10 Jokes From The Parks & Rec. That Have Already Aged Poorly

For six years we were totally enthralled in the behind-the-scenes look at Pawnee, Indiana's government; more specifically, the Parks and Recreation Department. With Ron Swanson and Leslie Knope leading the way, fans of the show followed a whirlwind of character development, outdated portrayals of women in the workplace, and an array of some pretty outlandish jokes.

Now, with many geniuses in the writing room and seven seasons on their belt, Parks and Rec. was a hit; but within just four years of the show's last season, some of their jokes are falling flat. What was once deemed laughable and "okay" for TV is slowly fading away. While not every fan of the show is offended by these 10 jokes, some fans have showed their disdain for them on message boards, thanks to more serious advances in our culture like the #MeToo Movement and issues revolving around green cards.

These jokes are surely up for debate among fans but they're definitely ruffling a few feathers.

Correction (September 10th): An earlier version of this article incorrectly misquoted April's boyfriend.


In the second season, we're given the episode "The Stakeout." It's date night for Ann and Mark but Leslie can't enjoy the night off because she's too upset and consumed by the fact that her BFF is going on a date with her crush. After hiding in a van for hours looking out after Ann and seeing if they can catch an intruder in the community garden, Leslie and Tom try to get to know each other more.

RELATED: Parks & Rec: 10 Episodes That Actually Tackled Deep Issues

Considering Tom is a man of color, fans are continuously upset at characters on the show of assuming Tom Haverford is from anywhere other than America simply because of his heritage. While in the back of the van, Leslie assumes he came here from "somewhere else." He tells her he was born and raised in South Carolina but she isn't satisfied with his answer and alludes to him being born elsewhere. The moral of the story here is why couldn't Tom be born in America just because his family came from somewhere else?


Chris Pratt as Andy Dwyer in Parks and Recreation

Once Andy finds out that he and April have feelings for each other, he tries to win her over (regardless of that one, small kiss with Ann). However, she tries to move on with another man who speaks little English. After Andy says something to the couple, April's boyfriend asks what he said. “He says he wants to become a woman," she says, and her boyfriend tells him to follow his dreams.

Uh, in what way is a sex change laughable? Although the joke was done in jest, someone being transgender shouldn't be seen as a joke.


Also in the second season, the Parks and Recreation Department is gearing up to welcome visitors from Venezuela in "Sister City." According to quite a few threads, many people were offended by this episode due to the stereotypical nods and insults coming from another culture.

For starters, when the Venezuelan team arrives in Pawnee, they instantly think Tom is a servant because he's a man of color... To make things even more uncomfortable, they want to choose Donna as their female companion for the night due to her size and color as well.

Leslie, the leader of the pack, should have protected her team, but instead told Tom to be a "good host" after he was asked to collect their bags. Come on, Leslie!


It's not very often where Jerry offends us. The poor man is just trying to get by without drawing attention to himself. Nevertheless, in one camping episode, Tom asks Jerry, "What do Jay Z, Lil Wayne, and Drake all have in common?". In response, Jerry quickly says "Oh, I know this one... They are all rap-ists." Not only was Jerry incredibly insensitive but he was extremely judgemental. The short, quick answer is: They're all rappers, Jerry!


Now that Tom is finally divorced from his green-card marriage, Leslie tries to cheer him up by the only way she knows how: taking him to a strip club. And although she says she's a feminist and that her stripper name would Equality, she actually does the opposite which upset a few viewers.

After meeting Sierra (a stripper), she ignores her name and calls her Seabiscuit — even after being corrected twice. Furthermore, she tries to tell Sierra to rethink her life choices which is kind of against the whole women-support-women-thing.


News flash, Ben: everyone is deserving of love!

It's understandable that Parks and Recreation wanted to show another side to Jerry, considering he was bullied every day in the office. It made fans happy knowing he had a wife and three girls waiting for him at home every day after work.

RELATED: Parks And Rec: 5 Times Everyone Was Actually A Good Friend To Jerry (&5 Times They Were Too Mean)

As we know, Jerry isn't the most text-book attractive guy on earth, but his wife is a total bombshell. Ben (most of all) can't seem to fathom how Jerry landed such a knockout and says so multiple times throughout the seasons. "Was she temporarily blind?", he asks. "Like... was she a Russian spy and the KGB forced her to marry Jerry as a cover?", he says another time. Fans found his reactions harsh because it plays into the stigma of "larger" guys not being able to find love or happiness.


Jean-Ralphio. Fans either love him or hate him. As Tom Haverford's best friend, Jean-Ralphio seems to always have a 'get rich quick' scheme. He's a con artist of sorts and everyone can see this except for his father who refuses to believe his children are life suckers.

RELATED: 5 Things Parks & Rec Does Better Than The Office (& Vice Versa)

While many fans are offended by Ralphio, he crosses the line when he sees Ben conversing with Chris. "Are you ding dongs making fake drugs for sophomores, because if true, this guy wants in!" he says. Fans always knew Jean-Ralphio was greasy but to become a fake drug dealer for kids? Too far, man.

3 April's Gay Jokes Fall Flat

April is a very dark person who speaks in a monotone voice day-in and day-out, but she is low-key accepting deep down. Early on we find out that April is in a relationship with two gay men. Fans of the show figured April was "allowed" to get away with some of her demeaning jokes because she was in a polyamorous relationship, but that's not always respectful.

After inviting Ben out one night, he declines due to having a date. "Oh, what's his name?" April replies, which insinuates Ben is gay and she's poking fun at him for it. Likewise, Tom also drops some "jokes" about his metrosexuality — especially when he was opening his store, Rent-a-Swag. "We're not even close to being ready, they're not even done painting that sign. It says 'Tom's bi.' Actually, no that's a good sign." The offense with Tom's joke is that those who are bi or gay love fashion and are more likely to shop, which is another stereotype.


In "Beauty Pageant," Pawnee is hosting a local beauty pageant to award the winner with a cash-prize. Due to needing money, April decides to join and Leslie praises her for it because she's not the "average" beauty. After hearing there's a pageant in town, Tom rushes to his phone to make some calls to try and become a judge.

RELATED: Parks & Rec: April Ludgate’s 10 Most Badass Quotes

Not only is he insensitive to another culture while trying to increase his personal gain ("Just bump that clown, tell them they already have an Asian judge"), but he's also a creep and confirms what most male judges think. Excited by the news of being a judge, he tells Leslie, "I had to make some favors. But if you don't make some favors to look at women in bikinis and assign them numerical grades then what the [heck] are you calling favors for?" *Sigh*

1 The LGBTQ+ Community Was Not Pleased With The Penguin Episode

In the very first episode of season two, Leslie decides to marry two penguins at the Pawnee Zoo because she thought it was a cute gesture. After it turned out the two penguins were male, Leslie was thrown into a 'do you or don't you support gay rights' screaming match. Unfortunately, the LGBTQ+ communtity was upset that Leslie never took a strong stance. She only wanted the attention of the gay community because they were chanting her name. While at a gay bar, April chimes in, "She’s Leslie Knope and she wants to recruit you!”, which plays right into the stereotype that young gays "recruit" others instead of accepting the fact that they were born that way.

NEXT: Parks And Rec: 5 Reasons We Want To Work For The Pawnee Parks And Recreation Department (& 5 We Don't)

More in Lists