15 Reasons Why ‘Parks and Rec’ Was Just Miles Ahead of ‘The Office’
It’s still tough to believe that 'Parks and Recreation' and 'The Office' are being mentioned in the same breath. Worse is the side by side comparison between the two. Both shows are filmed mockumentary style, and they both come from Greg Daniels and Michael Schur, and finally, both shows target the same comedy geek audience. But the similarities end there, and while most people argue about which is the better NBC sitcom between the two, here are 15 reasons to make you believe that 'Parks and Rec' is way better than 'The Office.'
PARKS' WRITING TEAM KNEW EXACTLY WHAT THE AUDIENCE WANTED
Many promising shows have died even before they could hit their stride because studio executives didn't know how to connect with their audience. While 'The Office' had its British counterpart and Steve Carell to get the ball rolling and create hype for the show, Parks had to gather its audience by itself, and Amy Poehler couldn’t compare to Steve Carell regarding popularity and brand name recognition. Showrunners Michael Schur and Greg Daniels made sure that 'Parks' remained relevant and entertaining over the years because they knew what would be most appealing to their viewers.
" PARKS' CAST WAS JUST TOO GOOD
Steve Carell (Michael Scott) got plenty of attention when Anchorman came out in 2004, but 'The Office' cemented his star status even further. John Krasinski (Jim Halpert) has become a top celebrity; listed by Time as one of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2018. However, other cast members haven’t had much going on for them since Dunder Mifflin closed up shop.
On the other hand, 'Parks' gave us Chris Pratt (Star-Lord from Marvel Studios’ Guardians of the Galaxy, and one of Hollywood's leading stars), Aziz Ansari (creator and star of the Netflix series Master of None), as well as Aubrey Plaza (currently starring as Lenny Busker on FX’s Legion). Other members of the cast who are also doing well include Rob Lowe, Adam Scott, and Rashida Jones.
'PARKS' FEATURED BETTER GUEST STARS
Here’s the comparison of the guest stars of both shows: 'The Office' had Tim Olyphant, Idris Elba, Kathy Bates, Will Ferrell, Ray Romano, Will Arnett, and Jim Carrey. The last four guest stars all appeared in the same episode. On the other hand, 'Parks' featured Louis CK, Lucy Lawless, Parker Posey, Kristen Bell, Paul Rudd. Other celebrities and D.C. power people that turned up in 'Parks' include Barbara Boxer, Madeleine Albright, Newt Gingrich, Michelle Obama, Joe Biden, and John McCain. There’s no contest between both shows as the quality and quantity of guest stars in 'Parks' are miles ahead of that of 'The Office.'
"PARKS' " CHARACTER INCLUSION MADE MORE IMPACT
'Parks' made the best choice ever by removing Mark Brendanawicz (Paul Schneider) and replacing him with two great additions, Ben Wyatt (Adam Scott) and Chris Traeger (Rob Lowe). Both Wyatt and Traeger made an instant impact and were featured well as the love interests of Ann and Leslie respectively.
Apart from this, they were also an integral part of the "Parks'" legacy throughout the show. For 'The Office,' they already had an initial strong cast, but they made no efforts to add interesting characters after the first few seasons. Apart from Andy Bernard (Ed Helms), there wasn’t any other outstanding cast member.
CHARACTERS ON 'PARKS' WITNESSED FASTER AND MORE IMPORTANT DEVELOPMENT
Michael Scott didn’t change much from his early role as a selfish, awkward, and slightly adorable dummy till he left Dunder Mifflin with a bride-to-be. As for Jim, Pam, and Dwight, they had more growth because they had more screen time than the other cast members. The other supporting cast members were drab at best, and most of them added little or no value to 'The Office's' legacy.
While 'The Office' had nine seasons to effect changes in their characters’ developments, 'Parks' only had seven, and they made sure that all the cast members went through significant career and personal evolution during the series. Compare the characters of Leslie, Ben, Ron, Tom, Andy, and Chris in the early seasons with how they were at the end of their 'Parks' run. You’d notice a vast difference in their personal developments.
ANN IS BETTER THAN KAREN
Rashida Jones’ performance of Karen on 'The Office' was just bad – this has nothing to do with Jones’ herself but rather, the character she was saddled to portray. From the start of the series, Karen’s presence on the show was to be anything but Pam. So we ended up having a pretty face in corporate clothes, whom viewers knew was never going to end up with Jim.
On the flipside, we had Jones on 'Parks,' starring as Ann; an angry citizen at a zoning meeting and the caretaker of Andy Dwyer. Her character was able to grow so much, and also able to worm her way into the central theme of the 'Parks' experience as a result of her relationship with Leslie. Her character was much more grounded on 'Parks' than in 'The Office' even with all of her complex narratives - (what’s with dating Tom though?).
ONE NAME: RON SWANSON
The general belief is that one character can’t make an entire series, but Nick Offerman’s portrayal of the stern, yet loveable Ron Swanson is enough to change that. The heavily-mustached department director could have been an annoying character, but the writing staff turned him into a diverse yet complete one; Offerman did justice to his roles perfectly. Instead of being a static cast, Swanson is so many qualities put in one person – kind, wise, cranky, fair, irritable, a talented saxophonist, and so much more. All these add more depth to 'Parks' that makes 'The Office' incomparable.
