Total Nerd

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

Collin Flatt
Updated April 28, 2020 82.7k votes 12.7k voters 310.5k views 15 items

List Rules Vote 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.

Two Words: Ron Swanson
Two Words: Ron Swanson ... is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list 15 Reasons Why 'Parks and Rec' Has Always Been Better Than 'The Office'
Photo:  NBC

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.

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Ann Is Way Better Than Karen
Ann Is Way Better Than K... is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list 15 Reasons Why 'Parks and Rec' Has Always Been Better Than 'The Office'
Photo:  NBC

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.

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Parks's Character Additions Were Much Stronger
Parks's Character Additi... is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list 15 Reasons Why 'Parks and Rec' Has Always Been Better Than 'The Office'
Photo:  NBC

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.

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Parks's Cast Was Unbelievably Great
Parks's Cast Was Unbelie... is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list 15 Reasons Why 'Parks and Rec' Has Always Been Better Than 'The Office'
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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