It's easy to say that The Office and Parks and Recreation were two of the best comedies of the 2000s. Both shows had terrific ensembles, sharp-witted comedy that revitalized the work-place comedy, and some dreamy leading men. Picking why you prefer one show probably comes down to personal preference – as well as your tolerance for subpar seasons. Plenty of fans swear Parks and Recreation is better than The Office, while others will live and die for Dunder Mifflin.
But which show has the better love interest? That's where things get more complicated. After all, pitting Parks and Rec's Ben Wyatt against Jim Halpert of The Office is kind of like comparing LeBron to Jordan. But upon closer inspection, you'll start to see how much of a catch man-of-many-jobs Ben Wyatt really was. And maybe, just maybe, Jim wasn't so perfect after all.
Does that mean Jim Halpert is a bad husband? Not necessarily. Does Leslie Knope have a better husband than Pam Beesly? Most definitely, though you're welcome to debate Ben Wyatt vs. Jim Halpert forever.
When their relationship threatens Leslie's job, Ben quits so she can continue. When a new position would take him from Pawnee, Ben turns it down so they can stay together. A successful romantic partnership requires making someone else's happiness a priority, and Ben does just that.
Jim definitely wants to make Pam happy, but he does take that job in Philadelphia. Considering all the problems it causes in their marriage, it wasn't the most selfless decision.
You would think being impeached after two months as a teenage mayor might lead to a life of bitterness and misery. But that's not how Ben operates. He's a man who still has remarkable optimism for his wife's political career, despite his own crash and burn as a mini-mayor.
Jim, on the other hand, always seems to feel that he's wasting his life, no matter how good things are going for him. That restlessness eventually takes him to Philadelphia, away from Pam and his daughter. It would be one thing if Pam was cool with the situation, but she clearly isn't.
Even the best relationships have rocky moments. Work, parenthood, and just day-to-day life take a toll. When Jim loses his cool with Pam in Season 9 of The Office, you can feel the pressure he's facing balancing his out-of-town job and his family. His outburst is understandable, but still awful.
But stressed or not, Ben would never talk this way to Leslie. He responds to tough situations in a very specific way: by dressing up as Batman.
Season 4 of Parks and Rec puts fans through the ringer. Leslie and Ben are together, but they can't stay that way if Leslie wants to run for office. So, they break up, and Ben gives Leslie a truly heartbreaking parting gift: a "Knope 2012" button.
Taking Sting's "If You Love Somebody, Set Them Free" to heart, Ben pushes Leslie to follow her dream, even if that means (temporarily) saying goodbye to him. Compare that with Jim, who spends years quietly sabotaging Pam's existing relationship, only to become bored once they're actually together.