Friends and Parks & Recreation could be part of the same universe, as a connection between Rachel Green and Ben Wyatt suggests so. Films and TV shows existing in the same universe is a common practice nowadays, although a somewhat recent one. Characters jumping back and forth between series (or films) don’t surprise viewers anymore, but it’s not something that was seen in series like Parks & Recreation, let alone Friends, which came out much earlier.
Friends made its debut in 1994 and ended in 2004 after ten seasons. The series followed a group of six young adults (Phoebe, Monica, Rachel, Ross, Joey, Chandler) living in New York City and dealing with the ups and downs of adulthood. Parks & Recreation, on the other hand, debuted in 2009 and ended in 2015. It followed the daily lives of Leslie Knope, a perky bureaucrat working in the Parks Department of Pawnee, Indiana, and her coworkers and friends. Both are set in different places and environments, but a detail in an episode of Friends has made fans believe these two series exist in the same universe.
In Friends season 7, specifically in the episode “The One With All The Candy”, Rachel arrives to Monica’s apartment and tells her about her relationship with her assistant, Tag, and how they are taking it slow as she doesn’t sleep with guys on the first date. Monica immediately fires back with a list of guys Rachel supposedly did so with, and the list includes a “Ben Wyatt”. A Reddit user even did the math on this, and came up with the conclusion that at that time (season 7 aired in 2000), Parks & Recreation’s Ben Wyatt would have been 26, and Rachel 29 – Tag was 25, so it’s not improbable that Rachel could have been attracted to another guy younger than her.
Some viewers have gone as far as to theorize how these two could have met, the most popular one saying Rachel either took a skiing trip to Minnesota (because if Friends taught something about Rachel was that she likes to go skiing) or Ben attended New York Comic-Con (because he’s a huge fan of all things pop culture) and they somehow crossed paths – and had a brief romance. As both series were broadcast on NBC, many fans find it quite possible that there was a subtle crossover between them.
Of course, neither the creators of Friends nor the people behind Parks & Recreation have commented on this, but it’s unlikely that the “Ben Wyatt" namedrop has something to do with Leslie Knope’s husband – it’s more a happy coincidence than evidence of a crossover or a “foreshadowing” of sorts, but it’s fun to imagine the dynamics between these two characters.