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.
One character can't make an entire series, but Nick Offerman's performance as the stern, yet loveable Ron Swanson makes a pretty strong case. The intensely-mustachioed department director could have easily become a one-note man's man but the writing staff turned him into a complicated and complete character and Offerman hit every note perfectly.
Ron is wise and cranky, kind and fair, easily triggered, and has complicated relationships with women named Tammy. He hates Canada. He hates Europe. He leads a double life as sexy jazz saxophonist Duke Silver in the next town over. He uses the Internet to get the addresses of people and places he hates, and then writes them strongly worded letters from his typewriter. Oh, and he marries Xena herself, Lucy Lawless, late in the series.
Karen was just awful on The Office. It wasn't Rashida Jones's fault – she was saddled with a character whose whole presence on the show was to be "not Pam." She was basically a pretty person in business clothes, and viewers knew she was never going to end up with Jim.
On Parks, though, Jones started out as an angry citizen at a zoning meeting and the caretaker of Andy Dwyer. She quickly became best friends with Leslie, and their relationship defined a central part of the whole Parks experience. She had a hilarious love/hate feud with April, and had plenty of great scenes with almost everyone in the cast. Some of her narrative twists and turns made no sense at all (dating Tom?), but she ended up standing out as a strong character on a show with a whole lot of strong characters.
Parks and Recreation added two of its most significant characters, Ben Wyatt (Adam Scott) and Chris Traeger (Rob Lowe), after dumping the useless Mark Brendanawicz (Paul Schneider). Both Traeger and Wyatt were featured prominently as the love interests of Leslie and Ann, in addition to being a central part of the Parks narratives throughout their tenure on the show. Lowe and Scott left an indelible mark on the Parks legacy, and the show was at its best when they were in the cast. Even Leslie's City Council nemesis Jeremy Jamm (Jon Glaser) was nice fresh arm out of the bullpen in the later seasons.
The same cannot be said for The Office. The original cast was already pretty darn strong, but they didn't add too many worthwhile characters after the first handful of seasons. Outside of Andy Bernard (Ed Helms), no one really left a lasting impression on the offices of Dunder Mifflin. Even Gabe (Zach Woods), Erin (Ellie Kemper), and Holly (Amy Ryan) were largely forgettable.
Michael Scott didn't grow throughout his time on The Office. He was a selfish, awkward, and often sweet dummy from the pilot until he left Dunder Mifflin with a new bride-to-be. Jim, Pam, and Dwight grew plenty, but they also had significantly more screen time than the rest of their co-stars. Many of the supporting cast were one-note jokes at best (looking at you, Kevin), and most of them contributed little or nothing to The Office legacy.
The success of Parks and Recreation relied heavily on the growth of their characters, and so many of them went through significant career and personal evolution over seven seasons compared to The Office's nine. Leslie, Ann, Ben, Ron, Tom, Chris, April, Andy, Donna, and, yes, even Jerry/Larry/Garry/Terry were not the same people at the end of their Parks run that they were at the start.