Parks & Recreation takes its rightful place in the family of quality workplace sitcoms. Set in Pawnee, Indiana, Parks & Rec reminds us of everything great and terrible about local government. Though to be fair, a lot of the citizens are just odd.
Despite being a satire, Parks & Rec remains a pretty positive comedy. After watching any episode, you feel like you walk away better and lighter. It’s a show about friendship, getting through life, and some scarily accurate political predictions.
Here are all the seasons of Parks & Rec ranked.
7 Season 1
There’s no question in anyone’s mind that Season 1 is the weakest of the Parks & Rec repertoire. Let’s be real, who actually remembers Mark Brendanawicz?
Much like The Office, Parks & Rec got off to a rocky start, only really finding its footing in the last few episodes of the first season. It had a similar problem as The Office, with the humor and character picking up in Season 2 and then exploding into goodness from there. However, Season 1 is the only skip-worthy season of the show and you don’t miss too much by not watching it due to what happens in Season 2. In fact, many Parks & Rec fans encourage newcomers to start with Season 2 and then go back to Season 1 to appreciate it. We give props where props are due, but ouch, it’s hard to get through.
6 Season 7
When will TV learn that time skips don’t necessarily make things better? Especially with new technology too close to when we all exist in the present? Season 7 was by no means bad and the entire list just gets better from here. But it probably got more complaints from fans than praises. While the conflict between Ron and Leslie made for some great character development and understanding for both of them, the entire environment felt off. Everyone just got what they wanted and while they definitely worked for it, the payoff felt weaker than in other seasons.
But the ending was by no means bad and it was a nice send-off for the Parks team. It’s not unusual for the last season of a show to be a weaker one, but we were expecting a little more from Parks & Rec.
5 Season 2
This is where the show got out of the Pit. After very mixed reviews on Season 1, the team put their thinking caps on and redeveloped the show’s tone and format. Doing so basically saved the show. Leslie Knope’s character was adjusted and while she remains high-energy, she’s more relatable and grounded. And they dropped the whole thing with Mark, which was for the better considering guest star Chris Pratt was the one who stuck around.
Season 2 marks a huge improvement and sets the show on the right path. But again, the quality and situations only go up from here. And there’s no more Pit! Once the pit became an empty lot, it opened up the possibilities for interdepartmental relations and the inefficiency of local governments getting what appears to be relatively simple things done.
4 Season 6
By now, we all know the rivalry between Pawnee and Eagleton, with Eagleton generally being the better place to live of the two. Kind of. They go bankrupt and Ben Wyatt is absolutely living for it. And Leslie too, she gets her moment of celebration.
After watching Leslie lose her City Council status, it’s nice seeing her get what she didn’t have before and overcome the loss. Going back to the Parks Department, she rallies the troops for the last time and organizes the Unity Concert. And the Decemberists show up? There’s a lot to like in this season, with characters growing and Leslie’s filibuster. But we did lose Ann Perkins and Chris Traeger. So we’ll take points off for that? This is getting hard.
3 Season 5
Buckle up, this is where things get difficult. Parks & Rec is just a really good show, hitting its stride the most in the middle seasons. So season 3-5 are usually the most bingeable and quotable for fans.
Leslie finally gets to be the City Councilwoman she’s always wanted! And it’s great to see her in a position she worked her butt off for in the last season. This season nails the political satire the best out of the others. Now that we see Leslie in power, we see the lowkey/highkey misogyny more clearly laid out among the Council’s ranks and the constant failed attempts at passing laws.
Tom Haverford finally gets a really good business idea and gets his act together to actually work out the details. April starts supporting Ben as a friend and though they’re removed from the rest of the cast, it’s nice seeing their friendship take some massive strides. Oh, and Ron Swanson finds happiness in Diane and fends off Tammy 2. Oh yeah, and Leslie and Ben get married. Finally! Though that was paced well too, so no complaints here.
2 Season 4
Here we go, final two. Season 4 saw Leslie Knope’s campaign for City Council. We got Champion, the three-legged dog and the bestest boy. And that entire ice rink rally with the tiny stage? Comedy gold.
Of course, nobody can forget Bobby Newport. As Leslie’s primary competition, Bobby gets in the race...because his dad tells him to. As the heir of the Sweetums fortune, Bobby really doesn’t have to do anything to secure his future, so that was mildly infuriating. But hey, that’s what good satire is for. Season 4 saw the start of an overarching season plot. Though Season 3 started the trend, the pacing was perfected with Season 4 and had a really nice bookend with Leslie’s win. We’ll give a moment of silence for Jerry’s lost vote.
1 Season 3
And we’ll give another moment of silence to Jerry’s lost painting that Leslie chucked in the lake. Season 3 stands out as the peak of Parks & Rec, mostly because this is where the show hits its stride. Introducing Ben and Chris was the first step in the right direction, providing more variety among the characters. April and Andy start dating and work out way too well. By the end of the season, they’re married.
But most importantly of all, we are introduced to the one and only Li’l Sebastian. And then he’s promptly ripped away. So much fun happened in Season 3, between the flu episode and seeing the Harvest Festival fully succeed. It’s just a good time all around and is widely regarded as the best season of Parks & Rec.