Parks and Recreation Season 7 Review: Epilogues on Epilogues

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The final season of the beloved Parks and Rec. is a strange animal. For the most part, it seemed superfluous, but then there were moments that I laughed harder at this show than I have in years. Like I said, strange.

Farewell seasons for shows have become commonplace for critically acclaimed fare that have garnered at least a few award nominations and a solid fanbase. Very few shows just get downright cancelled anymore, and if they do, and the fans are loud enough, Netlix or Yahoo goes and resurrects them. It’s a television miracle in and of itself that Parks got a chance to end on its own terms, with the sometimes disastrously low ratings and all.

That said, after Leslie became a city councilwoman in season four, the show has been on a slow decline that made this final season make sense. But last year’s finale “Moving Up” actually managed to feel like series finale all on its own, and a pretty damn good one at that. Before the time jump, Parks and Rec. left most of its characters in a place that the show could end and it would be entirely satisfying.

So let’s address the time jump then, which rendered this final season little more than an extended epilogue. Sure, the future jokes came flying and often landed (still can’t wait to see Hitch 2: Son of a Hitch starring Jaden Smith), but the first half of the season suffered by trying to tell a story.

When we catch up with Leslie and co. in 2017, Ron is at odds with his former workplace proximity acquaintance over a large piece of land that can either be turned into a shopping center or a national park. It was off-putting in a way to see Leslie and Ron inexplicably at each other’s throats right at the start. But this eventually gave way for the exceptional “Leslie & Ron,” the first great episode of the season.

Once all the land development issues are solved, the second half of the season kicks off with Donna’s wedding, as Parks started giving its characters their perfect endings. Many of the best episodes of the season came from here, including “Donna & Joe,” “Pie-Mary,” and “The Johnny Karate Super Awesome Musical Explosion Show.”

But just as a new status quo of happiness was within reach, the series finale took us on a trip through time as we saw many characters’ lives well into the future. For some, it was rewarding; for others, it was just extraneous. Honestly, Parks and Rec. made the mistake of having too happy of an ending and spelling out the rest of these peoples’ lives. While certainly ambitious, it ultimately fell a bit flat.

Still, season seven had a lot of things to celebrate. Despite it mostly being pointless, the series made better use of its characters than it has in some time this season. Ron, Andy, and April had particularly great seasons. So while as a whole the season may have felt unnecessary, there was still a lot to enjoy from it. After all, what’s wrong with an extended epilogue for characters you love? Grade: B+

By Matt Dougherty

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