Parks and Recreation Reunion Recap: Greetings From 2015

Parks and Recreation has only been off the air for five years, but what a five years it has been. When the NBC sitcom about a tireless, obsessive, irrepressibly kind public servant—Amy Poehler‘s Leslie Knope—and her beloved colleagues aired its finale, on February 24, 2015, America had a very different collective self-image. A global network of Ebola fighters had just won a tough, worrisome but nonetheless decisive battle against that deadly virus. After a devastating summer of police violence, the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement at least seemed poised to effect positive change. As pop culture was making unprecedented strides in trans representation, an unstoppable queer rights movement was about to make same-sex marriage legal in all 50 states. Our first black President still had two years left in his second term, and Donald Trump was four months away from officially kicking off his campaign. The idea that the best way to represent a red state like Indiana—home to Parks‘ fictional city of Pawnee and the titular department Leslie helps run—was as a hub of cheerful, multicultural, bipartisan progress didn’t seem that farfetched.

But by April 30, 2020, as the show returned to NBC for a one-off reunion special to benefit Feeding America, the national mood had—to put it extremely mildly—shifted. In contrast to post-racial Pawnee, we’ve had to contend with a fresh wave of white nationalism and xenophobia; “kids in cages” is not a phrase I can imagine coming out of the mouth of anyone in that city’s government. #MeToo has all but squashed the notion that a woman could rise to a position of power without encountering some form of sexual misconduct. (That reckoning eventually came for both series regular Aziz Ansari and—to a far greater, more disappointing extent—frequent guest star Louis C.K. “I don’t remember when I heard the rumors about him,” co-creator Mike Schur said at the time. “But I’m sure it was before the last time he was on Parks and Rec. And that sucks. And I’m sorry.”) And a country where Leslie Knope works in the Department of the Interior, a position to which she ascended in the finale, is not a country that could be blindsided by the novel coronavirus. Her gentle, scrupulously informed competence can’t exist in the same universe where entire news cycles are devoted to parsing whether the President suggested drinking bleach.

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And so the reunion takes place not in the real Indiana or America but in a sort of utopian alternate Indiana, USA—one that has also somehow fallen prey to the COVID-19 pandemic. Scripted by Schur with a handful of the show’s original writers and filmed via smartphone from each social-distancing star’s home, the half-hour episode is a collage of video chats and local news programs. Leslie has, of course, instituted a daily “7 PM phone tree” to make sure all of her former co-workers, spread out across the country though they may be, are mentally as well as physically healthy. Her loving

How to watch tonight’s ‘Parks and Recreation’ TV reunion

NBC and Universal Television’s highly anticipated “A Parks and Recreation Special” airs tonight, five years after the beloved TV show wrapped its seven-season run in 2015.

Announced last week, the scripted, 30-minute special will benefit hunger-relief nonprofit Feeding America’s COVID-19 Response Fund and feature the series’ original cast.

Amy Poehler, Rashida Jones, Aziz Ansari, Nick Offerman, Aubrey Plaza, Chris Pratt, Adam Scott, Rob Lowe, Jim O’Heir and Retta will be there, as well as “several guest stars from the Pawnee universe,” according to NBC’s announcement.

“Hi! I’m Amy Poehler, inviting you to a very special reunion of ‘Parks and Rec,’ all shot from our homes,” Poehler said in a promotional video Monday. “We are coming together to raise money for Feeding America, and we hope you’ll join us.”

In the special, the Indiana town’s most optimistic resident, Leslie Knope (Poehler), connects with fellow citizens in a time of social distancing.

In a recent conference call with Entertainment Weekly, series co-creator Michael Schur said that “the whole special is not about the disease, honestly. It’s about people coping with it and sort of trying to navigate in their daily lives.”

“A Parks and Recreation Special” will air tonight at 8:30 p.m. Pacific on NBC, preceded at 8 p.m. by “The Paley Center Salutes Parks and Recreation,” which was filmed at last year’s PaleyFest LA.

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Parks and Recreation’s Reunion Special Is a Such a Gift

Leslie (Amy Poehler) and Ron (Nick Offerman), together again, albeit apart.
Photo: YouTube

A Parks and Recreation Special, the socially distanced, one-off reunion episode of the beloved NBC comedy, is an act of service. That’s true in the sense that it exists to raise money for Feeding America. But it’s also true because the whole episode was well-executed, heartfelt fan service.

