I’ll admit that I’ve spent most of the last season of “Parks and Recreation” in deep denial; I can’t really believe that tonight is the end of our long, loving sojourn in Pawnee. I’ll have longer thoughts on the show’s legacy later this afternoon and on the finale tomorrow morning, but for now, tell me when you fell in love with “Parks and Rec.” For me, I think it was probably “Kaboom,” the episode in the second season that ended with a strange and delightful reveal that the guy who was arranging playground-building projects was doing it as an elaborate prank. It was an argument that kindness, rather than cruelty, can be the result of puckishness, and it pulled me into the show’s ethos.
• “What ‘Parks And Recreation’ Taught My Son About Feminism (And So Much Else),” by Maureen Ryan: There has been, and will continue to be, a lot of great writing about this marvelous show, but I’m particularly partial to this essay by my friend Mo.
“I don’t need my son to consciously emulate Ron or Leslie. The fact is, in real life, I could not tolerate a Leslie’s maniacal devotion to duty, nor could our budget sustain a Swanson-esque level of meat consumption,” she writes. “Whether or not he grows a full and lustrous mustache down the road, I hope ‘Parks and Rec’ made my son want to grow up into the kind of man who truly celebrates, values and listens to women, and is at ease with the idea of them wielding authority (as was always the case with Ron, Tom, Ben and Andy). I hope the show made him think a little harder about what he can do to make his community a better place (aside from consuming his body weight in breakfast foods on a weekly basis). I am glad that when I asked my son to list three adjectives to describe Leslie, he came up with these words: “happy, supportive, adventurous.'”
• “How Parks and Recreation Managed to Survive for 7 Seasons,” by Josef Adalian: And over at Vulture, Adalian provides a technical explanation for how “Parks” became the Little Show That Could.
“Being a fan of ‘Parks and Recreation’ over the past six years has meant loving a show that almost always seemed on the verge of cancellation. During the early seasons, journalists interviewing creator Michael Schur were pretty much required to bring up the show’s low ratings and ask him to gauge its odds of survival — so much so that Schur eventually began to paint life on the Nielsen bubble as a positive,” Adalian explains. ” ‘I’ve come to really enjoy the uncertainty. I think it breeds good ideas,’ he told HitFix’s Alan Sepinwall in 2013. And yet, when Parks signs off tomorrow, it will have run seven seasons and 125 episodes: That’s a short run, perhaps, compared to other classic comedies (200 for ‘The Office’), but more than enough to avoid the dreaded label of ‘critically beloved but short-lived’ (we will never let go, ‘Happy Endings’). So how did ‘Parks’ manage to overcome low ratings and end its run on its own terms? Let’s do as Leslie Knope would, and make a list of all the pros that kept Pawnee thriving as long as it did.”
• “Decoding the 2015 Oscars: The ‘Birdman’ Win and What It Tells Us About Hollywood,” by Mark Harris: An excellent post-game analysis of the Academy Awards and what they mean for Hollywood’s sense of mission.
“There are stretches in which the Oscars seem to go into hibernation; think of the 1980s, when ‘Chariots of Fire’ and ‘Gandhi’ and ‘Amadeus’ and ‘Out of Africa’ and ‘The Last Emperor’ won and it was hard to discern how much curiosity, or much of anything other than a desire to retreat from the world and the country into a kind of pictorial/historical splendor, the Academy had,” Harris writes. “In retrospect, I think those movies won not because Academy voters didn’t care about what was going on in America, but because they didn’t know what was going on with American movies. The 1980s — post–’Raging Bull,’ pre–indie boom that began with 1989’s ‘Sex, Lies, and Videotape’ — were a decade of uncertainty and trepidation about what American films were supposed to be, other than blockbusters. Back then, the Academy coped with that anxiety — the threat of a scary and bewildering future — by looking backward. Thirty years later, it is coping with it by looking inward with ‘The Artist,’ ‘Argo,’ and ‘Birdman.’ “