When it began, under the supervision of U.S. Office producers Greg Daniels and Michael Schur, Parks looked like it was going to be an Office-clone, right down to the confessional asides and a central character who was an oafish boss. But in its second season, the show began to find its own voice, and it transformed Amy Poehler’s Leslie Knope from an overzealous naïf who doesn’t realize how annoying she is into a smart and competent do-gooder who doesn’t realize that not everyone shares her passion for civic engagement. Certainly not slothful libertarian Ron, prematurely cynical April, or opportunistic Tom. And certainly not the locals of Pawnee, Indiana, a citizenry of eccentric, self-absorbed malcontents worthy of a Preston Sturges movie.
But these are Leslie’s people, and she loves them all, and her overwhelming enthusiasm tends to win them over, just as it does the viewer. That unhip sweetness is infectious, and it makes Parks the rare cringe comedy show that doesn’t seem to have a mean bone in its body. Well, except when it comes to poor Jerry, who, for no good reason, is the hapless butt of everyone’s jokes. Fortunately, the lack of self-awareness that is essential to cringe comedy extends to Jerry as well. He’s able to live in ignorance of the others’ taunts and slights as he goes home every night to his supermodel wife.
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