TIME Television

Knope and Change: The Politics of Parks and Recreation

Parks and Recreation - Season 7
Colleen Hayes/NBC

How the sitcom has cheerfully made the case for a "liberal" idea that didn't used to be considered so liberal.

Reviewing “Leslie and Ron” earlier this week, I wrote that part of the appeal of Parks and Recreation, specifically Leslie and Ron’s friendship, is that it’s a model–or fantasy–of how people of opposite politics can still work together and care about each other. It’s a sitcom about politics that works, in part, because of how its characters put friendship over politics–or at least aside from politics.

But what about the show’s politics itself? I wrote about that in my farewell column to Parks in the print TIME this week (subscription required). Even though Parks has never been assertively political (it’s foremost a workplace sitcom, set in a world as richly developed as The Simpsons‘ Springfield), and it’s generally avoided real-world, hot-button issues, the show does have politics in its way.

Parks‘ politics, like Leslie’s, are liberal. But “liberal” only in the sense that the definition of liberal has been shifted rightward, along with the general conversation about government and what it’s for, over the past few decades:

There’s a big idea in Parks’ small-scale vision. In the frame of today’s politics, it might be a liberal notion, but it’s one that for much of the 20th century was centrist, and even championed by Republicans like park lover Teddy Roosevelt: that we need government to do things the private sector can’t or won’t, like preserving public spaces.

Shockingly, Parks has dared to suggest that while some civil servants might be bumbling–sorry, Jerry!–they can also be well-intentioned and competent. (This too wasn’t considered a liberal notion before the era when Ronald Reagan joked that “the nine most terrifying words in the English language are ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help.’”)

One reason, I think, that Parks‘ politics don’t play especially “political” is that they grow out of a worldview that goes way beyond politics: about the importance of community, the idea that people need each other, that when you help someone, you’re also helping to make yourself better. That community goes well beyond government–it’s friends, neighbors, businesses–but Parks doesn’t hesitate to say that government, however imperfect and ludicrous, is another aspect of community, not an outside force imposed on legitimate community. (At the same time, though, it’s been respectful of the opposition view, if only by putting it in the mouth of Ron Swanson, the most awesome man on the planet.)

I’ve written this before, but this is one of the biggest things Parks has in common with American stories from It’s a Wonderful Life to Friday Night Lights, a touchstone that Parks has referenced repeatedly. People in FNL were liberal or conservative or neither; community meant everything from teams to churches to school systems. But the constant was that nobody does anything alone.

So it is on Parks: it’s only by pulling together that you turn a pit into the Pawnee Commons. In its own little way, that central story has made the case for what didn’t used to be such a divisive idea: that there is such a thing as the public common, and that it’s a good thing. Congratulations, Leslie and Parks: You built that.

 

TIME celebrities

Watch: Julianne Moore’s Secret to Good Skin Is… Sunscreen?

“Sunscreen everyday”

Julianne Moore, the 54-year-old actress, revealed her surprising skincare secrets on Bravo’s Watch What Happens Live.

“Sunscreen everyday, but whatever I can get at the drugstore, sunscreen,” she said last night, adding that she puts face oil on first. “Doesn’t matter what kind of face oil.”

And we thought it was magic all this time.

TIME movies

New Writers Picked for Star Trek 3

"Star Trek Into Darkness" Stage Greeting
Chris Pine attends the "Star Trek Into Darkness" stage greeting at Toho Cinemas Roppongi on August 13, 2013 in Tokyo, Japan. Jun Sato—WireImage

New writers required after departure of Roberto Orci

Star Trek 3 has found new writers and a new director.

Doug Jung, the co-creator of the television series Dark Blue, and Simon Pegg, who plays Scotty in the Star Trek franchise, will co-write the film, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Justin Lin will direct.

The new team needed to come on board after Roberto Orci, who was writing and supposed to direct the film, left the project. This film will be the third in the Star Trek movie franchise, following the successes of 2009’s Star Trek and 2013’s Star Trek Into Darkness.

The movie is still set to be released in July 2016.

[THR]

TIME Video Games

These Will Be the Hottest Wii U Games of 2015

Check out the biggest Nintendo-exclusive games coming to Wii U in 2015

Here’s a look at the year’s 10 most anticipated games for Nintendo’s Wii U console, including Mario Party 10, Xenoblade Chronicles X and The Legend of Zelda.

  • Kirby and the Rainbow Curse

    The latest Kirby platformer rolls Nintendo’s cutesy pink blob into a tiny ball, then sends him wheeling through colorful levels, guided by rainbow-like lines players draw on the Wii U GamePad’s touchscreen. Nintendo says the game will feature amiibo support for Kirby, as well as series regulars Meta Knight and King Dedede.

    February 20

  • Mario Party 10

    The first Mario Party game for Wii U (and tenth in the main series) adds two new modes: Bowser Party and amiibo Party. In Bowser Party, four players can square off with a fifth (Bowser), attempting to reach the end of a game board without being caught, while in amiibo Party, up to four players compete on game boards specially tailored for each figurine.

