My personal politics aside, it warmed my heart a wee bit to hear that the Obamas consider NBC's Parks and Recreation a family favorite.
The sitcom, now in its fifth season, is the closest thing we have these days to an heir to Andy Griffith's comedy legacy. It's sharp, funny, at times gut-busting, occasionally sentimental, and unlike most comedy today, built solidly on a belief that every character can be warm and likable.
I've been living in Collingswood for a little over a year now, and I've learned to deeply love this small town for both its conventions and quirks. And it's easy to see how the fictional town of Pawnee, IN (which Parks and Rec calls home) echoes some elements found right here in C'Wood.
Read up on some of the awesome, ridiculous earnestness of recent Collingswood town meetings here and here and here, and then watch the video link (above).
Now, tell me this isn't art imitating life.
And that's why I love Collingswood, and that's why I love Parks and Rec. There is joy, and frustration, and legitimate nobility in the goings-on of small-town politics.
Like The Andy Griffith Show and Northern Exposure and Twin Peaks (well, that one deserves some discussion...) before it, Parks and Recreation is one big hug of a civics lesson, every week, and if you're not watching it yet, you really should be.
Last season, in which Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler) makes a bid for City Council, was just added to Netflix. I dare you to watch all 22 episodes of this season and NOT start to cry and holler in the last five minutes of the finale. I double-dog-dare you.
So, onto the regular part of every column:
Well, you know I want you to watch Parks and Rec. But let's go with something else here this week.
Go On (NBC, Tuesdays, 9pm) features Matthew Perry as a sportscaster dealing with the nigh-bottomless grief of losing his wife...and it's a comedy.
I'm a big fan of the makeshift family formed out of his support group, and I've been rooting for Perry to find his footing ever since Friends. Studio 60 didn't do it, and the less said about Mr. Sunshine, the better. So, here's hoping Perry has a multi-season winner on his hands. Tune in and let me know your thoughts.
Parks and Recreation is your ticket to joy, friends. If the above paragraphs don't convince you, just start watching from the top of Season Two (the six episodes that comprise season one are sort of a mess, but it kicks into high gear with "Pawnee Zoo," in which Leslie accidentally gay-marries two penguins and has to deal with the fallout).
Other standout episodes that would be right at home in Collingswood include: "Go Big or Go Home," "Harvest Festival," "Born and Raised," "The Trial of Leslie Knope," and the genius "Win, Lose or Draw," featuring Paul Rudd in perhaps his funniest role to date. Check it out.
After this week, if you're still watching 2 Broke Girls, even ironically, you're a terrible, subhuman creature. Just stop. Stop. Please, stop.
See you next week, friends!