The Parks and Recreation Cast Reunited and it was a Dream Come True

On Thursday night in Los Angeles, the Parks and Recreation cast reunited for the PaleyFest LA 2019. I spent $7.99, so I could live stream it (there was a $1.99 option, but you could only watch it after it happened). I have been waiting for the Parks and Recreation cast to reunite since 2015, and I was not going to wait any longer. I was also not going to miss a single second of this reunion panel featuring basically all of our favorite Pawnee residents: Amy Poehler (Leslie), Nick Offerman (Ron), Rashida Jones (Ann), Adam Scott (Ben), Aubrey Plaza (April), Aziz Ansari (Tom), Rob Lowe (Chris), Retta (Donna), Jim O’Heir (Jerry/Garry/Larry?), and the one and only, Chris Pratt (Andy), along with the co-creator, Mike Schur.


As Andy Dwyer famously says, “Leslie, I typed your symptoms into the thing up here and it says you could have network connectivity problems.” Well, the Paley Center Live Stream was suffering from “network connectivity problems” and could have used the help of Burt Macklin, so unfortunately, I missed the video introduction.



Once the network connectivity issues were resolved, we were introduced to the cast who made their way out one by one, and Jim O’Heir (Jerry), of course, was last. In true Jerry fashion, there was no chair left for him, so he had to go get his own chair. Amy Poehler (Leslie) got the biggest ovation from the audience, and talked about how she was overwhelmed by the support. She clearly seemed choked up, even shedding a few tears in Leslie-eque red pant suit.


Patton Oswalt, the moderator and a previous guest star on Parks and Recreation, started off the panel asking everyone how much they were like their characters. Mike Schur described the character process as a venn diagram, as certain characteristics overlap. For example, when Mike Schur met Rob Lowe for the first time, one of the first notes he wrote down was that Lowe says literally a lot. Literally ended up becoming Lowe’s character's catchphrase. I literally could not believe the story! Nick Offerman’s woodworking was incorporated into Ron Swanson. For some actors, they felt like they were becoming their character in real life, as was the case for Aubrey Plaza.



Another important point that came up in the discussion was how universal some aspects of the show have become in real life - i.e. Galentine’s Day and “Treat Yo Self”. Retta joked that Target and Crate and Barrel sell “Treat Yo Self” merchandise and she has never seen a dime from it. Galentine’s Day, for many, has become a full-fledged holiday. Retta was even wearing a pink dress with the words “Treat Yo Self” all over it. This aspect of the show represents how well-liked and relatable it really is.


My favorite part of the discussion was the last question in which Oswalt asked each actor to reflect on what they have taken from their character and have adapted into their own life. Many joked about it. Lowe said that he will now live to the age of 150 years old and Offerman said he has Tammy 2 (in reference to his wife, Megan Mullally, who played Tammy 2). Amy Poehler’s answer was the most striking when she said that Leslie was good for her mental health. The fact that she would go to work every day and have to be so positive as Leslie and compliment everyone made her happy. She also shared a touching story in which she was driving by a Los Angeles school recently while the teachers were on strike and saw a teacher holding a Leslie Knope sign. Poehler beeped in support and the teacher looked at Poehler in the car and realized it was her and they shared a sweet look and wave. Poehler said that Leslie has extended her life. For me personally, I see Leslie as this positive source of female friendship and encouragement and do wish she was an actual person. I think more than ever we could use Leslie on our TV screens again.


In response to the question that everyone was thinking, will there be new episode of Parks and Rec, Mike Schur said that there has to be a new story to tell and everyone has to say yes. (Chris Pratt stop starring in every blockbuster movie!). Schur made a good point though that the show made an argument about teamwork, friendship, and the power of the two together, and achieved its goals. There has to be another argument to be made in order to come back. This reunion has made me miss the Parks and Recreation gang even more. I think it’s time to think of a new argument, because we could all benefit from watching the power of teamwork and friendship.


Let’s all pray to Little Sebastian for new episodes!