SIDE-BY-SIDE: Two Iconic Millennial Shows

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1: PARKS AND RECREATION

While bored scrolling through Netflix my freshman year, I came across a little show called “Parks and Recreation.” I had heard some good things about the show and thought I’d give it a shot. After a few episodes, I became hooked and soon fell in love with this heartwarming show.

If you don’t know what “Parks and Rec” is about, it follows a rag tag group of employees at the parks and recreation department of the fictional Pawnee, Indiana. Like many comedy shows, the first season is a bit rough as it tries to develop the characters and find the right tone. The main character Leslie Knope is a bit awkward and almost resembles “The Office” character Michael Scott. She comes off as kind of an idiot who doesn’t truly understand the others around her. Whenever I rewatch the show, I barely touch the first season because it really is lacking in depth, unlike the later seasons.

As the seasons go on, Leslie Knope and the other characters really grow and show huge character development. She becomes less of an idiot and more of an overly passionate spunky politician. Each character is very unique, yet complimentary to each other. There’s the quiet yet opposing Ron Swanson, who acts as a sort of mentor to basically everyone in the show. There’s the weird moody millennial, April Ludgate, who develops a relationship with the goofy Andy Dwyer. And of course, two of my favorite characters, Chris Traeger and Ben Wyatt. They were introduced in the second season and with the addition of these two characters, the show really took off. Chris Traeger was like a super health oriented version of Leslie Knope and Ben Wyatt acts as the straight man on the show, who is constantly confused and questioning the crazy town and its residents.

What I really love about the show and what makes me keep coming back to it is its overwhelming warmth and happiness that it emits. As you watch the show, you watch the characters grow with each episode. You watch Leslie go from this inexperienced but enthusiastic parks and rec deputy director to a serious politician. Everyone grows in the department, goes through different trials and obstacles, and eventually reaches their dreams and goals. Despite the fact that everyone goes on to pursue different careers and lives, whenever the gang comes back together, they click like they’ve never been apart. Even the lighting and setting of the show adds to the warmth and happy tone of the show with lots of sunlight and open spaces.

Overall, “Parks and Rec” is about unlikely friendships and going after your dreams. Every character has obstacles thrown at them and they overcome them. Characters fail numerous times before they finally reach their goals. “Parks and Rec” has always had a special place in my heart ever since my freshman year. Whenever I’m feeling sad or sick, I put on “Parks and Rec” to make myself feel better and to remind myself that I can get through any obstacle that comes my way.

2: THE OFFICE

It pains the hipster inside me to admit that The Office is my favorite television show – it seems like such a stereotypical choice – but I don’t think another show could ever live up to the impact that it has had on me. Every episode is packed to the brim with witty discourse, unforgettable one-liners and emotional character development that sticks with you, yet somehow never grows old. It’s the perfect blend of comedy and romance, of human connection and slapstick comedy, of rich story and passive fun. I don’t think a day goes by that I don’t reference one of Jim’s iconic gags or quote a sliver of dialogue between Michael and Dwight.

What’s most impressive about The Office, though, is the scale of the show. The series, shot in the mockumentary format, follows the employees of a fictional Pennsylvania paper company over the course of a decade. Nothing fantastical happens during the show, and there’s no main “mission” that pulls the story together. Instead, the show focuses on fleshing out the lives of regular people: Michael, the dysfunctional and socially-inept manager who wants nothing more than to be liked; Dwight, the crude beet farmer who constantly strives for a seemingly unreachable level of success; Pam, the bashful receptionist who grows out of her shell and pulls the office together; and an assortment of other lovable (and often hateable) characters who could be pulled straight from the real world. We get to watch people rise in success, wane in failure, make best friends and fall in love.

With such a realistic, small-scale focus, it’s the writing that gives The Office such a powerful punch. Every episode is driven by a constant flow of wit, both from and at the expense of the characters, and the writers seldom give you the chance to recover from one joke before they hit you with another. When the show does take a step away from comedy, though, it produces some of the most heartfelt, genuine and wholesome relationships I’ve ever experienced in media. The viewer falls in love with the employees of Dunder Mifflin, they become family. It’s very rare that a show can make me feel so connected to the characters, especially when it’s so light in nature.

The Office’s brilliant writing gives it another rare quality: it can be experienced again and again and still be enjoyable. More than any other show I’ve seen, it is completely, unconditionally rewatchable. Even after having seen it countless times, (it’s my go-to show for passing time,) and even after memorizing every joke, (seriously, I’ve watched it a lot,) the show still hasn’t run dry. The jokes still make me laugh, the raw moments still make me cry, and the stories still intrigue me. It seems unfathomable that a show could still be this fresh after experiencing it from every angle, but somehow The Office holds strong.

As much as it hurts me to endorse such a cliché opinion, The Office is as popular as it is for a good reason. It’s brilliantly written, brimming with wit and raw with emotion. Without fail, it always has me coming back for more.

That’s what she said.