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Parks and Recreation Secrets You Never Knew

Created by Greg Daniels and Michael Schur, Parks and Recreation first aired on television in April 2009. Though the show had a bumpy start, the writers reworked on its tone and format. As a result, the later seasons registered great popularity and positive critic reviews. Apart, the writers also very adeptly incorporated current events into the story, which made the show quite relatable. Many famous politicians made guest appearances on the show. Michelle Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, and Senator John McCain are some of the politicians who appeared on the show.

Parks and Recreation revolves around the life of Leslie Knope. She’s a mid-level bureaucrat who aspires to become the first female President of the department. It is through her hard work and commitment to her town. For her portrayal of Leslie Knope, Amy Poehler won 25 nominations. She took home a Golden Globe, a Critics’ Choice Television Award, and an American Award. Amy is nominated for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series for six years row. However, she never won the award, which we still find unbelievable — after all, she was as incredible as Leslie! Throughout its seven-year run, Parks and Recreation was nominated 75 times and won a total of 13 awards. The show continues to be a favorite of millions around the world. This video is a treat for all Parks and Recreation fans.

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Parks and Recreation

 Was Supposed to Be a Spin-off of

The Office

Ben Silverman, NBC’s co-chairman, asked Greg Daniels, the man behind the American version of The Office for a spin-off show. Daniels and Michael Schur, one of the writers on The Office, explored various angles and themes. The more they thought, the more convinced they became that Parks and Recreation deserved to be a different show. However, they decided to continue with the mockumentary format of The Office. They hired Rashida Jones, who had played Louisa Fenn in The Office to play Ann Perkins on Parks and Recreation.  

The Show Registered a Bumpy Start

Since the NBC executives had actually asked for an Office spin-off, during the first season, Parks and Recreation was continually compared to The Office. Some of the critics were particularly harsh in their comparisons. For instance, the Chicago Tribune deemed Parks and Recreation to be one of the worst spin-offs ever, calling it even worse than the Friends spin-off Joey. Fortunately, as the show advanced, most critics changed their opinion.

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Leslie Was Made ‘Smarter’ After the First Season

After the first season received bad reviews, the writers of the show decided to make a few changes. Leslie’s character, in particular, underwent major changes. After the first season, most viewers found Leslie to be foolish and non-rational in many ways. Thus, the writers worked on Amy Poehler’s character and made her smarter, rational, and more popular among her co-workers.

For the Longest Time, the Show Was Referred to as the

Untitled Amy Poehler Sitcom

For a long time, the show did not have a name. Though the writers were considering going with Public Service, NBC executives weren’t too convinced. The network executives were of the opinion that the name Public Service would imply that the show is a sarcastic take on public service and they wanted to steer clear of any controversy. Therefore, the cast members mostly referred to the show as The Untitled Amy Poehler Sitcom. In the end, NBC decided to go with the title Parks and Recreation.

The Character of Swanson Was Based on a Real-Life Government Official

Nick Offerman was delightful as Leslie’s libertarian boss, Ron Swanson. When Greg Daniels and Michael Schur were working on various characters, they decided that Swanson would be anti-government and just the opposite of Leslie in terms of political philosophy and work ethics. The inspiration for the role came from a Burbank, California, based official who was very similar to Swanson in terms of thoughts and ideologies.

There Is an Interesting Story Behind the Poster in Ron Swanson’s Office

During the first six episodes of season one of Parks and Recreation, Ron Swanson’s office had a poster of Bobby Knight, the legendary college basketball coach. However, the poster had to be removed for legal reasons and was replaced with a poster of a woman enjoying her breakfast. After being forced to remove the Bobby Knight poster, the team searched the internet for ‘things Ron Swanson would like’ and stumbled on the picture of a dark-haired lady eating her breakfast. The picture seemed like the appropriate thing to put in Swanson’s office.

Schur Hired Aubrey Plaza Because She Made Him Feel Uncomfortable

A chance encounter between Allison Jones, who was the casting director on Parks and Recreations, and Aubrey Plaza convinced Jones that Plaza was the weirdest person she had ever met. She told Schur the same thing and arranged a meeting between Plaza and Schur. It is believed that Schur found the one hour he spent with Plaza utterly uncomfortable and he, therefore, decided to work with Plaza. The character of April Ludgate was written with Plaza in mind.

On the show, Chris Pratt played Andy Dwyer, the show’s lovable idiot. Though Pratt’s role was supposed to be temporary, the audience showed him so much love, he was made into a regular. Pratt was recommended for the role of Andy Dwyer by Joy Philibin’s daughter, J.J. Philbin. Philbin had worked with Pratt on The O.C. and had loved him as Winchester ‘Che’ Cook on the show.

Mark Brendanawicz Was Supposed to Be a Recurring Character on the Show

Schur and Daniels had based the character of Mark Brendanawicz on a real-life city planner who kept switching between government positions and private roles. When Paul Schneider was hired for the role, it was made clear to him that Mark’s character wouldn’t be a permanent but a recurring character on the show. However, somewhere during the second season, Schneider started feeling sidelined. Plus, since he was getting a lot of movie offers as well, he decided to make a permanent exit from the show.

Three Different Finales Were Shot for Season Four

In season four, Leslie campaigns for a seat on the Pawnee City Council. In the season finale, Leslie defeats Bobby Newport and ensures a seat for herself on the council. However, not many people know that the producers weren’t sure of which way they wanted the election to go, and thus, for this particular season and episode, three different endings were shot.

There Is a 256-Page Book Dedicated to the Fictional Town of Pawnee

In 2011, the season four episode titled ‘Born & Raised’ also marked the launch of a book on Pawnee, the fictional town in which the show is based. In the episode, Leslie tries to get the book titled Pawnee: The Greatest Town in America, featured in Joan Callamezzo’s Book Club. The book discusses the history of the fictional town and features blurbs from many of the show’s characters.

There Is an Interesting Story Behind Joe Biden’s Cameo

Several politicians including Senator Barabara Boxer and Senator John McCain made cameos on the show. That apart, former Vice President Joe Biden and the First Lady Michelle Obama also appeared on the show. There is an interesting story behind how the writers got Vice President Joe Biden to do a cameo. The writers created a solid story background with Leslie Knope having a major crush on the Vice President before inviting Biden to the show. With the former Vice President, the writers shot two sequences — one to be played if Obama and Biden rewon the elections and the other to be broadcasted in case they lost the elections. Fortunately, the duo won the 2012 re-election and the second sequence was never shown.

The Pit Wasn’t Supposed to Become a Park Until the Series Finale

While researching for the show, Schur talked to many urban planners in Claremont, California. During his research, he discovered that it took the Claremont government 18 years to come up with a new park. This particular fact convinced Schur and Daniels that Leslie’s plan to convert the pit into the park would not become a reality until the final episode of the series. However, since the pit was filled in season two of the show, the writers had to keep coming up with new reasons to explain the delay. The pit finally got converted into a park during season 5 of the show and by the end of the series finale, Leslie had given Pawnee two parks instead of one.

So, have you been binge-watching Parks and Recreation during the lockdown? Are you a fan of the show and did you know these interesting facts? Please let us know in the comments section. If there are some other interesting facts about the series you know and we don’t, please don’t forget to share them with us.

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