Parks and Recreation is ending next week. Though I refuse to admit that it’s all coming to a close, I’d still like to take this time to reflect on my personal favorite moments. This is more of a quiet protest on my part to prove that no other comedy series out there deserves your love and attention. So, to further entice you, I am going to share my ten most treasured memories of this comedic gem of a show. Whether you’re a fan or not, my hope is that this list will get you to revisit these episodes or finally check out the show for yourself, and maybe tune in for the finale next Tuesday or whatever. Shall we begin?
- “Everything hurts!”
At the start of season 5, Andy is determined to become a police officer. But he quickly realizes he’s in over his head when buddies Chris Traeger and Tom Haverford try to whip him into shape (the irony here is that Chris Pratt is in ridiculously good shape now, so to see him struggling here is a unique pleasure). The effort alone leaves Andy perpetually exhausted, and upon completing a mile he immediately takes off his clothes and drops to the floor saying, “Running is impossible.” No truer words have ever been said.
- Snake Juice
Snake Juice is the monkey wrench that disrupts the well-oiled machine of Leslie and Ann, and the results are spectacular. That, plus seeing everyone else completely smashed is an added perk. Ben Wyatt’s reaction in particular just seals the deal.
- Leslie Meets Joe Biden
We all know of Leslie’s bizarre crush on Vice President Joe Biden. So when she finally gets to meet him, a gift courtesy of her hubby Ben, the scene is nothing short of amazing. The moment could’ve been overdone or fallen flat entirely. Thankfully, the writers, Amy Poehler, and Joe Biden himself, savor every awkward second of it. Check out the full clip here.
- Treat. Yo. Self.
Season 4 introduced us to the brilliance of ‘Treat Yo Self’ Day, where Tom and Donna spend an entire day, you guessed it, treating themselves. Together, they create a melody of riffs that’s equal parts ridiculous, hilarious, and just plain genius. If ‘Treat Yo Self’ Day ever becomes a thing, you’ll know where it began. Witness history in the making here.
- Entertainment 720 Printing Press
Entertainment 720 is Tom Haverford and Jean-Ralphio’s baby, a wildly ambitious passion project that’s also fully decked out for no apparent reason. I’d be lying if I told you what the company is exactly because I’m still trying to figure that out. Nevertheless, Tom and Jean sell it mercilessly in both pitch and execution. Look no further than their printing press, yet another lavish expense on their part (their employees’ salaries reach upwards of $100,000). To put it simply, they are hemorrhaging money, a conclusion that Ben, a.k.a. Jello-Shot, can easily see at first glance. He tries to shut everything down, but instead hits a kick-ass party contraption that literally brings the house down. If 720 were still alive, I’d seek their services. To do what, I’m still not sure, but I’d hire them anyway.
- Literally Anything with Jean-Ralphio
The man is a legend. Among the show’s huge palette of guest stars, he is indisputably my favorite. I did not know the name of Ben Schwartz going into the show. But I do now, and I will forever remember him. What began as an extension of Tom Haverford’s character has blossomed into a hairspray of energy and enthusiasm. Whether he’s singing, rapping, or trying to pitch crazy business ideas, the guy leaves me in tears. Jean-Ralphio, you are the man.
- April & Andy’s Spur-of-the-Moment Wedding
What makes April and Andy so special is that they enhance each other from the moment their lips finally meet. They don’t meld into one obnoxious character; they retain every bit of their peculiar personalities. And the show wastes no time in establishing their very unique love for each other. Look no further than their surprise wedding (Season 3 – Episode 9, FYI). April’s words to Andy are exactly as you’d expect from a deadpan character such as herself: “I kind of hate most things but I never really seem to hate you.” The tossing of the dead dove at the end is an appropriate icing to an already well-layered cake.
- Burt Macklin
Chris Pratt is a national treasure. The same could be said of Burt Macklin, Andy Dwyer’s FBI persona who occasionally makes an appearance whenever there’s a case that needs solving. And when Macklin’s on the job, he makes it abundantly clear. I can’t tell you which Burt Macklin moment I love in particular because I adore any chance we get to see him. Here’s just a taste of how slick the guy is. Side note: nothing can beat those sunglasses.
- Ben’s Proposal
One of the many great things I love about this show is the way it handles romantic subplots. The writers effectively build tension between characters, and either get right into evolving the relationship, or deconstructing it to smithereens. Luckily, Leslie and Ben’s relationship is part of the former. Ben’s proposal comes just as a crucial decision needs to be made: Leslie and Ben have agreed to move in together to commemorate Ben’s homecoming after a long campaign stint in D.C. Then, he gets offered another job. Will he stay? If he does, what does this mean for their long-term plans? Oh, the questions! And just as we’re wrapping our heads around an entire season of Leslie and Ben apart, he shows up in their house, on one knee, ready to commit to their future. Turns out, they just needed to make one more step before beginning a new chapter in their lives. If you didn’t tear up or at least smile during this heartfelt scene, then you have no soul. The feels man, THE FEELS!
- Get On Your Feet
In season 4, the entire Parks & Rec department makes a bold move: they decide to launch Leslie’s campaign as councilwoman from the ground up. They get put to the test when they stumble across an array of obstacles. The venue is slightly different than they expected, and the materials they need to decorate the place have been scaled down. But does this stop them? Not a chance, though it dwarfs them quite a bit as they slowly inch across an ice-rink to get to a half-built stage dressed beneath a fraction of Leslie’s campaign banner. This scene wonderfully symbolizes the triumphant spirit of the characters altogether, showing how far they’re willing to go in the name of their fierce and unwavering leader, Leslie Knope. And they do it, slipping and falling along the way, made even more hysterical with the juxtaposition of Gloria Estefan’s classic, “Get On Your Feet.” When I think of Parks and Recreation, I think of this because it sums up the hilarity of the show in one scene alone. This is, hands down, my favorite moment. See for yourself.