Most TV shows make people from small towns look either stupid or saintly. Parks and Rec lets them be normal.
Parks and Recreation doesn't have cliffhangers. Built around Amy Poehler's character, Leslie Knope, deputy director of for a parks department in fictional Pawnee, Indiana, the show's storylines seem intentionally pedestrian. Most weeks, nothing too dramatic happens. A prized horse goes missing, for instance, or a few friends take a hunting trip. The show's entire first season centered on Leslie's attempt to turn the abandoned construction of Pawnee's Lot 48 (Pynchon reference, anyone?) into a new city park. Certainly, the romance between Leslie and Ben, played by dreamy Adam Scott, isn't terribly compelling—not in the traditional mold of a long-term, will-they-won't-they sitcom romance, like Jim and Pam, Ross and Rachel, or Sam and Diane.
But who cares? There's only one romance on the show that matters. No man—not Ben, or Mark, a small-town Lothario who left after the second season—will ever wrest Leslie's heart from her one true love. That would be the city of Pawnee itself. To understand her passion for Pawnee, and so understand what makes Parks and Rec so quietly appealing, it's important to learn a little about Leslie's parents. Superficially, at least, she looks the offspring of two characters that preceded her on NBC's Thursday nights: Steve Carrell as Michael Scott on The Office, and Tina Fey's Liz Lemon on 30 Rock.