I believe change is good. But sometimes change can be a real bitch.
Last night NBC started airing the seventh and final season of my favorite comedy “Parks and Recreation.” I could use this post to tell you all about how I will miss the show and how much I’ve loved watching the characters evolve over time or how I think the time jump might have actually worked, but chances are if you’ve seen “Parks and Rec” you get all that already. I don’t need to tell you how great it is.
Instead I want to talk about what the end of “Parks and Rec” means for Network comedy. When it first premiered “Parks and Rec” wasn’t that great. The first season had some bumps, but Amy Poehler and Mike Schur fixed that in the second season and there hasn’t been a sour note on the show since. “Parks and Rec” always hit home for me because during high school and my first few years of college I worked for my hometown’s Parks and Rec department. I understood the struggles that Leslie Knope and her team went through. I used to teach tennis lessons for the department and I dealt with parents strange requests all of the time. I would come home from a long day in the sun and tennis court and would watch Poeher and company get the struggle of small town life spot on.
Good comedies have good characters that connect with people. “Parks and Rec” has those characters. Who hasn’t been Ron Swanson at some point in their life? “Parks and Rec” would never work on a different network. NBC comedies are meant to have relatable characters that are too innocent for HBO. But the era of NBC’s Thursday night comedy block is over.
When I was a kid I remember sitting with my mom and dad every Thursday watching sitcoms like “Seinfeld,” “Friends,” “Will and Grace,” and “Frasier.” NBC ruled comedy. When single camera shows became popular NBC again struck gold with “The Office” and “30 Rock.” “Parks and Rec” is the last great comedy left from that time and in the short amount of time NBC has given the last season it will be gone and with it the end of NBC’s network comedy period.
NBC will always be my favorite network as long as they still have late-night comedy (which they rule at): SNL, Fallon, and Seth but they are pretty much dead to me at all other levels. At least for right now. Because of how they have just tossed aside what they were once so good at.
But I don’t blame NBC either. Comedy is changing. People are turning to HBO and Showtime for their TV. Even Netflix. Which is cool and amazing and scary all at the same time. I’m so excited for Tina Fey’s comedy to come out on Netflix but I’m also really sad that the great Tina Fey is starting to produce comedies for places other than NBC. See what I mean? Change is good. But it’s also a bitch.
NBC has really screwed “Parks and Rec” with this last season too. It’s going to be airing back to back episodes over the next monthish. I’m not even sure if you can really call that a season. It’s sad really. But NBC is making room for their new Thursday nights with lots of big dramas to counter all of CBS’ crime shows and ABC’s Shondaland shows.
Sad but it’s what happens in the network game. But what comedy does NBC have left? CBS has the dumbed-down multi-cams while ABC has “Modern Family.” Thank goodness for NBC’s ratings savior Fallon or else there would be no comedy left! What happens now? What will NBC do next for comedy?
I believe that things come and go in waves on networks and the last few years have been NBC’s turn to struggle. They’re still trying to find their footing. Change will eventually find them for the better eventually. I just hope they don’t give up on comedy all together.