Here Is the Best ‘Parks and Recreation’ Episode From Every Season of the Series
Here you go, you beautiful, rule-breaking moths
My favorite television show in the world is Parks and Recreation. I love it so much that I named my cat after my dream husband. (Yes, his name is Benjamin Wyatt the Cat.) And so, when it comes to ranking the best episodes of the series, it is hard and the only way I could do it (without just listing all of the run from “Road Trip” through the rest of the series) was to separate it by season. And yes, there will be controversies because I picked my favorite episodes from each season, and sure, I will probably throw in an honorable mention or two because again, this is my favorite series.
The show, which has the character I am most like in this world Leslie Knope, was a highlight for Amy Poehler’s career, the first big thing she did post-Saturday Night Live, and changed the way so many of us viewed her brand of comedy. It gave us characters like Ron Swanson, Chris Traeger, Ann Perkins, Andy Dwyer, April Ludgate, and so many more, and was just a joy. So, let’s get into each season and why this episode is my favorite and why.
“Rock Show” is the best episode of a season that many people want to skip when they’re watching Parks and Recreation. I think they’re wrong for it because it sets up so many great moments throughout the rest of the show (and particularly wraps up beautifully in the finale of the show when we get to see just how important Leslie Knope is to the town of Pawnee and the citizens she helps). But why I picked “Rock Show” instead of just the “Pilot” episode (which is my honorary mention since it gives us Ann and Leslie’s friendship) is because it is an episode that really highlights some of the best parts of Andy Dwyer.
I’m talking about his singing. Because yes, this is the episode where Andy Dwyer stands on stage and performs “The Pit,” a song that he wrote about falling into the pit. It’s perfect.
My choice for season 2 should be no shock to anyone. I literally said my cat was named Ben Wyatt. So I am choosing, obviously, “The Master Plan.” It’s the first time we see Ben and Chris, it’s the episode that Leslie’s world got changed for the better despite not knowing what that would entail and it is one of the last times I had to see Mark Brendanawicz so really a win-win all around.
Asking me to pick a favorite episode of season 3 is like asking me to pick a favorite child. Actually, asking me to pick one episode out of the REST of this series is going to be hard because from season 3 on, I love this show more than anything in this world. It’s my comfort show and what I turn to whenever the world feels too much.
That being said, I do have to go with “The Fight” because it is a perfect episode of television. It’s clear that Ben and Leslie have feelings for each other but can’t act on it and their flirting boils over when Leslie and Ann are drunk fighting over Ann being out at the Snakehole Lounge instead of studying to come and work for City Hall. Everyone is in various states of drunk because of Snake Juice that Tom created and it’s truly just…a perfect episode.
The best episode of season 4 is hard because, like I said, it’s like choosing a child after a while. But “The Treaty” is one of the most quotable episodes of the series. “The Moon shall join your coalition” has really just left a lasting impact on me followed by Leslie screaming “What are you gonna do without tides, Peru?!” and that’s not even bringing up her waving Ben’s head on a stick in front of his weeping mother. Or Andy asking if they won. It’s just filled with hilarious moments and is a great episode if you’re a glutton for pain and like watching Ben and Leslie fight instead of smooch.
My runner-up is obviously “Smallest Park” because Ben and Leslie fighting over a little park and then making out in said park? Perfection.
You know an episode is a good one when simply looking at the title of it makes you cry and that’s what “Leslie and Ben” does. Obviously “Halloween Surprise” is high on my list because it’s Ben proposing to Leslie when she says “what are you doing” and then repeats herself with tears in her eyes because Ben is on one knee. But “Leslie and Ben” shows not only how much Ben and Leslie love each other but how much the people around her love Leslie. They do this for her, they make it so she has a wedding that is exactly what she would have always wanted and it’s so important hearing Ben and Leslie say “I love you and I like you” to each other.
I want to one day get married and have a picture in front of a wildflower mural because of this episode, it means so much to me, and while I have others I love to watch in season 5, this is high on my list of all-time great television episodes.
“Second Chunce” isn’t what most people would choose but it is the episode that I have a tattoo from and the episode that really just helped remind me what this show means to me. When Leslie is blinded by failure and wants to fight back to get her City Council seat back, the people in her life stop her and Ben takes her to Paris and she says in a voiceover: “In times of stress or moments of transition, sometimes it can feel like the whole world is closing in on you. When that happens, you should close your eyes, take a deep breath, listen to the people who love you when they give you advice, and remember what really matters.”
It’s what makes Leslie my favorite and why I love this series so much. My honorable mentions for season 6 are many. One being “Flu Season 2” when Ben and Leslie find out they’re going to be parents as Ben is drunk on blueberry wine, the episode when Leslie screams about how much she loves Michelle Obama AT Michelle Obama, and “Moving Up: Part 2” when Leslie realizes that she can change the world from Pawnee and gets a new job but as part of the greatest town in Leslie’s world.
What I love about season 7 is that it doesn’t feel like the end. The entire season feels like just another until episodes like “Leslie and Ron” and my favorite “One Last Ride.” Yes, they’re separated into Part 1 and Part 2 but I’m counting it as one. The finale didn’t feel like a real goodbye until Ben Wyatt tells a group of their friends that Leslie is running for governor. Because the two tried so hard to figure out which of them should do it and he sees her trying to make it an even choice between them and knows that this is Leslie’s dream.
Getting to see how each character lives their life and having Leslie standing in Pawnee ready to move to Washington at the end, standing with her old friends and saying “I’m ready” as “The End of the Line” by the Traveling Wilburys plays is a perfect end for Leslie Knope and a perfect episode of television.
As I said, I’m sure there are going to be people who want to fight this but honestly? I don’t care. This is the show that means the world to me, the one I know the most about, and these episodes are what matter to me. So go on, enjoy, and if you have other faves tell me because who doesn’t love a good episode of Parks and Recreation?
(featured image: NBC)
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