(The ten best comedies of 2012 were revealed on Hulu’s homepage this week. Here’s your winner. To view the rest of the list, click here.)
So maybe I am a romantic.
I never really thought I was. But when you’re asked to write about the best comedy on TV today, you’re forced to figure out just what it is about that show that works.
Parks and Recreation made it to the top of Hulu’s Best Comedies of 2012 list because a group of us here at Hulu HQ agreed that it really is the No. 1 comedy of the year. And this may be the first (only?) time this has ever happened, but someone at Time magazine agrees with us.
But what makes it one of TV’s best shows?
It comes down to the relationships.
First, the obvious one: Ben and Leslie (Adam Scott and Amy Poehler). Some of the show’s most tender moments are centered on their courtship, from their clandestine relationship to their decision to be together, no matter what, to a teary-eyed wedding proposal and a pretty amazing engagement gift.
Of course, there’s also Andy and April (Chris Pratt and Aubrey Plaza), and what I’d call the office romance between everyone in the Pawnee Parks Dept. However, what makes Parks and Rec truly great is a different relationship which borrows a page from the 30 Rock playbook: Leslie and Ron (Nick Offerman).
Ron and Leslie are much like Liz Lemon and Jack Donaghy on that other NBC show. Ron takes on a fatherly role as he (somewhat reluctantly) guides Pawnee’s most enthusiastic citizen through her career and her life. Meanwhile, Leslie meddles in Ron’s life every chance she gets, whether she’s ambushing him with birthday cheer or protecting him from his dreaded ex-Tammys in her self-appointed role as his “emotional guardian.”
So I’ll go ahead and say it: Parks and Rec is the best comedy on TV today. Maybe it’s a strange alchemy of Ron’s gruff persona, Leslie’s eagerness, and Ben’s terrible accounting jokes. But I think it’s because it hasn’t shied away from the tender side of humanity. The show took a risk by letting its characters fall in love and be happy. In the past, that’d be considered jumping the shark, but here, the writers are smart enough to keep the relationships real and unforced. We’re rooting for Ben and Leslie. And April and Andy, Ron and Diane, and yes, even Jerry and Gayle.
Then again, maybe it’s really all about Ron’s bushy mustache. That would make a lot more sense.