It’s Thursday night. The 10 year old wants to stay up to see the season finale of one of his favorite shows. He sings along with the theme. ”Jabba the Hutt, Jabba the Hutt, Jabba the Hutt, Jabba the Hutt…” The 7 year old dances along.
Yes, yes, it’s a school night. But the 10 year old is a fan of “Parks and Recreation.” I can’t help that NBC put it on at 9:30 pm. When I suggested watching over the weekend online, he said, “Dad, spoilers.” So we watch it live. He makes up the sleep elsewhere in the week, probably in math class. (As long as his grades stay up, he can sleep at school all he wants.) As for 7, he doesn’t really sleep, so he’s fine.
Tonight was a little bittersweet, not just because it was the season finale but because news of renewals and cancellations has been trickling out all afternoon. No word about “Parks” as of yet.
It might seem odd to think that kids would enjoy “Parks.” I grew up on “The Bob Newhart Show” & “Barney Miller,” so it’s probably both nature and nurture around here. But it’s not even the comedy—a lot of it flies right over their heads. (They get Ron Swanson, for the most part.) It’s that it’s a show that hits us where we live. Southern Indiana.
Our town is a bit smaller than Pawnee, but it’s pretty damn close. And while we don’t have murals like the ones in their city hall, I know a summerstock theatre not too far from here with the real thing. (I wouldn’t be surprised if someone on the staff had toiled there for a summer or two.) Aside from that…
Sure, we watch “The Middle,” but the setting is almost incidental there. After watching pretty regularly, 10 year only just realized it was also set in Indiana. But the sense of place is a glorious thing on “Parks.” And goodness knows, they nail it. The boys recognize Pawnee.
I bring all this up tonight because I want the show to continue. Not only because it’s funny, even though it is. Not because it’s as inspiring as “The West Wing” at its best, even though it is. Not because I like it, even though I very much do.
I want it to continue because my boys get to see something approximating their town on a broadcast network. That’s a rare thing nowadays.