From Leslie in London to penguin weddings, how do fans feel about the season premieres of Parks and Recreation over the years?
Parks and Recreation was one of NBC’s staple shows for 7 years as the simple premise about a group of people working in a small-town branch of their local government became one of the funniest comedies on television.
Despite not getting quite as much acclaim as some other mocumentary shows (The Office, Modern Family) the parks and recreation department of Pawnee, Indiana gave audiences seven seasons of gut-busting laughter and some of the most memorable characters television has ever seen.
7 Pilot, Season (7.0)
The first season was only six episodes long and wasn’t quite as groundbreaking as NBC would’ve liked, but nevertheless, the season did well enough to be brought back – and this was the episode that started it all. Leslie Knope, a dedicated public servant who works in the parks and recreation department of Pawnee, Indiana is introduced as the main character as she tries to do everything she can to make her hometown a better place for everyone to live. During a public forum, a woman named Ann tells Leslie that there’s a giant pit behind herself that’s government-owned and that Leslie has to do something about it – that interaction began a life-long friendship and a story-arc that would take 6 seasons to conclude.
6 2017, Season 7 (7.7)
The seventh season of Parks and Recreation decided to jump forward three years in time and gave audiences the Pawnee of the future! Leslie had established a National Parks Office in Pawnee and was running the entire mid-west region and things seemed great… until it’s revealed that she and Ron had a falling out a few years prior and are not only no longer friends, but are apparently bitter enemies. The two former-friends come to a head when both the National Parks Department and a tech-company backed by Ron start bidding for a 25-square mile parcel of land in Pawnee. The episode ends with Leslie and Ron’s bids being the only two in contention for purchasing the land and the two parties preparing for all-out war against each other.
5 Pawnee Zoo, Season 2 (8.0)
The second season is where Parks and Recreation truly began to hit their stride and find themselves as a show (which makes sense after just six episodes in the first season). During the season 2 opener, Leslie decides to do something cute by marrying two penguins in order to sponsor the local zoo – unfortunately, Leslie accidentally marries two male penguins and a member from the Society for Family Stability Foundation demands she either annul the wedding or resign from her job (claiming that Leslie is making a stance about “gay marriage”).
However, Leslie holds true to her beliefs and doesn’t annul the wedding or resign, but rather drives the penguins to a zoo in Iowa (where gay marriage is legal).
4 Ms. Knope Goes to Washington, Season 5 (8.0)
The entirety of season 4 revolved around Leslie’s campaign and how Ben did such a good job as her campaign manager, resulting in Ben receiving a job managing a Congressional campaign from Washington D.C. for the start of season 5. In a twist, Ben brings April with him to work as his assistant so Leslie and Andy decide to visit their significant others during the season 5 premiere.
Leslie, having just been elected to her local City Council, starts to feel insecure about how far she’s come in her career when Ben introduces her to a bunch of successful women in politics (some of whom are her personal heroes). Luckily, Andy is able to help pull her out of her funk when they get back to Pawnee and she realizes there’s still a lot of good that she can do for her town/community.
3 Go Big or Go Home, Season 3 (8.2)
The show made a brilliant move by bringing in the characters of Ben Wyatt and Chris Traeger at the end of season 2 and made an even smarter one when they decided to keep them around. When Ben and Chris show up and tell Leslie and the parks department that there are going to be massive cuts to the city budget, Leslie comes up with an idea to save their funding – Harvest Festival, a massive carnival/festival with games, rides, prizes, food, and more that will bring in enough money to save the town. Chris and Ben not only think it’s a great idea, but they decide to stick around and help the parks department make Harvest Festival a reality.
2 I’m Leslie Knope, Season 4 (8.2)
While she may have just been a low-level bureaucrat for the first few seasons, Leslie had always made it known that she wanted to run for office someday. Turns out, someday was the season 4 premiere when she was approached by some campaign managers who wanted Leslie to be their candidate for Pawnee City Council. Leslie, of course, agrees and decided to start running for office… unfortunately, her choice meant that she had to break up with Ben due to the fact that their relationship could cause controversy if it ever got out to the public. She spends the episode dragging her feet about breaking up with Ben, but it eventually happens (in a very sweet way) and Leslie officially announces to the public that she’s running for City Council.
1 London: Part 1, Season 6 (8.6)
Leslie had been in office for only a year and had done everything she could to make life better for the citizens of Pawnee, Indiana – unfortunately, that meant that she ruffled some feathers of large organizations and a committee had formed to try and recall her from office. In response, April surprisingly submitted Leslie’s name for an award highlighting extraordinary women and Leslie won, which meant that Leslie had to go to the ceremony and receive her award – in London! April, Andy, Ron, and Ben decided to join her and the group got to spend the entire episode wandering around the capital of England. When they make it back home to Pawnee, Leslie admits that while she’s upset about the recall committee, it doesn’t deter her from doing the work that she’s always loved doing.
NEXT: Parks And Recreation: The 10 Best Episodes (According To IMDb)
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