Updated: Jan 31
It may be an unpopular opinion, but it had to be said. Parks and Rec is better than The Office. Both of these sitcoms have a place in everyone’s heart. The fierce Lesley Knope loves her town and gives it her all even when people don’t appreciate her as much and then you have Michael Scott the rapscallion boss who seems to miss all of the social cues when something is going wrong. It seems like a close call but let’s go over why one simply has the upper hand. Spoilers ahead!
Parks and Rec have plot threads that are all but forgotten. Every season has something to offer and Leslie Knope is at the wheel! From saving her department to running for city council. Every season continues with very little filler episodes. Meanwhile, The Office is an assortment of randomness, which is not always bad, but not always too fun to follow. It can become formulaic over time until a relationship comes in to move whatever kind of plot comes along.
Parks and Rec is all about girl power and women supporting women. Our main character, Leslie Knope is a woman who is detail-oriented, kind-hearted, and extremely efficient. She is always ready to show appreciation to her fellow peers and is ready to fight for her department and town. She even creates “Galentine's Day” a celebration for female friendship in place of Valentine's Day. On top of that, male characters such as Ron Swanson, Andy Dwyer, and many others are supporting these women in what they want to do. You even have a woman like Donna who is sassy and classy, showing that not only does she not need a man for her happiness, she makes her own money and treats herself whenever she wants.
Then you have The Office where not only do women not support each other, many come off as unlikable or self-centered. Even when they did have a strong no-nonsense character such as Jan (Michael’s previous boss), she quickly turned into a crazed girlfriend who has wacky mood swings. She has a toxic relationship with Michael as seen in the episode “Dinner Party”. You have someone like Kelly who chases after the same guy who treats her like trash every time. Angela is judgmental and condescending and Phyllis and Pam leave a few of their traits to be desired. All in all, it doesn’t give off an ideal work environment for women.
The last note I want to make is how these shows have aged. Both shows have been finished for years and now live through Netflix and Hulu. When looking back on how they aged I can say that only one aged better than the other. Parks and Rec’s idea of women, healthy relationships, and emotional moments have all stood up after years of being off the air. The only thing that may have not aged well are the segments of Joe Biden depending on your opinion of the man. But other than that, it’s humor stays humble and rarely offensive. It even has scenes where Leslie is respectful towards the chief of a Native American tribe and points out when the town has been more than wrong in their treatment towards other races.
The Office is anything but that as they have several episodes of Michael Scott being racist or sexist. Steve Carrell himself has even said in an interview with Esquire that the show would not make it today just because it was such a different climate years ago. Offensive humor is good if done right, but the show is past its prime. The uncomfortable comedy just doesn’t fly like it used to.
All in all, it’s fine to still like The Office as it has some iconic moments such as Dwight and Jim’s prank wars and Michael’s signature “That’s what she said”. For a show that wouldn’t fly today, it’s following is still running loyal and strong. It’s an entertaining mockumentary show. Parks and Rec just did it better that’s all.