THE OFFICE WASTED JAMES SPADER'S TALENTS
During the season 7 finale, 'Search Committee,' James Spader appeared as the mysterious and confident Robert California, interviewing for the branch Manager position left by Michael Scott. James looked like a promising inclusion to bring back the glory days of 'The Office.' However, he turned out to be a creepy, lecherous, functioning alcoholic/drug addict boss. He could have been the comic engine that drove the show, but his character was neutered off, and his best performance was that of his first appearance.
'PARKS' GIVES A GLIMPSE OF THE COMEDY GENIUS OF AZIZ ANSARI
Without Aziz Ansari, Tom Haverford could have easily been a cardboard cut-out with swagger without any depth. In the initial seasons, Ansari turned jokes into memes and added some uber-douche on classic Kramerisms which made them look new to viewers. Ansari has since evolved into an excellent comedian, a writer, producer, and creator after his time on 'Parks' and 'Recreation.' The notoriously lazy government employee, Haverford also morphed into his character by the end of the series and continued to make viewers laugh with his ‘swaggish’ antics.
JIM AND PAM ARE INSUFFERABLE
For those who believe that Jim and Pam made the greatest TV couple ever – you are all entitled to some “thumbs-down.” Pam had a single role to play on 'The Office,' and that was to be Jim's love interest. Initially, the writers thought of portraying her as an artist but eventually settled with her being a worse salesman than Jim, and then a mum.
In her first few episodes on 'The Office,' she was perpetually engaged to the resident drunken person, Roy till the “Booze Cruise” episode. The pair had so many things that didn’t make sense about their relationship including how they both indulge in lying so much; how Pam almost banged Brian; the boom mic guy in season 9, and how Jim makes a terrible father. The two of them just don’t add up right.
'PARKS' HAS BEEN CONSISTENT OVER THE YEARS
'Parks' may have faltered a little bit in Seasons 5 and 6, but their immediate recovery in the following season was a thing of beauty. 'The Office,' however, couldn’t keep up with the insane heights they set in seasons 2 and 3. Hence the momentum started dwindling in season 4, and by the time Jim and Pam got hitched, it was almost impossible for 'The Office' to recover its past form.
The best episodes of 'Parks' ("Flu Season (Season 3 Episode 2)," "The Fight (Season 3 Episode 13)" "Pawnee Rangers (Season 4 Episode 4)") match the best episodes of 'The Office' ("The Injury, (Season 2 Episode 12)" "The Dundies (Season 2 Episode 1)," "Casino Night (Season 2 Episode 22)"). However, the worst episodes of 'The Office' (mainly all episodes in season 8 and 9) can’t hold a candle to the worst episodes of Parks.
'THE OFFICE' DRAGGED ON FOR TOO LONG
Michael Scott was an integral part of 'The Office,' and even if he wasn’t your favorite character, the show relied on him heavily. The performances of Dwight and Jim are incomplete without their interactions with Michael Scott. His dysfunctional relationship with Jan made one of the best viewing of the show, as well as his search for love – ending with his proposal to Holly Flax. The series would have been better off if the whole thing had stopped there, but they still trudged on and added two final seasons – which was a waste of every ones’ time.
THE 'PARKS' FINALE WAS SIGNIFICANTLY BETTER
The finale of 'The Office' wasn't too bad, but it wasn’t anything memorable, either. The wedding between Angela and Dwight made a touching scene, but every other thing that surrounded the big event was unnecessary and wasn't up to standard with the earlier quality of the show. 'Parks' took a bold leap by doing a series of time leaps to show how each character ended up eventually. This idea was bold and risky because it felt like a cheap way to wrap up the series, but it was neatly done such that it felt organic instead of cheap.
SLAPSTICK SILLINESS WINS OVER CRINGE-WORTHY AWKWARDNESS
'The Office' introduced American viewers to the intense awkwardness that made the British version even better. No one was better at it than Michael Scott, but this meant that other characters always had to play the straight man. And when Scott left Dunder Mifflin, there was a void that the other casts struggled to fill because the series had been overly-dependent on Steve Carell’s stellar performances.
The creators didn’t make the same mistake in 'Parks'' as they went for a more direct approach of silly sight gags and slapstick physical comedy. Unlike 'The Office,' 'Parks' allowed all the characters to have free rein and explore all the possible avenues that could make the show even more likable.
'THE OFFICE' IS A COPY OF ANOTHER SITCOM
'The Office' is an adaptation of the original BBC series of the same name with Ricky Gervais at the helm of affairs. It was adapted for American television by executive producer Greg Daniels who thought the concept would do well airing in the States. After a few tweaks and improvements, the series debuted on NBC in 2005 and aired 201 episodes over nine seasons.
'The Office,' 'Parks and Recreation' all shared the same creators. Hence they used all the experience they had garnered in 'The Office' to make 'Parks' outstanding. The sitcom/mockumentary had 14 Primetime Emmy Award nominations and was named as TIME’s number one television series in 2012. Are there other reasons we might have missed? Which are your favorite characters in both sitcoms? Let us know in the comments section below.