The Remote: ‘Parks and Recreation’s’ heart makes it the best comedy currently on television

Ryan Pait

If I could rewind to 2009 when “Parks and Recreation” first premiered, that headline would seem ludicrous.

But here’s the thing: “Parks and Recreation” is the little show that could.

It’s transformed from a very frumpy caterpillar into a beautiful, rule-breaking moth.

Like “The Office” before it, “Parks and Rec” had a short, six-episode first season that struggled to find its footing.

Even worse for “Parks and Recreation” was the fact that it so desperately wanted to emulate “The Office.”

Set in the office of the Parks and Recreation Department of the fictional Pawnee, Indiana, the show follows sunny optimist Leslie Knope (the literally incomparable Amy Poehler) and her band of coworkers as they try to improve their town.

While the show felt like a dull clone of “The Office” during its first season, it began to pick up steam during its second season as it underwent some necessary creative changes.

The character of Leslie was reformed to make her more of a loveable, ultra-competent crazy person instead of a misguided doofus. Characters that didn’t fit were shuffled out, and new characters were brought in.

These small revisions have transformed the show into something that’s just all kinds of wonderful.

The show has let its characters grow in a way that feels progressive yet true to the characters’ original essences. And even better is the fact that the cast has become a well-oiled comedy machine.

And what a cast it is. There’s the unbeatable Poehler of course, but the show’s supporting players are absolutely stellar.

While I don’t have space to describe why each and every cast member is superb, I’ll just say this: Aziz Ansari, Jim O’Heir, Rashida Jones, Rob Lowe, Nick Offerman, Aubrey Plaza, Amy Poehler, Chris Pratt, Retta, and Adam Scott make up one of the best comedic ensembles that TV has ever seen.

It’s also obvious when watching the show that these people have become great friends in real life. There’s something nice about seeing people work together and actually have fun together, both on-screen and off.

Besides the cementing of its glorious cast, the show also found a tone that worked for it: one that’s sentimental without being sappy, sweet without being saccharine.

Tonally, “Parks and Rec” is essentially a modern-day version of “The Andy Griffith Show.” The stakes are never too high, but that’s one of its greatest assets.

In “Parks and Rec,” it’s the small victories that count the most.

Like “The Andy Griffith Show,” “Parks and Rec” is also just plain heartfelt and winsome.

Instead of slapping viewers in the face with grotesque sentimentality like other shows tend to do, “Parks and Rec” instead gives us small moments between the characters that actually feel meaningful.

It also helps that the show is ridiculously funny.

“Parks and Rec” may not have the sharp edge of “30 Rock” and “Girls,” the delightful meta mentality of “Arrested Development” and “Community” or the mass appeal of more traditional sitcoms like “Friends” and “Modern Family.”

But what it does have is heart, and that’s why I love it and I like it. No show on TV makes me happier than this one.

So say yes to Knope and start watching it.