Home > #3, Media grammar > Parks and Recreation

Parks and Recreation

Parks and Recreation is a situation comedy shown on NBC.  This show is the portrayal of the Parks and Recreation office for Pawnee, Indiana.  Through different situations and the character portrayals you can see many different subtexts in this show.

One of these subtexts may be that women should not be in powerful positions.  The character Leslie Knope, played by Amy Poehlar, is always talking about her ambitions to move up in government.  Many times when Leslie is telling the audience of her future goals the story line progresses to show how this is not something that would be likely in her future.  Since it is a comedic show this is done in a way to amuse the audience.  But, by doing this in episode after episode it can be seen that this subtext does come through in the action of the show.

Another subtext that can be seen in this show is a criticized view of government and more specifically local government.  By having the show revolve around the Parks department it already trivializes the work that government does.  It also takes turn poking fun at different departments within their own local government.  Again this is done to create something that is entertaining to watch but these ideas are brought to the viewer’s attention for a reason.  If it weren’t something worth making fun of, the show would not choose to target those certain areas.

The last example of subtext that I want to talk about regarding Parks and Recreation is that the show creates the thought that romantic relationships aren’t supposed to work.  The show highlights many different relationships in the show and of the relationships show only one is shown in a positive light.  Tom had a green card marriage that ended in divorce, Ron Swanson is very open about the fact that he has been divorced twice, Leslie is shown having two different relationships that don’t work out, Anne and Andy had a very dysfunctional relationship at the start of season one, and April is “dating” a guy that is gay who has a boyfriend.   The only relationship that is shown as working is the relationship Mark and Anne.  I feel that all of these different bad portrayals of relationships send the message that almost no relationship works.


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  1. tessdoez
    January 15, 2011 at 1:22 am

    Great subtext analysis–all three are quite insightful.

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