When news circulated that Amy Poehler and Will Arnett were getting separated, voices all around the world–including our own–cried out “IS LOVE DEAD?” and the answer seemed to be a resounding yes. Arnett and Poehler’s marriage was a special gift for pop culture–two people who are incredibly funny in their own separate projects (see Arnett in Arrested Development as well as Hot Rod, The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret, and a terrific recurring role on 30 Rock; see Poehler in years of SNL as well as Parks And Rec and oh, right, she co-founded improv comedy giant Upright Citizens Brigade)–had the ability to come together to work as a hilarious comedy duo. They also seemed to genuinely care for one another.
News of the funny power couple’s separation spread only weeks before Parks And Recreation‘s fifth season premiere yesterday on NBC. Rather than allowing the impending divorce to cast a dark shadow over the new episodes, though, we suggest that you understand Parks And Rec as a fictional embodiment of everything you loved about Poehler + Arnett.
Parks And Recreation is a show about caring. That’s what eventually set it apart from programs like its counterpart The Office where people bond over the dislike of their workplace. Parks And Rec has given us Leslie Knope, a woman who works hard at her job because she actually likes it and wants to make a difference in her town, and although the rest of the her department doesn’t always feel her same passion for government, parks, or Pawnee, Indiana, they work hard because they are truly inspired by her. It’s so earnest it almost hurts sometimes.
Parks And Rec perpetuates the idea that caring is cool and working together with everyone can make a difference. What’s more impressive is that it does so while still being funny and never too preachy. It is what we liked about Poehler + Arnett — perfect because of equal parts sweet and hilarious.
When Leslie’s current beau Ben Wyatt was introduced in the second season he was brought in as a sort of curmudgeon, canceling park events and bringing down the department’s spirit with talks of finance and money and dollars. As we got to know him and learn about his past as an ambitious teenaged mayor who failed in his attempts to turn his town into a giant ice rink, though, we saw a lot of Leslie’s same spirit in him. Ben and Leslie want to create enjoyment. They share similar ambitions. They also both like snow globes.
The show’s secondary couple, April and Andy, also sprung up as somewhat of a surprise. Initially, the show painted April as a heartless cynical teenager and Andy as a helpless dumb jerk, but as the two spent more time together, April’s cold exterior began to break down (just enough) and Andy became a much more lovable goofball. In one episode, they got married on a whim, and the show actually stuck with it. Their love proved to be not immature but rather actually genuine.
The end of last season saw the main couples not at their apexes but at the moments that occur right before them. Leslie has just won the position on City Council with the help of Ben as her campaign manager. Ben got offered a job working on a congressional campaign in Washington, D.C., and Leslie encouraged him to take it. Andy expressed to April how he would be willing to move anywhere she needed to, and April encouraged Andy to follow his dreams and be a cop if he wants.
The couples who care about one another’s happiness and success will surely face trials as they strive to achieve their dreams this season, but Pawnee will again prove itself as a place where true love can be real. Those of us heartbroken by the split of our favorite comedy couple can take pleasure in seeing the same care and humor in the relationships in the genuine, non-cynical world of Parks And Rec.