The Office vs. Parks and Rec

Elizabeth Youssef and Isaac Cooper

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The Office: Elizabeth Youssef

Who can deny the charm of The Office? With just Michael Scott, Jim Halpert, Pam Beesly, and Dwight Schrute the show is already iconic. Set in Scranton, Pennsylvania following the staff of a low level paper company called Dunder-Mifflin the show was set up for greatness. Michael Scott, regional manager of the Scranton branch, is a ridiculous, idiotic, culturally tactless, sexist fellow at first glance but as the show goes on, we learn to love him.

   Jim is the nice guy salesman in the show and is in love with the receptionist, Pam, who is engaged to someone else and an aspiring artist. Jim has a rivalry and type of frenemy relationship with Dwight, who is another salesman. Dwight is a great paper salesman even though he has little common sense or social ability and Jim plays pranks on him constantly. Most of the beginning of The Office the audience is waiting for Pam and Jim to get together.

   As someone who has watched both The Office and Parks and Recreation (“Parks and Rec”) more than one time through, I can confidently say The Office is the superior show. “Parks and Rec” was fun but the humor is just not the same. Leslie Knope, Ann Perkins, and Ron Swanson are among some of the most hilarious and noteworthy on the “Parks and Rec” cast however The Office still trumps it. The Office is funny because it revolves around Michael Scott who, loves his job, but it also terrible at it. Leslie Knope is great at her job and smart so it does not achieve the same level of humor.

   The Office also has more moving parts, characters and dynamics. There is always something going on with Kelly and Ryan, Michael and Toby, Jim and Pam, Dwight and Jim, Dwight and Michael, Dwight and Angela, Andy and Angela, and so on. On “Parks and Rec” there are only ten main characters and on The Office there are around eighteen, give or take. The allowance of eighteen characters allows the show to have a more complex plot.

   Though the Leslie and Ann bff friendship is not exactly replicated on The Office it is rivaled by Jim and Pam’s friendship. The way the “Parks and Rec” gang harp on Jerry is not as funny as Michael and Toby either because Jerry is actually really nice and almost no one is nice to him. Michael is the only one who is always mad at Toby. The Office also had extremely high ratings and ran for longer than “Parks and Rec.”

   The Ben and Leslie couple does not make as much sense as Jim and Pam and there was less buildup. Jim and Pam are some of the roots of the show, viewers were watching to see when they would get together. The Office did not get boring when Jim and Pam get together because the writers still knew what their viewers wanted. On the other hand Ben and Leslie get together and it’s fine but then the show robs the audience of getting to see them go through married life and have their first kid. Instead the show just skips to the future, therefore keeping us from getting the full experience. With Jim and Pam we see them with other people, they get together, get engaged, get married and have their kids.

   On The Office you are on a outrageous, hilarious journey while also getting personally attached to all of the characters. The Office does not get old and we watch the characters grow and make major life decisions. Parks and Rec is hilarious, more mainstream and different than The Office but it still pales in comparison.

Parks and Rec: Isaac Cooper

The sun rises every morning; what comes up must come down; the Tooth Fairy is real.  All of these statements are undisputed, and factual. The Office is a better TV show than Parks and Recreation; that is both disputed, and not factual.  Parks and Recreation is clearly a better show than The Office because Parks and Recreation has more believable characters, in addition to having a cool nickname in “Parks and Rec.”

   I am not here to slander The Office; the show has its merit as being a staple for situational dramedy, Netflix and Chill, and binge-watching.  However, “Parks and Rec” is applicable to all of these categories. Yes, “Parks and Rec” is applicable to these categories for using a narrative structure identical to that of The Office.  However, we see the characters on “Parks and Rec” experience more growth than The Office.  “Parks and Rec” hosts characters who grow with bargain; the ending they receive is reflective of what they desired at the beginning of the show, but as a result of a counterintuitive bargain.

   The growth aspect of these two shows is important because it contributes to the believability of the characters.  Tom Haverford (Aziz Ansari) is believable because he transforms from a selfish, and lazy worker vying for a glitzy “Mad Men” vision of success, into a successful author, whose success is derived from documenting his severe failure as a businessperson.  This growth is a symbolic bargain, in that Tom eventually became successful, in exchange for that success being built upon failure. This growth is ironic, and realistic. The story of Tom is representative of how we actually build success as a result of learning from failure.  

   Like Tom, Andy Dwyer (Chris Pratt) of “Parks and Rec” wanted to experience success through music.  Andy wanted his band, MouseRat, to be a critically acclaimed rock band for an audience similar to that of what Green Day caters to.  Andy, however, experiences a break up with his girlfriend, his band excommunicating him, and sharing a home with Ben Wyatt (Adam Scott) on his way to stardom.  Andy eventually becomes successful as a solo act with his kids TV show as “Johnny Karate,” and marries his best friend April Ludgate (Aubrey Plaza). Andy became successful with the support of his friends at “Parks and Rec.”

   Tom Haverford and Andy Dwyer are two of many characters “Parks and Rec” has that develop in that fashion.  I enjoy watching this type of development in characters because the show, in addition to being funny, then becomes relatable.

   In The Office, characters are funny, and endearing in their comedy.  In addition to these, the show does a great job of highlighting the growth of the characters over 9 seasons.  However, some parts of it are too asinine to be believable. I understand that the ineptitude of the characters of both TV shows contribute to their likeability, resulting in a collective forgivable ignorance, but Ryan Howard (BJ Novak) and Kelly Kapoor (Mindy Kaling) from The Office are unbelievably inept.  The series finale put the icing on the cake of their obnoxious personas when they abandon Ryan’s baby, Drake, at the wedding of Dwight Schrute (Rainn Wilson) and Angela Martin (Angela Kinsey) to be attended to by Nellie Bertram (Catherine Tate.)  Granted, all of the characters are inept, but Ryan and Kelly are the paramount figures of ineptitude, which The Office hosts.  

   There are also general instances in which characters from The Office act with an inconceivable amount of ignorance.  Michael Scott (Steve Carell) publicly declaring that his Dunder Mifflin branch accountant Oscar Martin (Oscar Mendez) has the ability to fix the inevitable fiscal implosion of the entire Dunder Mifflin company is one example.

   If my argument was not convincing enough, sit down, grab a family size bag of kettle cooked Utz chips, pour a big glass of Ginger Ale, and watch “Parks and Rec,” which is on Netflix.  Prepare for laughs, crying, hair pulling cringe, and a great ride through the “Parks and Rec” department of Pawnee, Indiana.