The term “fan service” usually applies in a negative sense to moments that cater too blatantly to fan desires. The Parks and Rec reunion, in keeping with that concept, was packed with callbacks and Easter eggs designed to strike a chord with loyal viewers of the show, which ended its run in 2015 after a final season that flash-forwarded Pawnee’s finest to 2017. But all the shoutouts didn’t feel like pandering so much as gifts from the team that worked on the series and wanted to do something nice for the people who love and miss it.

In the socially distanced reunion, set in 2020 during the coronavirus pandemic, every central character returned: Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler), Ben Wyatt (Adam Scott), Ron Swanson (Nick Offerman), April Ludgate (Aubrey Plaza), Andy Dwyer (Chris Pratt), Tom Haverford (Aziz Ansari), Donna Meagle (Retta), Ann Perkins (Rashida Jones), Chris Traeger (Rob Lowe), and even Jerry/Garry Gergich (Jim O’Heir). So did many supporting favorites, including Jean-Ralphio Saperstein (Ben Schwartz), his hair looking as full as ever; talk show host Joan Callamezzo (Mo Collins); “newsman” Perd Hapley (Jay Jackson); City Councilman/orthodontist Jeremy Jamm (Jon Glaser); and, kicking off the whole show, Leslie’s former political opponent Bobby Newport (Paul Rudd), who learned before our eyes that the world is in the midst of a pandemic: “Is something going on? I haven’t watched the news lately. [Long pause.] WHAT?”

On top of all the returning faces, there were tons of familiar jokes and references to old episodes. Ben’s obsessions with stop-motion animation and his self-created board game, Cones of Dunshire, reared their heads immediately. Later, so did Andy’s alter egos Bert Macklin and Johnny Karate, Tom’s penchant for ridiculous business ideas such as face masks with other people’s teeth on them (“Stay safe and look fresh as hell with Timotheé Chalamet’s smile”), and everyone’s disdain for Jerry/Garry. Even the teleconferencing platform the characters used was powered by Gryzzl, the insidious Amazon/Google-esque company that figured prominently in the final season. According to her profile, Donna, naturally, has achieved Elite Gryzzl Gold Status.

All of that “hey remember this?” nostalgia could have felt cheap, but it didn’t. In addition to having an all-star cast who were able to slide easily right back into character, Parks and Rec assembled an Avengers-level group of its former writers to script this extremely DIY production, including creator Mike Schur, Megan Amram, Dave King, Joe Mande, Aisha Muharrar, Matt Murray, and Jen Statsky, all of whom also worked on The Good Place, which shared the same skeptical yet warm-hearted sensibility that Parks always had.

The structure of the episode

How to Watch Thursday’s ‘Parks & Recreation’ Reunion

Illustration for article titled How to Watch Thursdays Parks  Recreation Reunion

Image: NBC

If anyone was going to be the best at social distancing while also simultaneously keeping all their friends happy and connected, it would be Leslie Knope.

While we all bid a fond farewell to Leslie and the Parks & Recreation crew in February 2015, the gang is getting back together for one more show. Even better, it’s one more show set in our current timeline. Yes, the one where we’re all staying at home to stay safe from COVID-19.

A brand new episode of Parks & Recreation will air this Thursday at 8:30pm ET on NBC to raise money for Feeding America’s COVID-19 Response Fund.

The show will include the whole original cast, which includes Amy Poehler, Rashida Jones, Aziz Ansari, Nick Offerman, Chris Pratt, Adam Scott, Aubrey Plaza, Rob Lowe, Jim O’Heir, and Retta. It will follow the Parks & Rec’s cast’s attempts to stay connected while also staying apart, attempts that are of course spearheaded by everyone’s favorite government employee, Leslie Knope.

All of the footage for the episode was shot in the actors’ respective homes.

If you want to watch, then the easiest way to do so is obviously to just tune in via your television. NBC is free to watch over the air, so as long as you have cable or a digital antenna you should be good to go.

Now Ready for Pre-Order, the Inevitable Disney Face Masks Are…

If not, then the majority of streaming services offer access to NBC as well. With all of them, you can get a free trial for a week and catch the show for free. Here’s a rundown of your options and what they’ll all cost if you forget to cancel that free trial.

Hulu with Live TV $54.99 per month

YouTubeTV $49.99 per month

AT&T TV Now $50 per month

FuboTV $55 for the first month

Sling TV – $20 for the first month

It’s also worth noting that NBC isn’t going to be available on every service in every single market. While you’ll be able to watch it on most services in most places, make sure it’s available where you are on the service you’ve chosen before you sign up. You don’t want to be a Jerry and accidentally sign up for the service that won’t have it available.

