I volunteered in small-town Alaska for a year after college. I only had room for the essentials, so I packed my Parks and Rec DVDs—just wedged them into my rain boots and set off. The DVDs got as much use as the boots did, and I could probably count on two hands the number of days I didn’t wear rain boots. I introduced the show to my roommates in our first week there, and it became our language. We said yes with “I think I will good lady” and yelled “MAKE YOUR FACE BETTER” behind the lens of every photo. At a Know Your Boo-style game night, we defaulted to the show for any answers we didn’t know about each other, so one roommate’s parents were named Ron and Tammy, and another’s favorite movie was books. At the end of the year, a friend called me her real-life Leslie Knope and I put it in a cover letter.
I think we should all be glad to be like anyone on Parks and Recreation. The characters are so uniquely themselves and so confident in their voices. They genuinely like each other, and they like what they do. If they don’t, they move on to something better. The rules of comedy say not to be so optimistic, but the rules of government say the same thing, and you don’t see that stopping Leslie Knope. This is a show about doing the hard work every day in a hundred little ways for the people we care about, so here (in no particular order) are 100 reasons to care about Parks and Rec. Happy 100th episode, show. Thank you.
1. That proposal.
2. Those vows.
6. 7. “The Debate” I love this town. And when you love something, you don’t threaten it, you don’t punish it. You fight for it. You take care of it. You put it first.
8. “With my claymaysh?”
9. Just the crows and the beef.
10. “I salsa your face.”
11. Marchtember oneteenth.
12. “I worry that what you just heard was ‘Give me a lot of bacon and eggs.’ What I said was ‘Give me all the bacon and eggs you have.'”
13. Ron knows more than you.
14. Thoughts for Your Thoughts
16. Perd Hapley.
17. “I’m talking to you sir!”
18. EXCEPT FOR TURNIP.
19. Pawnee’s town slogans
20. “The moon shall join your coalition.”
21. “Listening to that tree lighting’s gonna be dope.”
22. “Can you Photoshop your life with better decisions, Jerry?”
24. LESLIE: You’re not from here, right?
TOM: No, I’m from South Carolina.
LESLIE: But you moved to South Carolina from where?
TOM: My mother’s uterus.
26.“The Fight” Jean-Ralphio, dance up on me.
27. Apps and zerts.
28. “I hope no one minds if I live-tweet this bitch.”
29. “It’s not my favorite shirt, but it is my least favorite shirt.”
30. “I’m down to one word a minute. And the word is perflipisklup.”
32. “Ben, is that your real name?…You could do better than that, I’m gonna help you out right now. Your name is Angelo. Angelo, thank you so much for coming out, get a thicker tie, it looks weird on you. It makes your head look like a fish. Secondly, I don’t know where the paperwork is, but when you find it, can you take care of it for us? We don’t have any pens because we’re afraid it’s gonna leak on our shirts. Lastly, I hate the name Angelo, I’m gonna switch it up for you right now. Your new nickname is Jello Shot. What do you think about that, J-Shot?”
33. “Someone is on fire in Ramsett Park.”
34. “Ron and Diane” I of course am Duke Silver and I would like to dedicate this first song to my duchess.
35. Li’l Sebastian
42. Andy’s songs.
44. “The Possum” It went into your laundry and your kitchen and it touched all your bras.
45. “I awesomesauce you.”
46. Marshmallow guns
47. “The calzones…betrayed me.”
48. “We have a couple of house rules, though. You can’t use the front door; you have to climb in through the back window. No personal phone conversations. If you ever speak to me in Spanish, please use the formal ‘usted.’ And no electricity after 6:00 PM. A couple more rules: if you ever watch a sad movie, you have to wear mascara so we can see whether or not you’ve been crying. There’s no noise allowed on Mondays. And no TV after breakfast.”
49. “In the room…doth right over there, uh, hence.”
51. “I never seem to hate you. So I wanna spend the rest of my life with you. Is that cool?”
52. Ben punched a guy in a bowling alley.
53. “Then we go back to my place and snuggle up. Like little buuuuunnies.”
55. “I’d go to a banquet in honor of those Somali pirates if they served bacon-wrapped shrimp.”
56. “I ate it already. I could smell it in your purse before I even parked my car. And now it’s gone, and I hate everything.”
57. “I LOVE NOTHING.”
59. “Flu Season” I have to get ready for the Chamber of Secrets.
60. Leslie’s history of bad dates
61. “I think if you would know anything about me, it would be that I prefer laying wreaths to lighting torches.”
62. “I have the Dorothy Everytime Smurf Girl trophy for excellence in female stuff.”
64. “Never half-ass two things. Whole-ass one thing.”
65. Ron hates metaphors. That’s why his favorite book is Moby Dick.
66. “Yeah, she died like twenty minutes after that.”
67. Ann gets her four seconds with April.
68. “Is she going to powder her vagina?”
69. Skymall camping.
75. “I named my car Michael Fassbender, because they are both German.”
88. “A game is the foot.”
89. Pyramid of Greatness
90. “Emergency Response” Found one chair, got a lead on a second.
91. Morphine Ben
92. “No matter what I do, literally nothing bad can happen to me. I’m like a white male US senator.”
93. Leslie loves Joe Biden, and Joe Biden loves Leslie. He called it an “honor…to meet someone like Leslie Knope, who believes so deeply in public service. She’s an example for men and women across the country that there’s no higher calling than helping other people.” The Vice President was honored to meet a fictional character. Leslie is empathetic and enthusiastic and tireless. If you underestimate her, she’ll take you down, but she’ll still fight for your rights. And she can get you to donate your time and expertise to her cause even when she’s sick.
94. Galentine’s Day. Leslie’s love of Ann. Leslie’s mentorship of April. The Pawnee Goddesses. This is a show about ladies supporting ladies, and it’s glorious. Plus, there was that time Leslie mocked a sheriff for his ridiculous female stereotypes.
95. But feminism is for everyone, and Parks and Rec gets that. Ron Swanson loves strong ladies. Ben would never make Leslie change her last name. Andy takes an Intro to Women’s Studies class. Get it, guys.
97. “He’s a tourist. He vacations in people’s lives, takes pictures, puts them in his scrapbook, and moves on. All he’s interested in are stories. Basically, Leslie, he’s selfish. And you’re not. That’s why you don’t like him.”
98. “Eagle Two.” “Oh thank God.”
99. No one achieves anything alone.
100. “We need to remember what’s important in life: friends, waffles, and work. Or waffles friends work, doesn’t matter. But work is third.”