Parks and Recreation: A Feat in Satire

Starting in 2009 and coming to a close less than a week ago, after six years of airtime, Parks and Recreation, a television show on the NBC Network, featuring some of the currently, and previously, biggest-named actors and comedians (such as: Chris Pratt, Aziz Ansari, Amy Poehler, and Rob Lowe), among countless popular guest stars, has accumulated a rather large and dedicated fanbase over it’s years airing, partly due to the cast and partly due to the creative joke writing in the show.

parks and rec ben

In gaining its large fanbase, Parks & Rec has built up an intricate story over the years, but building its foundation with political and social satire, with absolutely brilliant writing, hilariously commenting on all types of current issues. For the most part of the show, the story revolves around Leslie Knope (played by Amy Poehler), a citizen of Pawnee, Indiana and a government worker first assigned to the Parks and Recreation department. Leslie’s story also involves her nine other friends and co-workers, who, altogether are complete polar opposites of one another; however, as seen throughout the show, they typically come together as one cohesive unit.

Throughout the last few seasons of Parks & Rec, viewers have seen many worldly famous American political figures with guest spots, such as: Vice President Joe Biden, First Lady Michelle Obama, Newt Gingrich, John McCain, and plenty more. The use of figures like Joe Biden and Michelle Obama also puts an extremely human side to them, making them appear as something that’s not just a decision maker, but also a human being with a sense of humor, while also drawing attention to the show to people who normally wouldn’t care about a satirical program. In having these powerful political figures/tastemakers on the show, Parks & Rec broke boundaries on how to promote a satirical show such as itself. It’s been done on talk shows millions of times, but never, not that I can recall, in a sitcom.

Pop culture and American media are inextricably linked—it’s no coincidence that Jenny Lind, the Beatles, and American Idol were each promoted using a then-new technology—photography for Lind; television for the Beatles; the Internet and text messaging for American Idol. For as long as mass media have existed in the United States, they have helped to create and fuel mass crazes, skyrocketing celebrities, and pop culture manias of all kinds. Whether through newspaper advertisements, live television broadcasts, or integrated Internet marketing, media industry “tastemakers” help to shape what we care about. – Jack Lule

It seems as though, to build its fanbase and appearance in pop culture, Parks & Rec has clearly utilized social media outlets and tastemakers, along with political tastemakers. For example: Barack and Michelle Obama are two of the most important people in the United State, with a strong presence on social media, enabling the word about Michelle Obama on Parks & Rec to get out fast and generate an audience for the show.

Among its political credibility and media presence, Parks & Rec also has a cult internet following, with million of memes gifs, youtube videos, and tumblr fan pages. Although someone hasn’t watched more than an episode of the show, a lot of the times they’ll have seen a video on youtube of the hilarious blooper reels released with the season DVDs.


In closing, I believe that, although Parks and Recreation is now off the air, it will never be forgotten and will be looked at as a landmark in satire and comedy, hopefully paving the way for shows like it to come. And if you haven’t watched Parks & Rec yet, then I hope this article and the clips will persuade you to watch it. It’s certainly worth the invested time. If not for me, or even yourself, watch it for Ron Swanson.

2 thoughts on “Parks and Recreation: A Feat in Satire

  1. mclewis95 says:

    Parks & Rec is one of my favorite shows and I was so sad to see it go. The writers of the show were so creative and funny that it seemed to be that any dialogue that was said was immediately quotable and hilarious. From Ron Swanson’s love of America to everybody not caring about Jerry Terry Barry Larry Gary, it was a comedy powerhouse and most shows just can’t compete with Parks & Rec. I’ve been a big fan since the first episode, it’s heartbreaking to see it go!

  2. I’m a huge fan of Parks and Rec, and have been since it started. I feel like the intermingling of real life politicians was a very smart idea for the show because it gave the characters a form of “realness”. It made them feel like they were real. I also feel that this choice may have sparked some people to pay attention to politics, which was something that happened to me.

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