-changing events for Leslie Knope and the gang at the Parks Department in Pawnee, Indiana. In fact, the show may have suffered a slight lag in mid-season, only to ramp it up hard the last few episodes, culminating in a somewhat stunning cliffhanger that essentially aims to reboot the show for its seventh (and presumably final) season. But we'll get to that in a minute. The first part of the season was dedicated mostly to Leslie's recall election, which frankly felt like a bit of a repeat of her long campaign for office just a year previously. Chris Pratt was also missing for much of the first half of the season due to film commitments, and Andy's absence was explained by a temporary job in London, so things were feeling a bit shaky among the cast, although the core ensemble remained as strong as ever.
The other main storyline regarding Ann's pregnancy in the first half was necessary to facilitate the exit of Chris and Ann (Rob Lowe and Rashida Jones) mid-season, as they moved away from Pawnee before the birth of their child. I've never felt that Rashida Jones was much of an asset to the show, other than as a sounding board for Leslie, and my prediction that she would not be missed proved correct. Ever since Chris and Ann left I think the show may have even gotten funnier, since Retta's presence was increased as Donna, who does have chemistry with the rest of the cast and seemed to fill Ann's place with perfect ease. Rob Lowe was sometimes funny as Chris, but if his leaving was necessary to get rid of Ann, I say it's perfectly welcome.
Once those two were gone Leslie's big career move was put in motion. After being kicked out of office in the election, she was offered a job at the National Parks Department and pretty quickly found out that she herself was pregnant, and with triplets, no less. The idea of Leslie and Ben with triplets (and seeing Amy Poehler go through a labor episode) was gold, but in the surprising season finale ending, Leslie figures out a way to take the National Parks job while staying in Pawnee, thus reshaping their entire department, and all of a sudden, it's three years later and the office is up and booming big time. That's right, the kids are born and almost three years old, Leslie, Ben and the gang are now busy federal and not local government employees, and it looks to be a revamp of the series heading into its last year.
This is a risky move, to say the least, but Mike Schur feels it opens up a wealth of new material so as not to get repetitive, which was really the only problem starting to threaten the writing this year. Too many appearances by Councilman Jam and Tom's frenemies Jean-Ralphio (who I used to love) and Mona Lisa were starting to feel old, so this move may prove to be for the better. It's a bit reminiscent of when old sitcoms would make drastic location moves, like Laverne and Shirley moving to L.A. or when the Conners won the lottery on Roseanne. And let's face it, this kind of thing can often scream of desperation and usually not work out- but with Parks, it hasn't quite hit the same sort of lull those other shows did, and I'm actually kind of excited to see the brand new environment this dramatic time jump has set up (although I do wonder what this does to all the political and cultural references the show drops- it's always been a show set very much in our current pop cultural world).
And the finale itself was one of the best episodes of the season, even aside from the ending. It did feel a bit like a series finale, with the success of the Pawnee/Eagleton Unity concert, the opening of Tom's restaurant, cameos from several fan favorite recurring characters, and Ron finally revealing Duke Silver to the town publicly. Not to mention the amazing cameo from Michelle Obama, which shocked Leslie into hysterics on her and Ben's brief trip to San Francisco. Parks and Rec ends its sixth season on a high note and leaves us wanting more- which is much more than we have any right to expect from a show that's been on the air for six years now.