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Review: ‘Parks and Recreation’ TV reunion was perfectly done

The main cast and a nice slice of the supporting one reconvened after five years Thursday night on NBC for “A Parks and Recreation Special.” They came to raise money to feed those in need and to send good vibrations and embedded mental health PSAs to the world at large. It was the right idea at the right time — a paean to community at the very moment in this strange global adventure when Selfishness is asserting itself in the face of Sacrifice — and as perfectly executed as a Simone Biles floor routine. And performed on the traditional night.

I guess I didn’t realize how much I loved and have missed this show, but the old opening credits put a catch in my throat. (Perhaps I just miss 2015.) As absurd as the series could be, “Parks and Rec” was the rare series in whose characters I felt completely emotionally invested, over whose fictional fates I fretted or rejoiced. And somehow it felt that the truth of what was on-screen was inextricable from, and an accurate reflection of, the relationships of the people who put it there. (Except for everyone hating Jerry.) This isn’t always the case, to be sure — we are forever learning about chummy characters played for years by actors who couldn’t abide one another — and if you happen to know anything contrary about the people in “Parks and Recreation,” I wish you would keep it to yourself.

“A Parks and Recreation Special” is one nice surprise after another, and I was glad to have each be, you know, surprising. It’s like a party where you expect to see certain people and then it’s, like, “Oh my gosh, there’s so and so! And, look, it’s that person! And you, how I have forgotten you?” (If you haven’t watched it yet but plan to, and you love the series, for goodness sake, stop reading now. I’m putting this extra sentence in to give you time to back out, before your eyes skip ahead.)

Most of the special is set up as a series of video calls, arranged by Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler), concerned that her web of forever friends and old colleagues from the Pawnee, Ind., parks department are not staying sufficiently connected. As before, Leslie takes everything on her shoulders, and likes it. As all new productions will be for at least the near future, it’s set in the situation we are in: “Have you been practicing social distancing?” Leslie asks Nick Offerman’s Ron Swanson. “I’ve been practicing social distancing since I was 4 years old,” he replies, the actor’s own woody workshop an appropriate backdrop for his character.

Obviously there’s a challenge in making a show about community when everyone is living in their own castle with the drawbridge up, especially when some of your main characters are married to one another while the actors who play them are not. The writers, led by co-creator Michael Schur, isolated the characters in appropriate ways: Leslie

‘Parks and Recreation’ Reunion: Scripted Fundraiser Special on NBC

Our Pawnee pals are back… and for a good cause.

The cast of Parks and Recreation will reunite for a one-off scripted special to raise money for food banks during the coronavirus crisis, TVLine has learned. The half-hour special, titled A Parks and Recreation Special, will air Thursday, April 30 at 8:30/7:30c on NBC, and will feature the full Parks and Rec cast reprising their roles, including Amy Poehler, Nick Offerman, Rashida Jones, Aziz Ansari, Adam Scott, Rob Lowe, Chris Pratt, Aubrey Plaza, Retta and Jim O’Heir. (“Several guest stars from the Pawnee universe” may appear as well, per the network.)

The scripted special’s story is ripped directly from today’s pandemic-heavy headlines: “Pawnee’s most dedicated civil servant, Leslie Knope, is determined to stay connected to her friends in a time of social distancing.” (Yep, we could’ve guessed that Leslie would be the one to organize a massive Zoom group chat. But who’s bringing the waffles?)

“Like a lot of other people, we were looking for ways to help and felt that bringing these characters back for a night could raise some money,” executive producer Michael Schur said in a statement. “I sent a hopeful email to the cast, and they all got back to me within 45 minutes. Our old Parks and Rec team has put together one more 30-minute slice of (quarantined) Pawnee life, and we hope everyone enjoys it. And donates!”

The money raised will go to Feeding America’s COVID-19 Response Fund, which enables food banks to provide food and resources to “the most vulnerable members of the community during this difficult time.” NBCUniversal, the Parks and Rec cast and sponsors State Farm and Subaru of America will match donations up to $500,000 as well. Watch a promo for the special right here:

Parks and Recreation wrapped up a seven-season run on NBC in 2015, earning a pair of Emmy nominations for Outstanding Comedy Series, with Poehler winning a Golden Globe for her performance as Leslie Knope in 2014.

What do you think the Pawnee crew is up to these days? Speculate away in the comments!

