Why Parks and Recreation Is Better Than The Office - VRGyani News and Media

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Monday, September 6, 2021

Why Parks and Recreation Is Better Than The Office

The popularity of The Office is undeniable. While the series was on Netflix, it was the most-streamed show on the service, surpassing any of the original content on the streamer. Now, many have subscribed to NBC’s Peacock service simply because The Office moved there. According to Nielsen, The Office was the most streamed show of 2020 by a lot.

The Office also made the mockumentary style of sitcom extremely popular. Many other shows adapted this style such as Modern Family and What We Do in the Shadows. However, the series that’s most often compared to The Office is Parks and Recreation. Parks and Rec premiered 4 years after The Office on the same network, NBC, and used the same mockumentary style. Co-created by The Office writer/producer Mike Schur, Parks and Rec is also another workplace comedy, but focused on a parks department in a small town instead of a paper company.

While The Office continues to be more popular, Parks and Rec has its own devoted audience and for good reason, too. Parks and Rec is a superior series to The Office, and here are 5 reasons why.

RELATED: The Top 50 'Parks and Recreation' Episodes, Ranked

The Humor

This is extremely subjective as everyone’s sense of humor varies. However, Parks and Recreation seems to have more jokes than The Office, and those jokes are more varied, where The Office distinctly relies on cringe comedy. What will often happen is Michael Scott (Steve Carell) will make a fool of himself, causing the rest of Dunder Mifflin to sit in silence while the camera lingers on him. These sequences often last for a while and are difficult to watch.

Now, the point of these scenes is to be awkward and uncomfortable, but it’s constant. The amount of cringe in The Office can be exhausting and it’s often more embarrassing than it is funny. There are hilarious running gags, such as Jim pranking Dwight and Kevin’s constant stupidity, but the humor mostly relies on Michael acting like a buffoon and everyone being uncomfortable around him.

Now, let’s compare this with Parks and Rec. Parks and Rec still has plenty of awkward moments, but it knows how to make you laugh instead of making you look away. For example, one of the funniest scenes on the show is from the episode, “The Fight.” In it, Tom Haverford (Aziz Ansari) introduces a new alcoholic beverage called Snake Juice. However, Snake Juice is incredibly potent and everyone gets wasted. This creates awkward scenes, but because everyone is acting like drunk idiots, it takes the embarrassment out of the scene and allows you to laugh with it instead of looking away. It doesn’t make you cringe because there are no observers to align yourself with.

The Characters Are More Likable

The Office does have iconic characters like Dwight Schrute (Rainn Wilson) and Michael Scott but they’re not exactly good people. Within the entire office, the only purely good-hearted characters are Jim (John Krasinski) and Pam (Jenna Fischer). Sure, most of them don’t mean any harm, but they aren’t exactly nice. Michael is often bigoted and lacks any type of filter. The show wants us to love Michael, but he does so many horrible things throughout the series that it can be hard to forget.

The Office is filled with bad characters who sometimes do good things, while Parks and Recreation is filled with good characters who sometimes do bad things. Knope is one of the kindest characters in any comedy series. While she can go too far in shaping her community, it’s often for good reason so her motives are understandable.

Even a character like Ron Swanson (Nick Offerman) is really a nice person. Yes, he has a hardened personality and tries to be apathetic, but his emotions often get the better of him which leads him to do the right thing. He’s even a good stepfather towards his girlfriend’s daughters. Since there are fewer central characters in Parks and Rec, the show offers more satisfying plotlines that carry through the series. The problem with The Office is that often the series isn’t sure which character to focus on and some characters get left behind. Many characters in the series like Kevin (Brian Baumgartner), Oscar (Oscar Nunez), and Kelly (Mindy Kaling) aren't given much to do outside of Dunder Mifflin.

In Parks and Rec, all of the characters in The Office have lives outside of work and they’re mostly fleshed out. Even Jerry (Jim O’Heir), the punching bag of the group, has a surprisingly beautiful family that not only presents a great dichotomy between Jerry’s work and home life but becomes one of the funniest running gags on the series. Every character in Parks and Rec gets their own developed story while The Office only gives developed stories to maybe six of the central characters.

Admittedly, Parks and Rec doesn’t have a plotline as emotionally satisfying as Jim and Pam’s love story. It’s a phenomenal narrative that culminates in a heartwarming wedding. However, Parks and Rec spends more time on a few characters compared with The Office which can often feel bombarded with too many.

Better Recurring Guest Characters

Amidst the large cast in The Office, there aren’t many recurring guest characters. The ones that are in the series like Todd Packer (David Koechner) and David Wallace (Andy Buckley) aren’t exactly funny or memorable. Even Will Ferrell’s comedic talent was wasted during his time on this show.

