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The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that teens who watch Parks and Recreation will find a mockumentary-style sitcom from the creators of The Office with adult-oriented humor when it comes to sexual content, alcohol, and language (including a little bleeped swearing). That said, the main character is goofy but likeable, and her well-intentioned quest to perform her public duties as ethically as possible -- however misguided -- is a noble one.
What's the story?
In PARKS AND RECREATION, an unseen camera crew documents the efforts of Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler), an idealistic parks and rec official working for the town of Pawnee, Ind., to change her community for the better. But her efforts are often hampered by her own incompetence. Among those aiding Leslie on her quest -- and often standing in her way -- are her skeptical boss, Ron (Nick Offerman); her enterprising colleague, Tom (Aziz Ansari); and a state auditor (Adam Scott) with whom she enters into an under-wraps office romance. She also works closely with a local nurse (Rashida Jones) who becomes the city health department's new public relations director -- and her best friend.
Is it any good?
This series is goofy, clever, and ultimately, full of heart. Playing a deluded public servant with a can-do attitude, Poehler -- who first found fame on Saturday Night Live -- tackles a different kind of comedy in this mockumentary that attempts to do for small-town bureaucrats what The Office did for misguided middle managers. And the verdict is that Parks and Recreation pulls it off, thanks in large part to the comedic chops of a woman who once gangsta rapped with Sarah Palin on SNL's "Weekend Update" while 8 months' pregnant.
The show's first season was funny, if not rolling-on-the-floor hilarious -- but the character-driven comedy gets better with time once audiences are more familiar with the players involved and come to embrace their quirks and foibles. The decision to keep things fresh with new regulars and a steady stream of guest stars and is a smart choice, too, pulling talent like Scott, Rob Lowe and Patricia Clarkson into the mix.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the way women are portrayed on television and why positive female relationships like those on Parks and Recreation tend to be such a rarity. Are women on TV more often shown working together, or working against each other? How do TV stereotypes match up to the behavior of the women you know in real life?
Does the mockumentary style work well for a comedy like this one? Would the show be as funny if it were presented as a typical sitcom with a laugh track? Why do you think the show's creators decided to film it the way they did?
As far as the content, do you think the show exaggerates what happens behind the scenes in local government offices? Do you think local officials do a good job of running your community?
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.