'Parks and Recreation' Season 5 Finale Review: Drumming Up Drama For a Sixth Season


On Thursday night, NBC aired the season 5 finale of Parks and Recreation. It was an episode absolutely jam packed with shake-ups, surprises, and other not-so-thinly veiled attempts at building intrigue. The fate of the show still hangs in the balance, and it was apparent from the finale that Amy Poehler, Nick Offerman, Rob Lowe, and all the rest would very much like to stay on the air. Fortunately, all of this pandering didn't detract one bit from the humor, reminding us all why Parks and Rec deserves to be renewed for a sixth season.

First off, Pawnee is great. The citizenry, who were prominently on display in the finale, are the perfect caricature of the American public. The town meetings almost always devolve into rhythmic chanting. Everyone wants the government to disappear until they find themselves in need of help. The juxtaposition of complete absurdity with the everyday mundane is executed perfectly. When I think of Pawnee, I imagine the staff of The Onion started publishing a fake local newspaper, and then their fictional town was brought to life. There really isn't enough satire on TV, especially now that 30 Rock is gone and we're losing Futurama. It would be a major blow to lose Parks and Rec.

Canceling Parks and Recreation would also mean saying goodbye to all of the magnificently crafted characters. I especially love the smaller recurring roles, many of whom are rich enough that their mere appearance on screen can be enough to warrant a laugh. Whether its the obliviously tautological Perd Hapley, or Brandi Maxxx, the most well-intentioned porn star in all of Indiana, it seems like there's always a familiar face in the background to put the topper on a joke. And then there's Jean-Ralphio, a character so good they added his twin sister to the show so there could be twice as much of him.

As I mentioned earlier, the fifth season finale of Parks and Rec attempted to be as titillating as possible. Mission accomplished.

Almost every storyline they set up for next year is one I want to watch. Tom competing with a business attempting to steal his Rent-A-Swag idea? I'm on board. Leslie being threatened with a recall election due to her unpopular albeit extremely beneficial policies? Sounds good to me. Ron Swanson dealing with a pregnancy? Yes ... please. Though that last one is clearly the highlight, there's obvious comedy just about everywhere.

The only impending drama that I'm not particularly excited for is April going to veterinary school in another town. For one thing, it better not mean that she's on the show less frequently, and for another, we've seen the separated couple trope a million and one times, including several instances from Parks and Recreation itself.

Showrunner Michael Schur did his absolute best to secure another season for his much beloved yet somehow not widely viewed creation, but the decision lies with NBC. In the end, Parks and Rec may win by default, since the rest of NBC's mid-season schedule has been absolutely tanking in the ratings.

In the end it comes down to simple capitalism, or as Ron Swanson would say, “God's way of determining who is smart and who is poor.” Personally, I think Parks and Rec was smart with the way they ended season 5. Let's hope they don't wind up poor.