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15 Reasons Why 'Parks and Rec' Has Always Been Better Than 'The Office'

Updated April 28, 2020 96.1k votes 13.3k voters 318.6k views15 items

List RulesVote up the reasons why Pawnee outclasses Scranton.

There are so many reasons why Parks and Recreation is better than The Office. Sure, you might think this is getting into apples and oranges territory; they're entirely different shows with self-contained universes. But both are filmed mockumentary style, both come from Greg Daniels and Michael Schur, and both courted the same comedy geek audience. People love to argue about which of the two is the best NBC sitcom. But the answer is obvious: it's Parks and Recreation

Leslie, Ron, Ben, Chris, April, Andy, Tom, Donna, and Jerry/Larry/Garry/Terry are better than Michael, Dwight, Jim, Pam, Kelly, Angela, Stanley, Phyllis, and Ryan. The day-to-day insanity of Parks was much funnier than the awkwardness of The Office. These are just a few of the reasons why Parks and Rec is the best, and there's plenty more here to prove the point. So, if you're a true believer in the power of Pawnee, IN, study up on these facts so you can smoke a Dunder Mifflin-ite in a Parks and Rec vs. The Office showdown.

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  • 5

    Parks's Writing Team Understood What Made The Show Funny

    Photo: NBC

    Understanding why your show connects with an audience isn't as simple as it sounds. Sometimes, studio execs (and, yes, even showrunners) don't understand the formula, and a show with plenty of promise dies way too early. The Office had its British counterpart (and Steve Carell) to build hype for the show, but Parks and Recreation didn't have the same built-in audience and Amy Poehler didn't have the same name-brand recognition Carell brought to the table.

    Parks stumbled out of the gate, largely because the writers didn't know what to do with Leslie Knope, and she needed to, well, carry the show. Then, they made her less ditzy and more Tracy Flick-esque, and that's when Parks took off. They kept April aloof and dark, while filling out her love life. Tom lost some of his silly over-the-top materialism. And Ron revealed his heart of gold.

    Showrunners Michael Schur and Greg Daniels kept the show relevant and entertaining because they knew what worked and what didn't.

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  • 6

    Parks's Cast Was Unbelievably Great

    Photo: NBC

    Steve Carell (Michael Scott) got plenty of attention when Anchorman came out, but The Office really cemented his star status. John Krasinski (Jim Halpert) has become a Hollywood leading man. But the rest of the cast hasn't really shown up too often since Dunder Mifflin closed up shop.

    Parks and Recreation introduced viewers to Chris Pratt (now one of Hollywood's most bankable stars), Aziz Ansari (now one of the biggest comedians in the business and a showrunner, to boot), and Aubrey Plaza (currently starring on FX's Legion). Adam Scott (Big Little Lies) hit his stride on the show, and Rob Lowe basically restarted his career. That's not to mention how the show finally found a fun character for Rashida Jones, who was underutilized on The Office.

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  • 7

    Parks Is Much More Consistent

    Photo: NBC

    Parks and Recreation stumbled a tiny bit in Seasons 5 and 6, but came back huge in Season 7 and went out with a bang. The Office lost its momentum after Season 4 (Seasons 2 and 3 are almost perfect, and it would have been nearly impossible to continue at that pace), and was always teetering near collapse after Jim and Pam got hitched.

    The highs of Parks and Recreation ("Flu Season," "The Fight," "Pawnee Rangers") match the highs of The Office ("The Injury," "The Dundies," "Casino Night"), but the lows of The Office (all of Seasons 8 and 9) were so, so much worse than even the crappiest Parks episodes.

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  • 8

    Parks Had Much Better Guest Stars

    Photo: NBC

    The Office featured just a handful of guest stars, and the most significant ones (Will Ferrell, Ray Romano, Will Arnett, Jim Carrey) were all in the same episode. Tim Olyphant played sexy salesman Danny Cordray, Idris Elba spent a few episodes playing Michael's nemesis/boss Charles Miner, and Oscar winner Kathy Bates was shoehorned into a truly silly role as the rich, tough, Southern belle-type CEO Jo Bennett.

    Parks and Recreation featured Louis CK, Paul Rudd, Megan Mullally, Lucy Lawless, Parker Posey, and Kristen Bell in some pretty significant roles. Not to mention the D.C. power people who showed up, including Michelle Obama, Barbara Boxer, Madeleine Albright, Newt Gingrich, John McCain, and Joe Biden, who Leslie might leave Ben for. And oh yeah, '90s R&B star Ginuwine played Donna's cousin, Questlove played her brother, and director Werner Herzog had a cameo, as well.

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