However, the recurring guests on Parks and Rec are some of the many highlights of the series. Most notable is Ben Schwartz as Tom’s problematic best friend. Every time he shows up he delivers comedy gold and people have found ways to quote him despite him having limited time on the series. Other great guests include Billy Eichner as Crazy Craig and Paul Rudd as Bobby Newport. Even characters who only appear for one episode have become memorable. Everyone who has seen the show remembers Fred Armisen as the head of Pawnee’s sister city’s parks department in Venezuela. Patton Oswalt’s Star Wars filibuster also became an iconic moment of the series.

The Office simply doesn’t have many memorable guest characters and many of the celebrities who appeared on the series didn’t stand out. A comedy doesn’t have to have great guests to be great, but they can be a bonus, and Parks and Rec has them in spades.

Pawnee Is Just Better Than Scranton

Pawnee is a much better-realized setting than Scranton is. Pawnee does have more freedom to build an interesting small town since it’s not real, but we never see The Office explore Scranton. They do go to restaurants and schools, but these look like any other ordinary places.

There are many regularly visited locations in Pawnee like the town hall, various parks, and JJ’s Diner, where you can get the best waffles in Indiana. In addition, the people who make up this town create many running gags along with expanding the small-town feel of Pawnee. There is the news anchor Perd Hapley (Jay Jackson) who talks as though he’s always on the air and Joan Callamezzo (Mo Collins), the talk show host of Pawnee Today who has a surprising amount of influence.

Pawnee even has a rivalry with its neighboring town, Eagleton, which is much classier than Pawnee. Many of the people in the city are nuts and that’s shown through the town hall meetings where the citizens of Pawnee shout crazy suggestions. The town hall meetings show that Leslie and Anne Perkins (Rashida Jones) are leaders in a city populated with crazy people. Leslie’s perseverance to support them, despite receiving no thanks for it, becomes an inspiring part of Leslie’s character. It’s her home and the idea of home extends throughout the series.

The citizens' ties to home are shown through their fascination with local celebrities, such as Little Sebastian, the tiny horse whose unfortunate death inspires Andy’s (Chris Pratt) amazing song, “5,000 Candles in the Wind.” Pawnee is another character in this series and it really adds to what makes this show so charming. The Office is so contained to Dunder Mifflin that we never really get to explore. There are many episodes where characters go to meetings in New York and other locations, but Scranton never really gets a chance to shine.

Parks and Recreation Ended Before It Lost Steam

The Office had a difficult job of trying to figure out how to keep the show going after Carell left. Michael Scott really is the heart and soul of that series. Season 8 did a decent job, but Season 9 struggled. Season 9 created a lot of plotlines that weren’t fun to watch including Pam and Jim’s relationship problems and the cameraman developing feelings for Pam. Also, Andy Bernard (Ed Helms) became extremely unlikable. He just straight up abandoned everyone and also treated Nellie (Catherine Tate) so horribly.

The Office does end well with an excellent finale but Parks and Rec knew when it was time to pull the plug. Parks and Rec did have to deal with cast members leaving. Both Anne and Chris Traeger (Rob Lowe) left in Season 6 but the show could easily survive without them. It only went on for one more season but Chris and Anne’s absence was never really too noticeable.

Parks and Rec does, admittedly, make an odd decision for its last season, taking place two years after the last season ended and giving Ron and Leslie a rivalry. It just felt odd to see Leslie and Ron constantly bickering, but this is shortly resolved in four episodes. Afterward, the series ends well with an episode showing the future of each character, every character getting their own segment that shows where their lives end up going. Even some of the guest characters get closure to their stories. Season 7 isn’t as good as the others, but it’s only 13 episodes and doesn’t overstay its welcome.

The Office has a great finale but it struggled to get there in its final two seasons. There are a lot of episodes in those last two seasons and it seemed like the writers began running out of ideas, but still knew how they wanted to end it. For example, the episode “Customer Loyalty,” in which Jim misses Cece’s first recital due to his other job, is not fun to watch.

Jim and Pam end up having a huge argument and watching the dream couple who we have become so invested in develop massive marital problems is a bummer. Plus, this brings in the plotline with the mic operator which is completely unnecessary and goes nowhere.

The Office will continue to be more popular, but there’s more to appreciate with Parks and Rec. Its charming characters, unique setting, and goofy sense of humor make it a top-tier comedy series. It takes The Office formula and ends up doing it better.

KEEP READING: The Top 50 Episodes of ‘The Office’, Ranked



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