The secret to the enduring success of “Parks and Recreation”? The show excelled at putting characters comically at odds with one another, while building unlikely bonds. It also understood how to play emotional moments with genuine sincerity, using comedy bits to underscore, but not dilute the sentiment. And it celebrated well-intentioned, if not always successful, civic efforts and the power of positivity without overt cynicism.
But perhaps most importantly, it knew how to populate Pawnee with fresh, funny and comforting elements that resembled the silliest parts of the communities we know: Treat Yo’ Self Day, Galentine’s Day, Li’l Sebastian, Mouse Rat, Duke Silver, Gryzzl, Johnny Karate, the Cones of Dunshire, “Money Please!” and so much more. All of these elements are on exemplary display in this collection of the 30 most essential episodes of the sitcom that made government feel good before we knew we needed it.