Warning: This review contains spoilers of the Parks and Rec finale.
The season 6 finale of Parks and Recreation, the one before the series’ actual finale that aired a few weeks ago, could have functioned just fine as an ending for the whole show. I wouldn’t have been happy about it, but it left off at a good point of transition for Leslie from local to federal government. There were unanswered questions, but the finale ended on a note of potential after closing one chapter of the characters’ lives and even finished with a scene three years in the future to show that life moved on for these residents of Pawnee, Indiana.
The year of that jump forward, 2017, is where the final season took place. Though this was a season full of changes in the characters’ lives, ultimately, the show just took an entire season to say goodbye.
To some, this may have seem drawn out. This was my fear as well, because I knew the show was nearing its natural end, but I didn’t think it ended up being that way at all. By putting the show three years in the future from when the previous season ended, we were able to start afresh with new challenges that had arisen from the changes at the end of the previous season.
This was also a time of transition for the characters, with many of them finally moving out of Pawnee in the end. So while it was certainly as sentimental as I wanted, it was not a boring excuse to reminisce on the previous seasons, so I think the time jump was a genius move on the writers’ part.
The actual final episode projected the lives of the characters even further into the future. We learn that Leslie goes on to be the governor of Indiana, Ben becomes a congressman, Donna moves to Seattle and starts a foundation, Andy and April have a child, Tom finally achieves business success by writing a book about his business failures, and Garry/Jerry/Larry/Terry is the mayor of Pawnee for the rest of his life.
The finale is focused on Leslie and Ben’s last day in Pawnee with interrupting clips about each character’s future, and the clips themselves all intertwine. It then ends with a scene in 2025 where they all reunite in the Parks Department office where they first met, each with their own individual happy ending.
It’s rare to have a show with characters that you actually need to know the fate of until 2025 and even rarer to have a show that actually provides those details. I think if it was any other show on the planet, I would have been incredibly annoyed at the drawn out ending, but as someone who loves Parks and Recreation dearly, I needed this. An entire goodbye season may seem overboard and sentimental, but it was redeemed by the fact that the show is not a cheesy sitcom for the most part. It’s smart, and it’s hilarious, and in the process it presents you with characters that you can’t help but adore. I feel confident that I have the closure I needed for this show that I value so much, and as much as I could watch it forever, I know that it ended gracefully and at the appropriate time.