Parks and Recreation is one of my favorite shows on television right now and in all honesty one of my favorites of all time. It does something most comedy shows either refuse to do or try at and fail: it makes me actually care about the characters and get emotionally invested in them. The show returns on January 13th, and jumps forward to 2017. What challenges await our heroes? What can we expect from the seventh season? Who knows! I don’t have the answers. What I do have is wild speculation.
If you haven’t seen the teaser trailer yet, you should probably go watch that before reading on. Seriously, go now. Tell me when you’re done.
All done? Good! Wasn’t that awesome? It’s the freaking future! April has a holographic tablet device to look at adorable puppies on, and Leslie and Ben are getting ambushed by a drone! I’m excited to see how they play with taking place in 2017. I’m curious if they’ll try to keep it realistic with expected technology trends, or if they’ll pull some ridiculous sci-fi shenanigans. I would personally love it if Pawnee suddenly became a Blade Runner-esque bleak futurescape where Perd Hapley is a replicant, but maybe that’s just me. Either way, the future gags they’ve shown in the teaser so far have me excited.
Showrunner Mike Schur has said that they aren’t planning a lot of flashbacks, which I think is a good thing. I’m glad they’re committing to the 2017 setting and not doing a lot of jumping back and forth. Splitting your narrative into two time periods is a risky maneuver that often means one time period is just okay while the other just plain sucks. Looking at you, Boardwalk Empire. I’m excited to see what they can do with 2017 as a plot moving forward that isn’t tethered to the past.
I’m stoked to see all the regular cast members returning, but I’m most excited about all the recurring characters and guests. We know that Paul Rudd’s Bobby Newport is making a return, as well as Jon Hamm as Ed, the employee Leslie fired for being more incompetent than Gerry. Chris and Ann are coming back for one episode, which is fitting for the final season. Tom’s ex-girlfriend Lucy (played by Natalie Morales) is returning, which might mean Tom could actually find lasting romance, the one thing that still eludes him. Best of all, my all-time favorite Parks and Rec character, Jean-Ralphio Saperstein (portrayed by Ben Schwartz), is for sure coming back.
I’m really hoping Jon Glaser comes back as Councilman Jamm for Season 7, and it sounds like he will (Episode 2 is reportedly called “Ron and Jammy.”) He was a great antagonist and I for one would love it if Leslie attended more hibachi dinner nights at his sweet bachelor pad. I’m also hopeful we might see more of Jonathan Banks as Ben’s dad and Pamela Reed as Leslie’s mom. Neither of them have been seen in a while, which is weird given that Leslie’s mom also works for the Pawnee government. You’d think she would have shown up at some point during Leslie’s stint as city councilwoman, but maybe she finally wrote Leslie off as a failure and eloped with John Larroquette.
There are a ton of minor characters that I can’t wait to see. Goofy Pawnee fixtures like Perd Hapley, Joan Callamezzo, and Councilman Dexhart are the glue that holds the show together, and I’d like to see as many of them as possible get stuffed into the final season. I’m really hoping Councilman Howser shows up and actually expresses an opinion or takes some kind of action, but that’s probably just a pipe dream.
One thing I’m worried about, and it’s a really small worry, is that the characters might by a little too successful. Leslie has an amazing job with the fed, Ben is being named Man of the Year, Ron has a wonderful family, Andy has a Johnny Karate TV show, April has Leslie’s old job, and Tom owns a successful bistro (“I’m a mogul now!”). What challenges are left for them?
It’s a small gripe, but I get the sense that these characters have sort of reached the end of their arcs. They can’t get much more successful without really straining credulity, and if they fail now it would be a really unsatisfying ending. Season 6’s ending was so uplifting that for I second I thought it might actually be the series finale. All the characters got exactly what they wanted. Where can the show go from here?
That said, I trust the writers to deliver a satisfying plot for the last season. With Jamm still around, there are sure to be plenty of political and bureaucratic challenges for Ben and Leslie. Megan Mullally is set to return as Tammy II, which probably means marital strife for Ron. Tom will probably have a romantic plot, and as for April and Andy… I dunno, maybe April gets preggers. I got nothing.
It’s hard to feel anything but excitement for Season 7, and January 13th can’t come soon enough. This show has only gotten better from season to season, so by that logic this one should be the best yet. It’s only 13 episodes, but I predict it will be the best 13 episodes of television ever aired anywhere. When it’s all said and done, I’m sure the only thing we’ll have to be sad about is that it’s over.