In the period of COVID-19 quarantine, we’ve seen a lot of different versions of what stay-at-home entertainment can be. Early on, there was a rush for musicians to perform for audiences live on Zoom or Skype or Facetime or whatever… and that was fun a few times, before we all realized that the low-quality, high-compression audio and video of these formats leaves a lot to be desired.
Late-night shows are valiantly continuing on, conducting interviews via the internet, but again, the energy of a live interview seems to be missing. For these reasons, I was incredibly skeptical when the cast and crew of Parks and Recreation announced they would be airing a special, one-time-only episode of Parks and Rec that was written and filmed entirely in quarantine. Parks and Rec is one of my favorite shows, but it felt like it would be difficult to pull off an enjoyable reunion special from the confines of the cast’s own homes 5 years after the show went off the air.
But when the episode actually aired, I was blown away by the fact that Parks and Rec figured out the content-in-quarantine formula and delivered a truly wonderful half-hour of TV. Michael Schur’s hit comedy managed to stage a 30-minute comeback for the ages, providing laughs and a few moments of moving human connection.
In retrospect, I guess it was possible to see this coming. At its core, Parks and Recreation was a show about the power of teamwork and community, and those just so happen to be the exact themes everyone practicing responsible social distancing are choosing to believe in. I’m not sure if the miracle that was the Parks and Recreation special can be recreated by any other show, but I sure am grateful they managed to pull it off even once.
The Parks and Recreation Special is available to stream through the NBC app, and it is essential viewing for fans of the show. If you’ve never seen Parks and Recreation, well, you’re in luck, as the entire original series is streaming on Netflix.