Parks and Recreation moving up but not out

Warning: This article contains spoilers for the Parks and Recreaton _season six finale, “Moving Up.”

Pawnee, Ind. is far from perfect. The people are rude and morbidly obese; the infrastructure is crumbling and prone to raccoon infestations. But despite all its flaws, former City Councilwoman and Deputy Director of the Pawnee City Department of Parks and Recreation Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler) loves Pawnee with a fierce passion.

What would Pawnee be without her? More importantly, who would Leslie be without Pawnee? Last Thursday, Parks and Recreation played with those questions in its season six finale, “Moving Up.”

There were a lot of storylines going into this finale, which could have made even the extra 20 minutes feel crammed with content, but the writers managed to merge them into one cohesive storyline.

The NBC comedy saw Leslie tackle all sorts of new obstacles this season: the recall election, the pregnancy and subsequent exit of her best friend Ann Perkins (Rashida Jones), and the merger between Pawnee and its neighbor and rival city, Eagleton.

The last few episodes took the show to a new level, as it was revealed that Leslie and husband Ben Wyatt (Adam Scott) are expecting triplets — the always-overachieving Leslie had even managed to overachieve a family.

To top it off, Leslie was still mulling over a major job offer from the National Parks Service that would require a move to Chicago. It was only halfway through the episode that Leslie decided to take the job, which left about 20 minutes for viewers to wonder how the show was going to progress next season.

In fact, much of the episode felt like a series, rather than a season, finale, as all the characters examined their own lives and voiced their appreciation of them. This show depends heavily on its supporting cast for humor and actual storylines, so any major decisions made by Leslie need to be examined in terms of everyone else.

Set against the Pawnee-Eagleton Unity Concert, “Moving Up” saw Ron Swanson (Nick Offerman) reaffirm his commitment to family life, while April Ludgate (Aubrey Plaza) and Andy Dwyer (Chris Pratt) reaffirm their status as the most perfectly dysfunctional couple on TV.

Meanwhile, former Parks employee Tom Haverford (Aziz Ansari) finally opens his newest business venture, Tom’s Bistro, with some help from his friends, some Pawnee celebrities, and some actual celebrities. After a few hiccups, the restaurant actually turns out to be a success.

Parks and Recreation has always been an underappreciated comedy. Despite continuous threat of cancelation, the whole team manages to turn out quality, heartfelt episodes every week.
This week was no exception. It was nice after a season that sometimes felt like a downer to see everyone legitimately happy in their lives.

Even moves that could seem like cop-outs, such as Leslie convincing her new boss to move the Chicago operation to Pawnee, manage to come off as the most natural thing in the world. Of course Leslie would manage to move up in the world without ever having to move out of Pawnee.

And despite the episode’s overarching tone of finality, the final two minutes firmly close out this season and simultaneously push the show into the next, and possibly final, season.

A three-year time jump gives the writers room to jump head first into Leslie’s new roles, both personal and professional, without having to deal with all the transitions.

It’s nice to see a show grow and develop while still maintaining everything that makes it great. Parks and Recreation is consistently funny and entertaining, but continues to find new ways to make a small town in Indiana seem like the best place in the world.