Okay, so it’s been over 24 hours since the Parks and Recreation finale aired and it’s still kind of hard not to have a lot of feelings–all the feelings!–about it. I am actually still kind of conflicted about this thing that pretty much became the love of my life over seven seasons (I’m sorry, popcorn and my fellow Parks and Rec-loving boyfriend) coming to an end. It’s almost like I lost a true friend, a true partner, a true–to reference one of Leslie’s best metaphors in the finale (well, aside from all those Ann compliments)–teammate last night. And that’s why I can’t bring myself to write a full fledged, hyper critical review of that Six Feet Under lite finale.
It almost feels wrong to pick at this entity that’s done me so many solids over the years. So I’m just going to stick to thanking this amazingly kind, generous and hilarious show for what it’s given me, and that’s so many wonderfully layered women to look up to right now and for the rest of my life.
This one’s for you, glorious Pawnee Goddesses.
I’m sorry this letter didn’t come sooner, when you would have maybe been around to hear it and make it into some sort of ridiculously awesome scrapbook, or use it against me in some sort of epic revenge plot, or wear it like that bitchin’ gold watch you just bought, or use it as a catalyst to talk about my real feelings and hopes and slightly off-kilter dreams. But I just want to say I’m so thankful I got to know you beautiful starfishes of Parks and Recreation.
I have to start by thanking the woman who will both never and always waffle, Leslie Knope. You might be fictional, but you are the real deal to me and the reason why workaholic ladies like myself can actually feel cool for once in our continually stressful, yet always fulfilling lives. Thank you for making me realize that it’s okay to want to put your whole heart into everything you do, even if it means it gets broken sometimes. And on that note, thank you for also making me understand, once and for all, that there’s nothing wrong with gathering a stellar little support team despite having this sneaking suspicion you can just do it better on your own (secret I know now: you can’t always and that’s okay too!). I see now that you’re not necessarily giving up by giving in to help, but actually committing even more to your goal, just collectively. And, as we both know, friends and confidantes are always supposed to come before work (but not always before waffles).
Before I move on to your equally compliment-worthy confidantes, let me also just thank you, Leslie, for proving that, yeah, sometimes nice girls (and boys) can finish first, whether personally or professionally. And moreover, that being nice doesn’t mean you have to be a pushover. There’s a big, huge, pit-sized difference between letting someone walk all over you and your ideas and letting someone come before you and yours in an attempt to make them stand a bit taller. Thank you, sincerely, for showing me that.
On the flip side of things, thank you, April Ludgate, for showing me that it’s also okay to be totally, insanely cynical too. Thank you for making it clear that you don’t have to smile for anyone but yourself and the ones you love, and you don’t have apologize for feeling that way. Oh, and yeah, even if you are generally and purposefully cold to most people, it’s not a bad thing to want to warm up to people. Just because you don’t love as openly as some other people doesn’t mean you don’t know how to, or want to.
Another quick and serious thank you to April for representing us year-round Halloween queens. There are literally baker’s dozens of us out there longing to do as you did in the not-so distant future: giving birth on the best day of the year while listening to “Monster Mash” and rocking full zombie make-up. I’m currently trying to make Galloween (my haunted Galentine’s Day alternative) happen, but one day they will make Halloween Studies a thing, and it will, I swear, be all because of you, you tricky treat of a wannabe inhuman being.
Speaking of treats, shout out and thanks to my girl, Donna Meagle, for reminding the world that you gotta treat yo self in addition to others. Sure, it’s great to play the Leslie in your group of friends and find everyone the ideal surprise gifties at every turn. But you also need to reward yourself for just being you in a way that’s, well, totally you too. You want a cupcake or five after a month of hard work? Have at it! You craving a new haircut after getting a fabulous new job? Get it, girl! You just want to stay home and watch Scandal all weekend for no particular reason other than you want to? Go on with your newly treated self.
Before I go treat myself to some new Kleenexes and maybe another viewing of the Parks finale, let me just give thanks to the woman whom Leslie might love most (oh, who am I kidding–she definitely loves her most): Ann Perkins. Thank you, [insert hyperbolic adjective here] [insert second hyperbolic adjective here] [insert random sea creature], for being a surprisingly apt model for the scary, but accurate “Change is good” philosophy. Over your tenure in Pawnee, you demonstrated that it’s not okay to adjust yourself and your circumstances for just anyone (i.e. a guy), but it definitely is okay to do that for yourself and your own betterment when you’re ready. We all missed you right along with Leslie when you left to start your new life with Chris, but we were also okay with it because you made the decision for yourself, for your family, in the name of love. And what’s more, you had changed from Season 1 Ann, the Ann that might have dropped everything to make pancakes for an ungrateful boy who would eventually move on and find his perfect woman anyway, to become Season 5 Ann, the Ann that wasn’t going to settle for not having the right boy, the right life, even if it meant taking some risks to get there.
That’s what all you ladies did, really. You took risks, your risks, to move forward and be the best that you could be for yourself and for your little team of forever Galentines. And because of that, you, and the wonderful women playing you, were just that. And because you were, you constantly brought so many of us so much joy you might think the world received an unending gift card to J.J.’s Diner. Or at the very least, an overwrought thank you letter with an ending much more sappy than your own perfectly pressed and warm ones.
P.S. – Leslie, I’m convinced you became president to Ben’s First Gentleman in the end. Because….