A Parks and Recreation Special: What The Critics Say

Michael Schur Delivers A Perfectly Timed Gem With A Parks and Recreation Special

PARKS AND RECREATION — “Parks and Recreation Special” — Pictured in this screen grab: (l-r) — (Photo by: NBC)

A pandemic like COVID-19 can bring out the best in humanity. We have seen the hundreds of millions of Americans step up despite the frustration, the uncertainty, the nervousness, and the loneliness that many of us feel. It should be no surprise that Michael Schur, who earlier this year brought us a near-perfect ending to The Good Place and a reminder that we are each other’s answers, would deliver a perfectly timed, perfectly executed, hilarious and emotional Parks and Recreation special about COVID-19 and the importance of all of us keeping connected. With the entire cast (including some favorite sub-characters) joining, A Parks and Recreation Special knocked it out of the park. It is the hug that we, and they, knew we needed.




Here is what the critics say:

Los Angeles Times’ Robert Lloyd says, “The ‘Parks and Recreation’ reunion is the perfect medicine for uncertain times.” He does on to say, “It all felt honest, made with love. There was never any sense that the actors had been away from their characters for five years, or of shoehorning old material into a weirdly shaped new box. It was pure Leslie Knope, addressing the real emergency by raising money, addressing the series by staying true to its spirit, and addressing the audience as part of the community.” Read Full Review.

USA Today’s Kelly Lawler says, “It was everything fans of the sweet, hopeful and hilarious series could have hoped for in this time of great need…The special captured the essence of the series and the mood of the current crisis perfectly, as the actors easily slipped back into old characters and offered each other (and viewers) support during tough times.” Read Full Review.

The New York Times’ James Poniewozik says “TV’s best best friends return in a sweet, goofy special that embodies the show’s philosophy: that community helps us survive.” Poniewozik goes on to say, “So is “Parks and Recreation” too light and sunny to deal with this moment? It may be the classic comedy that’s just light and sunny enough — in part because that lightness has always been grounded, however subtly, in reality…And as it built to a climax with the Li’l Sebastian tribute, “5,000 Candles in the Wind,” from Season 3 — well, let’s just say the tear in my eye was not for a tiny horse.” Read Full Review.

Chicago Sun-Times’ Richard Roeper says the special “extends the wonderful legacy of ‘Parks and Recreation’.” Roeper goes on to say, “In just 23 minutes, we catch up with so many characters, and not a single moment disappoints.” Real Full Review.

Entertainment Weekly’s Darren Franich calls the special “something special.” He goes on to say, “The special is a fun-with-characters piece, not quite the sitcom-Wire of yore. Still, I admire how Schur curls our pandemic reality back to the foundational Parks and Recreation saga of civil service in the face of overwhelming odds. Everyone really is doing their part: staying inside, staying healthy, washing their hands for the first time ever.” Read Full Review.

Collider’s Adam Chitwood calls the special “absolutely spot on…Usually these kinds of reunion specials are a bit hackneyed or forced, but watching this Parks and Recreation special felt like home. Not a beat was missed.” Real Full Review.

Time’s Judy Berman says, “The Parks and Recreation Reunion Was a Sweet, Slight Dispatch From an Alternate Universe.” Berman goes on to say, “In the end, despite the social distancing that the reunion had no choice but to depict, Parks is exactly as we left it five years ago: light, funny, comforting but willfully naive, and ultimately more appealing for its cast and the chemistry they’ve somehow retained than it is convincing in its worldview.” Read Full Review.

The A.V Club’s Denis Perkins says “Parks and Recreation returns with a care package of much-needed warmth, laughs, and hope.” Perkins goes on to say, “the episode manages to give us just enough of what we want in the way of catchup, while managing to, with a minimum of observable effort, deliver a very Leslie Knope-esque message about what do to when things seem the bleakest.” Read Full Review.

Vulture’s Jen Chaney says “A Parks and Recreation Special, the socially distanced, one-off reunion episode of the beloved NBC comedy, is an act of service. That’s true in the sense that it exists to raise money for Feeding America. But it’s also true because the whole episode was well-executed, heartfelt fan service.” Read Full Review.

Vanity Fair’s Sonia Saraiya says “The Parks and Rec reunion delivers sweet, sunny, sweet nostalgia.” Saraiya goes on to say, “Parks and Rec delivered to its fans what the show is famous for: Hope, sweetness, enthusiasm, and light comedy.” Read Full Review.

Rolling Stone’s Alan Sepinwall says the special was “The COVID-Era Reunion We Needed.” He goes on to say, “The commercial parodies are funny (particularly a lonely Jean-Ralphio begging people to call him), and there are a few inspired jokes about life at a remove from one another, like the misanthropic Ron explaining that he’s been social distancing since he was four, or bumbling Garry (O’Heir) making himself look like a steaming poop emoji because he doesn’t know how to turn off his video filters. Mostly, though, Schur and company lean on what we already know about the characters: that Ben can be a hazard to his own emotional well-being if given too much free time to work on his claymation (and wear his Letters to Cleo T-shirt); that Chris is almost superhumanly healthy; that Tom (Aziz Ansari) has an endless supply of terrible business ideas (“lasagna that’s also a toilet paper!”); etc.” Read Full review.

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