One of my favorite shows, Parks and Recreation, is in its seventh and final season this year. The newest episodes started airing in January, and they are being broadcast two at a time, until the series finale on Feb. 24. While this means that the 13-episode season will be over incredibly quickly, at least this gives Parks one last chance to churn out major plots that will hopefully satisfy long-time fans like myself.
The most significant change in the final season is that the show is set in the future. Ben and Leslie have triplets, Leslie is working for the National Park Service’s Midwest branch based in Pawnee, Tom runs a successful restaurant, and Donna is chilling but has a serious boyfriend (Keegan-Michael Key, one of my favorite comedians). Instead of focusing on topical, current jokes, the time jump gives the show the ability to do whatever it wants. Most importantly, it provides a natural way to show audiences what will happen to this town and to the people we love. It is the future, so anything goes (and most things can be quite ridiculous).
Parks is a mockumentary, similar to The Office, and at its core, the show is about local government in a small town in Indiana. Because of this style and the tone set in the first season, it is very easy for people to become invested in what happens to these characters.
One of the greatest things about the show is that it was never afraid to have a lot of heart, which is maybe not the most exciting virtue in TV these days. I am thankful that people saw potential in this show, enough that it was able to last even this long. Co-creator Michael Schur actually had to write season endings that would double as series endings for seasons three through five.
I am incredibly excited to see Donna finally settle down, to see Tom’s Bistro as a successful business venture, and to see what Andy and April do to keep their young married lives interesting. I think that setting the show in the future was a brilliant move. It was a bit jarring at first to get used to, but now all I care about is what is going to happen next, who will come in and cause trouble in Pawnee, and how Leslie will save the day. Instead of being open-ended about what happens to their characters, I believe that now the show can tie up loose ends and give the audience what it wants.