I remember when Parks and Recreation was first announced. It seemed like a really lame idea, stealing everything about the format of The Office, and just sticking it in a new setting.
But after season one, the show slowly started to become good. And recently, for at least the past few seasons, I would argue that it’s become far more entertaining than The Office.
So, how did Parks and Rec out Office The Office?
Leslie Knope is Not A Complete Michael Scott Moron
Don’t get me wrong, I love Michael Scott and dearly miss him on The Office. But they took him to a level of absurdity he was never supposed to go. At its core, The Office was supposed to be somewhat grounded in reality, but when you drive your car into a river to spite your GPS, you’ve gone too far. Leslie might be crazy in her own way, but she’s quite intelligent even if her social skills need work. She’s never become annoying or buffoonish the way Michael (and now Andy) did.
The Supporting Characters Matter
The Office has a huge ensemble cast, but it seems like they’re being used less and less as time goes on. When’s the last time Oscar, Kevin, Stanley, Phyillis, Meredith or Creed did something significant? I suppose Parks and Rec has Jerry and Donna, but even they feel more included than The Office‘s background characters. And really, Parks and Rec is more of a true ensemble. The Office has Dwight and sort of Jim as memorable characters, Parks and Rec has created masterpieces in Ron Swanson, Tom Haverford, Andy Dwyer and even Chris Trager, a new addition.
Awkwardness is Less Funny Than Jokes
I know The Office tried to learn from its original BBC predecessor that awkwardness makes the best comedy. It was true for that show, and it was true for the early seasons of the American version. But now? Awkwardness is forced in where no one wants it, like Andy breaking up with his girlfriend at a baby shower in front of her friends. Parks and Rec worries less about being awkward, and more about writing actual funny dialogue for its characters.