I am watching the last season of Parks & Recreation, and forgot how much I enjoyed this show. I watched it from season 1-4, then lost interest in it for a reason I cannot remember. I know it just ended, so I am watching the final season on TWC On Demand, and have adored it over again.
I love how the characters are just regular people who are positive and supportive of each other, and of their community, and that they learn to work together and respect one another despite their differences. I like how the characters that don't seem reliable on the outside because of their personas (April the moody slacker, Andy the goofball dummy, Tom the shallow party boy) all have a solid work ethic, take their jobs seriously, and care for others.
I enjoy seeing how the characters evolved over time. April speaks in a deadpan voice, but is caring and loving inside. She gained ambition for her career, and a respectful understanding of others, becoming less cynical from her original "I hate everything" attitude. Ron is very conservative and straight-laced, but has a good heart and respects his colleagues for their character and strengths. Ben gained confidence in himself and got past his old political blunder to be a successful politician. Jerry always had a happy home life that countered the dismissive way he got treated at the office. Andy is goofy, but smarter than he appears. Tom became less self-centered and found a way to balance his lavish interests with care and empathy for others. Donna was always awesome, beautiful, and confident, and she didn't need to be rewarded with finding love and getting married, but it was a bonus for her. I didn't find Ann interesting, so I don't have much to say on her.
And Leslie. Leslie will go down as a classic character in television, truly groundbreaking as a feminist woman who grows from being a small-town boss to possibly a major leader in the country. She is kind, compassionate, tough, bull-headed, and always wants the best for her friends and her town of Pawnee, Indiana. She emphasizes working hard for your dreams, and always finding a way to succeed while working fairly with others, even if they do not share your politics or exact POV. She wasn't a perfect person (she wasn't always a good listener, she was nervous about her relationship with Ben as it jeopardized her job, her stubbornness could turn people off), but she knew when to admit to her own mistakes and do the right thing for others.
A lot of that characterization is from the writers, but I will credit Amy Poehler for giving Leslie her heart and spirit. Poehler is pretty much like Leslie in real life (her Smart Girls at the Party website is an amazing resource to inspire young girls to be smart, ambitious, and creative), and Poehler produced P&R and directed various episodes. I've adored her since the Upright Citizen's Brigade show on Comedy Central, and love seeing how much of an awesome person she is, and how she influenced the character of Leslie so much.
It was a very special show, and I am happy it ran for as long as it did, and that pretty much everyone involved will have successful careers because of it, and that these wonderful characters and stories will live on in reruns for years to come.