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What Parks And Recreation Taught Me About Grown-Up Friendship

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Parks & Recreation
Parks & Recreation

I know I’m a bit late coming to the party considering the final episode has aired already, but 6 weeks ago I started watching Parks and Recreation and it has literally, changed my life.

Sure, I’ve watched a lot of clever sitcoms over the years. I’m nearly 32 and almost married so I get my mid-week kicks from a 40 inch plasma screen and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. Quite frankly, I couldn’t be happier.

But I found something delightfully different about those strange individuals employed at the Parks and Recreation department of Pawnee, that made me do more than jiggle my belly with glee as I churned through season after season. They made me think about “life things.” And I’m talking serious “life things” like love and loyalty and everything in between.

Yet the one thing they made me think about the most was friendship; what grown-up friendship is all about.

This is what I learned:

Friendship can creep up in the unlikeliest of situations

When Leslie Knope (Deputy Parks Director) holds her first public forum, she meets Ann Perkins. Ann is annoyed because her boyfriend has broken both his legs falling into an oversized pit beside her house. From that fateful meeting, this unlikely duo forged the cutest bond you’re likely to see on television.

Their story is one of indisputable serendipity. Leslie badly wanted a committee and the kudos that went with it, and Ann wanted an opportunity to vent her endless frustrations — but both women discovered something of more substance than they could have hoped for… lasting friendship.

Friends can be downright different

The oddest friendship pairing throughout all 7 seasons is undoubtedly that of Ron Swanson (Parks Director) and April Ludgate (Ron’s assistant).

Ron admires April’s unwavering apathy towards… well everything, and April respects Ron because he allows her to be exactly who she is. Although both share the same anarchic nature – they are essentially worlds apart in age, upbringing and standing. Yet the fondness they feel for each other sees both behaving uncharacteristically protective towards one another when life throws either a curve ball.

Friends will behave immorally and we just have to get over it

Tom Haverford (government official) is the quintessential wayward friend we’ve all had. He accidently shoots Ron in the head on a camping trip and lets Leslie take the blame. He allows Li’l Sebastian, Pawnee’s beloved miniature horse to wander off into a nearby cornfield after leaving him unattended at the Harvest Festival; subsequently blaming his colleague Jerry.

Tom’s narcissism and selfishness leaves you questioning why you would ever choose such a person as a friend. Nonetheless, you know that deep down there is a vulnerability you can’t help but love and a fierce loyalty that would see him lay down his life for a friend.

Friends follow your dreams with you

Every character in Parks and Recreation are aided and abetted in the pursuit of their dreams. Whether it’s Andy Dwyer’s (Pawnee City Hall shoe shiner) unlikely goal of becoming a rock star with his band Mouse Rat, Tom’s yearning to be a nightclub owner or Leslie’s campaign for office; the faith, support and sacrifice they offer is inspiring and incredibly touching.

So as I reluctantly watch the concluding episodes of this remarkable show, I am left with a shining example of what friendship can look like if you’re willing to put that extra bit of heart into it. TC mark

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