Whenever I think about Parks and Recreation ending its 7 season run on Feb. 24, I get misty eyed, and the opening bars of Semisonic’s “Closing Time” starts buzzing through my mind. The mocumentary comedy never enjoyed huge ratings, but it was well received by critics and enjoyed a fiercely loyal audience. And I will miss it immensely.
Amy Poehler portrayed ever-chipper deputy director of the Pawnee Parks Department, Leslie Knope. She left Saturday Night Live — where she was a cast member from 2001-2008 — to lead the ensemble comedy as it’s central character.
When asked if she had a favorite moment from Parks, Poehler shares, “There are so many funny moments in the show, and so many funny moments on the set. But the things that I will miss most is the everyday — coming to set, and seeing everyone. It’s the in-between moments, I’ll miss the most.”
Aubrey Plaza, who played young curmudgeon April Ludgate on the series shares, “my favorite times [on set] are when we’re all in a big group scene. I really, really liked doing scenes in the bullpen when we’re all at our desks, and we’re all interacting and being weird. There’s always something fun about that, when we get to play off of each other.”
Poehler has been instrumental in the direction of the show and has written several episodes. Since much of the final episode is shrouded in secrecy, (NBC hasn’t even released an official logline), we don’t know what the ending will entail. Pohler mentions that she’s had a role in a bit of the episode’s writing. “Right now — I’m not sure if this will make it in the episode — but I just wrote something to have Leslie say, ‘if you work hard, you spend a lot of time away from your friends and family. But if you’re lucky and you love what you do, the people you work with becomes your friends and family.’ And that is certainly true here.”
Poehler says that one of her favorite parts of playing her perpetually upbeat character is that Leslie lavishes those around her with praise, a rarity in most workplaces. “It’s really fun to get to do scenes where you look at people you genuinely love, and tell them how much you love them and how great they are … so I’m off to play a serial killer next.”
Poehler reveals that there is something that she’s definitely ganking from the Parks and Recreation set. “I’m taking the seal from behind Leslie’s desk — the fake Pawnee seal — because it sat behind me for countless talking heads and scenes, and also it’s fake and it’s made out of Styrofoam and it’s light weight so I can put it under my arm when I run out of here crying. And that symbol of this fake town was one of the first things I saw when we started talking about the show.”
When I spoke with Aziz Ansari at the Television Critics Association winter press tour, he revealed the one thing he wished he’d stolen from the set…
After the series finale on Feb. 24, the entire cast of Parks and Recreation will appear together as guests on NBC’s Late Night with Seth Meyers. Amy Poehler, Aziz Ansari, Nick Offerman, Aubrey Plaza, Chris Pratt, Adam Scott, Jim O’Heir, Retta and executive Producer Michael Schur will be the show’s sole guests for the hour.
Ironically, the 24th is the one-year anniversary of Late Night With Seth Meyers, on which, Amy Poehler was the show’s first guest. Meyers and Poehler previously worked together on SNL, where they shared “Weekend Update” duties together.
Parks and Recreation
First Aired: Thursday, April 9, 2009
Last Episode: Tuesday, Feb. 24, 2015
Emmy Nominations: 12 (the show has never won an Emmy, but Amy Poehler won the 2014 Golden Globe for Best Actress in a TV Comedy)
Ratings Records: Parks was never a ratings juggernaut and barely cracked the top 100, but as NBC lost its once ironclad hold on Thursday nights, the show’s ratings slipped to around 3 million viewers per week.
Leslie Knope’s binders for every situation, event or calamity.
Anytime Ron Swanson (Nick Offerman) had to deal with his ex-wife Tammy 2 (Offerman’s real-life wife Megan Mullally).
Paunch Burger’s 512-ounce “child-size” cup — “It’s roughly the size of a 2-year-old child, if the child were liquefied.”
Li’l Sebastian: Who didn’t love that mini horse?!?
Leslie Knope’s wedding dress made out of photocopies and documents.
Watching Andy Dwyer (and actor Chris Pratt) morph from lovable slacker to drool-worthy stud.
What Happened Last Season?: The Season 6 finale leapt three years into the future, where Leslie and Ben were parents of energetic 3-year-old triplets and Leslie was leading a regional office of the National Parks Service from the third floor of Pawnee City Hall. And she fired Jon Hamm in an out-of-left-field (and hilarious) cameo. Is the future jump a permanent move? Executive producer Michael Schur told Entertainment Weekly that although he’s not opposed to taking glances back, the remainder of the show’s episodes will take place in the near future of 2017. He also revealed that Season 7 events were hinted at in the final scene of Season 6. “The time jump is probably enough of a world-disrupting thing to focus on. Obviously there are details that are interesting — Andy’s arm is in a sling, and [Leslie’s] got three kids now and she mentions a trip to South Dakota and there’s some group of people waiting for her and Ben’s in a tuxedo and she’s got bangs. We put a lot of that stuff in to just throw a bunch of questions up into the air that we will answer at the beginning of next season.”
How Should It End?: Maybe someone will finally address and explain where Mark Brendanawicz (Paul Schneider) has been since the end of Season 2.
Behind the scenes photo by: Ben Cohen/NBC
All other photos by: Colleen Hayes/NBC