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‘Parks and Recreation’ reunion to raise money for Feeding America

LOS ANGELES — The original cast members of “Parks and Recreation” are getting back to work for a coronavirus-related fundraising special.

Amy Poehler, Rashida Jones, Aziz Ansari, Nick Offerman and Adam Scott are among the sitcom’s stars to be featured in the half-hour special airing 8:30 p.m. EDT Thursday, April 30, on NBC.

The story reflects the real-life crisis, with Poehler’s Leslie Knope striving to stay in touch with her friends while observing social distancing.

“Like a lot of other people, we were looking for ways to help and felt that bringing these characters back for a night could raise some money,” said executive producer Michael Schur. “I sent a hopeful email to the cast and they all got back to me within 45 minutes.”

Schur said he hopes everyone enjoys the special and, as he said in a statement, “donates!”

Contributions will go to Feeding America’s COVID-19 Response Fund, which is helping food banks serve vulnerable community members, NBC said. Up to $500,000 in donations made through May 21 will be matched with contributions from NBC Universal, the sitcom’s cast, writers and producers, and State Farm and Subaru of America.

“Parks and Recreation,” about an Indiana’s town idiosyncratic public officials, ended its seven-season run in 2015.

Other cast members taking part in the special include Aubrey Plaza, Chris Pratt, Rob Lowe, Jim O’Heir and Retta. Guests from the sitcom’s “Pawnee universe may pop in,” NBC said.

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Parks and Recreation is getting a one-off reunion episode next week

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Amy Poehler as Leslie Knope in Parks and Recreation.


NBC

In some of the best news since the Friends reunion special was announced, Parks and Recreation is coming back for a one-off scripted reunion special. It’ll air on NBC on April 30 at 8:30 p.m. ET/PT, filling our screens once more with the warm and fuzzy world of Pawnee, Indiana.

“Like a lot of other people, we were looking for ways to help and felt that bringing these characters back for a night could raise some money,” said show co-creator Michael Schur. The half-hour special will help raise money for Feeding America’s COVID-19 Response Fund.

“I sent a hopeful email to the cast and they all got back to me within 45 minutes. Our old ‘Parks and Rec’ team has put together one more 30-minute slice of (quarantined) Pawnee life and we hope everyone enjoys it. And donates!”

The episode will see Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler) do her utmost to “stay connected to her friends in a time of social distancing,” according to NBC.

We can expect almost all the incredible cast to be there, including Poehler, Rashida Jones, Aziz Ansari, Nick Offerman, Aubrey Plaza, Chris Pratt, Adam Scott, Rob Lowe, Jim O’Heir and Retta. And don’t be surprised if “several guest stars from the Pawnee universe” pop in (fingers crossed for any reference to Li’l Sebastian).

Poehler dropped the special bombshell in a teaser on Twitter, including that the “all-new story” will be shot from the actors’ homes (they’ll presumably be in character).

After seven seasons, Parks and Recreation came to an end in 2015. Last March, the cast and creators spoke on a panel for a 10th anniversary reunion at PaleyFest, hinting a reunion episode may not be on the cards, but Schur did say, “I would never ever say never.”

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NBC To Show ‘Parks And Recreation’ Reunion To Raise Money For Coronavirus Relief

A special “Parks and Recreation” reunion will be arriving April 30 on NBC.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, the reunion will follow Leslie Knope as she remains “determined to stay connected with her friends and colleagues during a time of social distancing.” THR reported the main cast members will all be in the reunion, including Chris Pratt and Nick Offerman. (REVIEW: William Finds His Purpose In The New ‘Westworld‘ Episode ‘Decoherence,’ Maeve Is On The Warpath Against Dolores)

The reunion will raise money for Feeding America’s COVID-19 Response Fund. State Farm, Subaru and NBCUniversal have all agreed to pitch in money to help in the relief efforts.

You can watch Amy Poehler break down the situation below.

This is a genius idea by NBC. “Parks and Rec” is one of the greatest shows ever made and there’s no doubt about that at all.

It’s right in the tier below “The Office” and “Always Sunny.” It’s withstood the test of time, has millions of dedicated fans, gave the world Nick Offerman as Ron Swanson and introduced us to Chris Pratt.

It’s one of the most inspiring and uplifting shows you’ll ever find. Now, we’re getting a special reunion episode when we need it more than ever.

This upcoming Friday, we’ll return to Pawnee for a special shot in the actors’ homes. It’s a unique situation, but I think it’ll be very entertaining.

Make sure to tune in April 30 on NBC! It should be a hell of a fun time.

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