Parks and Rec As A Sit-Com?

When I first heard about the show, I thought it might be a comedy based on some of the real-life comedic situations that parks and rec public servants run into and how they deal with them. And it isn’t far off that mark … the scenario of the abandoned lot is feasible. But somewhere the plot takes a very negative turn.

The writers seemed to unearth every negative stereotype applied to government service and imposed them on the characters. Instead of a balance between satire and reality, it appeared to me overwhelmingly satirical and negative. Understanding that these are stand-up comedians and Hollywood actors in the cast, it still could have been produced with better balance.

Out Of Touch With Reality

It makes me wonder if the producer and director actually consulted with any real parks and rec people or public administrators on this. It could have been so much better had the show been balanced. Many credible shows have “technical liaisons” from the subject area to make sure they’re depicting enough reality to make the presentation believable.

For example, the folks who produced Major Dad in the 1980s continually consulted with the Marines to ensure they accurately depicted Marine Corps life. This was a show about a gung-ho Marine major who marries a feisty woman journalist with three daughters, with all the culture shock on both sides as they get comfortable with their new roles. The show was well-cast with Gerald McRaney as the Marine, Shanna Reed as his wife, Polly, and talented young actresses as the girls. The characters were well-developed and realistic, with believable relationships among the cast. The show was a big hit for several seasons.

If the parks and rec show had consulted with experienced parks and rec professionals or public administrators in the field, I have to believe they would have obtained a more realistic–but still funny–result. Maybe they did consult with someone, but either they didn’t take the advice or didn’t get worthwhile guidance.

I wonder if some or all of the writers on this new show had bad experiences with parks and rec people when they were kids. Maybe they were kicked out of camp for misbehaving, and this was their way of finally getting back at that camp director. Or maybe they didn’t make the select soccer team and blamed it on the condition of the fields, and this is what those parks and rec people deserved for ruining their chances at soccer stardom.

Perhaps the next sit-com they work on should be about people who sit around and come up with crazy ideas for sit-coms or “mockumentaries” … it could be therapeutic.

But, just my opinion, and I don’t claim to be a critic. If anyone else saw the show and agrees or disagrees, share your review with PRB.

Randy Gaddo, a retired Marine, is Director of Leisure Services (parks, recreation, library) in Peachtree City, Ga. Contact him at (770) 631-2542 or e-mail

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