Parks and Recreation is currently in its final season on TV, wrapping up with a half-season, 13-episode seventh season. The show has never reached as large an audience as some of the CBS comedies, but it has a dedicated and loyal fanbase.
The show has one of the best all-around casts in modern TV history, with luminaries like the sweet-but-simple Andy Dwyer (played by now big-time movie star, Chris Pratt), his seems-to-hate-everything wife April Ludgate (played by a perfectly droll Aubrey Plaza), the flashy, Treat-Yo-Self duo of Donna (Retta) and Tom Haverford (stand-up stand-out Aziz Ansari), and the buffoon, Jerry/Larry/Terry (Jim O’Heir), as well as a solid cast of characters added throughout the seasons.
At the heart of Parks and Rec, however, are two characters: Leslie Knope and Ron Swanson. Leslie Knope (played by Golden Globe host extraordinaire, Amy Poehler) is the most dedicated government worker ever to grace the planet earth, working seemingly 100+ hours a week, and single-handedly turning around Pawnee’s (the show’s fictional hometown) local government scene. Ron Swanson (everyone’s favorite, Nick Offerman) is her exact opposite. He is a man’s man circa 1905. He hates big government, and does everything in his power to take down local government from the inside.
The two are also best friends.
Throughout all of Parks and Rec’s first six seasons, Knope is the ying to Swanson’s yang, and vice versa. They work so well together, and are best friends (or in Ron’s words best “workplace acquaintances”) exactly because of their polar opposite nature, as well as their shared love of breakfast food.
However, the big twist to the seventh season was that the show skipped forward three years, and somehow, during that time, Ron and Leslie had a falling out, and now have been pitted against each other.
Of course, given the nature of the show, and their undeniable friendship, it didn’t take long for the two to sit down and work out their issues (much to Ron’s chagrin), which they did in the second half of this most recent Tuesday’s episode (one of the best episodes in the show’s long and successful run). The two talked out the issue between them, and walked off to get an afternoon brunch session that had Ron asking, “Why does anyone eat anything other than breakfast food?” to which Leslie responded, “People are idiots, Ron.”
As the two had this exchange, their backs were turned to the camera, as they walked out of the office, a perfect shot of the perfect friendship.
And really, that’s the beauty of their relationship. On TV, it is rare to see true friendship. There’s so much emphasis on love, or lust, or even duos who don’t get along, that to see a pair, as different as Leslie and Ron, as best buddies in downright inspiring.
On top of that is the fact that Leslie is a woman and Ron is a man. Quick, think about how many TV shows you can name in which a man and a woman have a 100 percent, bona fide platonic relationship as genuine as the one I just described. It is so rare in Hollywood for TV producers to not be tempted into throwing a romantic plot here or there for a couple episodes to keep the viewers engaged.
But that’s bogus. In real life, friendships like Ron and Leslie’s are the best, and most fruitful, relationships there are. Vastly different perspectives, brought together through a few shared interests (and let’s be honest, breakfast food is as good a shared interest as any), and vastly beneficial to each side.
Too often on TV if a man and woman interact there has to be enough sexual tension that a machete is needed to cut through it. That’s the beauty of Ron and Leslie, however, where theirs is a pure friendship, one of the best (and certainly least common) commodities on TV.
Without thinking about it too much, they seem to be the best platonic friendship on any show, certainly within the last decade or so. Pam and Dwight from The Office have a pretty excellent friendship, as well, but that took a lot longer to develop. Here’s to those crazy, breakfast food-loving government officials.