Which is better: The Office or Parks and Rec? This question comes up a lot in my friend group. There is rarely an "I like both equally!" Usually, you are either Team "The Office" or Team "Parks and Rec." I, myself, am Team "Parks and Rec." But don't get me wrong, I think "The Office" is amazing.
Both shows are undoubtedly similar. Both are mockumentary style, placed in an office, with an absurd boss. Michael Scott's character provides some of the best comedy that television has seen. He's so unaware of his absurdity, it makes him all the more hilarious. Leslie Knope, however, seems more aware of her absurdity, but she wears it like a badge of honor. Each show provides an array of uniquely hilarious characters. No one can make a better character than Dwight Shrute. Jim and Pam are one of the most iconic television couples of all time. And Michael's hatred for Toby can make anyone laugh. Although The Office is a tremendously hilarious show, there are several reasons that I love "Parks and Rec." more.
To begin, both shows attempt a different sort of comedy. If you like awkward, more realistic moments, "The Office" is probably your favorite. The extreme awkwardness of Michael and Jan's dinner party still haunts me to this day. "Parks and Rec." is more rambunctious and slapstick than "The Office." Every time I watch Leslie Knope throw that bag of garbage at her ex-best friend turned Eagleton snob, I cry from laughter.
"Parks and Rec." also incorporates the town of Pawnee more. Although the majority of the show occurs in the "Parks and Rec." office or Pawnee City Hall, the people of Pawnee serve as an important entity in the show. Showing the civilians of Pawnee adds to the hilarity and displays the nature of working for the government. In "The Office," it is rare that an episode will occur fully outside the office space. "The Office" feels extremely isolated from the outside world. This is probably done on purpose, to fully display the dynamic of the workspace, but I really enjoy the way "Parks and Rec." incorporates the city of Pawnee.
"Parks and Rec." also develops its characters more. At the end of its run, I felt like I knew so much about the characters of "Parks and Rec." The writers of the show did a great job of developing the characters. You truly watch each of the characters grow and improve as people. They also create relationships between the characters that is so heartwarming and genuine. Ron and Leslie's friendship is so precious. "The Office" has some good character development in Jim and Pam, but with other characters you are left guessing. I was left wanting more from "The Office" in terms of the development of character.
As much as I love "The Office," the show overstayed its welcome. Even die-hard fans can agree that after Steve Carrell left and took Michael Scott with him, the show was never the same. It probably should have ended with Michael Scott's exit. I understand that it was hard to let go because the rest of the cast was still so amazing, but with the onslaught of new bosses, talent was wasted (James Spader), and the show started to go off the rails. "Parks and Rec." was consistently great and was also able to keep many of its' essential characters. Throughout all seven seasons, "Parks and Rec." was consistent with characters and comedy.
Regardless of whether you are Team "The Office" or Team "Parks and Rec.," both shows are pretty great. Just because I like "Parks and Rec." better doesn't mean that I won't re-watch episodes of "The Office" when I need a good dose of comedy.