Parks and Education


By Camron Owens

The beloved comedy “Parks and Recreation” is currently in the third week of its final season on NBC. 

Since it premiered in 2009, the show, which follows the life of a local government bureaucrat and her colleagues in the fictitious city of Pawnee, Indiana, has gained a devoted fan base and adoration from critics. 

As we say goodbye to Pawnee, I thought it was only fitting to take a look back at the various lessons the show has taught viewers in its seven seasons.

Every (three-legged) underdog has its day.

The show itself is a testament to underdogs everywhere. When “Parks and Recreation” first premiered, many people, myself included, felt that it was going to be a knock-off of “The Office” because of its mockumentary-style delivery. However, after a few seasons and some tweaks in the show, “Parks and Recreation” gained mass praise and 11 Emmy nominations. Along with critical acclaim, it also helped launch the careers of people such as Chris Pratt and University alumnus Nick Offerman. Just like the name of April and Andy’s dog, the show is a Champion.

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We are all capable of changing the world — or at least a small Midwestern city.

The main premise of the show is that Leslie Knope is a driven and ambitious government worker set on making her city great. However, the citizens of Pawnee are not always open to change. Despite the hardships that Leslie faces and the exaggerated ignorance displayed by those in her city, Leslie continues to fight for what she believes is right — and, in turn, makes Pawnee a better place. As Leslie perserveres through various comedic hardships, she serves as a perfect role model for us all.  

Teamwork makes the dream work.

Most of the characters on “Parks and Recreation” have failed in some way. There’s Ben, the failed teen mayor, Tom, the failed businessman and Andy, the failed musician/police officer/shoe shiner. However, despite their failures on their own, together they are able to achieve success.  

All of the characters have some flaw, whether it’s insecurity, lack of common sense or being haunted by an insane ex-wife. Despite these shortcomings and their vast differences, they are able to rely on each other to accomplish large tasks. From harvest festivals and political campaigns to touching tributes for beloved miniature horses, “Parks and Recreation” is a constant reminder that teamwork can lead to positive outcomes. 

There is no question in life that Ron Swanson can’t answer.

One of the greatest accomplishments of “Parks and Recreation” might be introducing the world to a character by the name of Ronald Ulysses Swanson, the libertarian parks department director. Throughout the show’s run, Mr. Swanson has taught audiences memorable lessons on life, love and food. Even Leslie seeks out his guidance in tough situations. Without this character, how would we know what haircuts are acceptable for men or that crying is only permitted at funerals and at the Grand Canyon? Even though we may not always agree with Ron’s views, I’m sure we can all learn something from his immutable attitude and woodworking skills.

Breakfast food are the best(fast) foods. 

If there’s one underlying message the “Parks and Recreation” writers seem to have been conveying to viewers, it’s that breakfast is the best meal of the day. In fact, it’s one of the only points that pro-government Leslie and anti-government Ron agree on. Even if you have an early class and have to eat a quick breakfast, waffles, bacon and eggs can be enjoyed at all times of the day.

Treat yourself. 

As Pawnee entrepreneur Tom Haverford says, “Sometimes you gotta work a little, so you can ball a lot.” Even the hardest workers in Pawnee’s Parks Department know that it is important to relax every now and then. As hard working college students, I’m sure many of us can agree. Whether it’s a game of “Cones of Dunshire” with friends or enjoying a nice meal at Tom’s Bistro, it is important to have fun in the midst of hectic schedules.

Go out on a high note.

Much like Pawnee music artists Mouse Rat and Duke Silver, “Parks and Recreation” always strives to end on a high note. At a time when many comedies overstay their welcome, “Parks and Recreation” will end as what many consider “TV’s smartest comedy.” Because the show has faced fear of cancellation almost every season, most of the show’s season finales also work as series finales. Now, however, the team behind the show is able to end it on their terms. After an ambitious shift in the show at the end of last season, the writers will surely give the show a memorable and fitting ending.  

I will never forget the lessons learned in Pawnee. It is with a heavy heart that I say bye-bye, “Parks and Recreation.” You’re 5,000 candles in the wind.

Camron is a junior in LAS. He can be reached at