    March 20

  • Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Tipping Stars

    Sixth in the Mario vs. Donkey Kong series, Tipping Stars takes the classic approach–create your own side-scrolling, puzzle-driven levels, then share them with others online–then adds a “tipping” rewards system: stars you earn by beating levels can be cashed in for level parts, or passed along to designers you like, providing them with additional creative resources.

    March 5

  • Splatoon

    Splatoon was one of the best things I played at E3 2014, both a whimsical sendup of carnage-laced competitive shooters and a clever rethink of the genre’s tropes. Imagine a 4 vs. 4 action game that lets you spray ink all over the screen like You Can’t Do That on Television‘s slime pumped through Super Soakers. The basic idea’s simple enough: whoever’s team covers the most square footage with their color of ink wins.

    May 2015

  • Mario Maker

    Want to build your own side-scrolling Super Mario Bros. levels? Skin those levels to look like different Mario games, from the NES’s glory 8-bit days to the Wii U’s slick, high definition New Super Mario Bros. U? Do all that from the comfort and convenience of the Wii U GamePad? Share your levels with others online?

    TBD 2015

  • Star Fox

    Nintendo hasn’t released videos or stills of its upcoming Star Fox game for Wii U–the brief above is of various putatively related mini-games–but I was one of a few allowed to go hands-on with an experimental version at E3 last summer. Still a spaceship-based shooter, the demo had me use the GamePad’s motion sensors to aim my Arwing’s weapons, simultaneously controlling the craft by thumbing the joysticks to accelerate or turn and pull off signature moves like barrel rolls, loops and the tactically essential Immelman turn. And the Arwing could still morph into a land tank, rocketing down to the surface of a planet, then rattling around the battlefield and laying waste to the landscape.

    TBD 2015

  • Yoshi’s Woolly World

    As yarn to Kirby, so wool to Yoshi: Yoshi’s Woolly World takes that notion–inflecting conventional platforming ideas with knitting materials–and wraps it around Nintendo’s iconic dinosaur. More than a visual re-skinning of the Yoshi’s Island series, Yoshi’s Woolly World imbues Yoshi with filament-manipulating abilities, including an entourage of colorific, puzzle-solving yarn balls.

    TBD 2015

  • Xenoblade Chronicles X

    There’s no more anticipated game than Xenoblade Chronicles X in 2015’s lineup, across every platform, for me. It may lack Halo 5 or Uncharted 4‘s star power and broader genre appeal, but I’d nonchalantly throw those games under a bus to play this one. (That is, assuming developer Monolith’s crafted something as vast, dynamic and compulsive as Xenoblade Chronicles–we’ll see.)

    TBD 2015

  • The Legend of Zelda

    Tantamount to last year’s Wii U-saving Mario Kart 8, The Legend of Zelda is Nintendo’s most elevated of games, expectation-wise, this year. Teased at E3 last year and again in December, the first console-based Zelda game since 2011’s Skyward Sword for Wii looks to be Nintendo’s take on the open world genre, dropping you into a vast fantasy world while at the same time subverting many of the series’ tropes.

    TBD 2015

  • Wii Games on Wii U

    Missed the Wii’s halcyon hits? Nintendo just added native Wii support to the Wii U, meaning you can now purchase and play discounted Nintendo eShop versions of games like Super Mario Galaxy 2 (available now), Punch-Out!! (January 22) and Metroid Prime Trilogy (January 29) without the need to clumsily boot into “Wii Mode.” And if the game supported the Wii Classic/Pro Controller, you can sub in the Wii U GamePad, too.

TIME Television

1,200 Ticket Refunds Requested for Bill Cosby’s Denver Shows

Comedian Bill Cosby performs at The Temple Buell Theatre in Denver, Colo. on Jan. 17, 2015.
Comedian Bill Cosby performs at The Temple Buell Theatre in Denver, Colo. on Jan. 17, 2015. Barry Gutierrez—Reuters

Returnees amount to 40% of the tickets sold

A total of 1,200 ticket-holders requested refunds for two Bill Cosby comedy shows held in Denver, Colo., last week.

Around 3,100 tickets were originally sold to the event, meaning nearly 40% of those purchased were returned, according to the Denver Post.

Cosby, 77, was not heckled or harassed despite dozens of protesters outside his Jan. 17 gig, chanting phrases like, “rape is not a joke.”

The comedian has been embroiled in controversy since November after more than 15 women claimed he drugged and sexually abused them on various occasions spanning the last 40 years. Cosby has denied all accusations and has not been charged with a crime.

[Denver Post]

TIME movies

Previously Unreleased Marlon Brando Audio Recordings Used in New Film

The recordings feature in Listen to Me Marlon, which premieres at the Sundance Film Festival on Saturday

A documentary filmmaker has created a new biopic using more than 200 hours of audio tapes made by Hollywood legend Marlon Brando.

The personal archive was formed during the course of Brando’s life and includes the actor’s thoughts and insights on acting and the wider world that have never been heard before, Deadline reports.

The recordings feature in the new movie Listen to Me Marlon, created by filmmaker Stevan Riley (Fire in Babylon), which will premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in the Worlds Cinema Documentary category on Saturday.

Listen to Me Marlon was produced by John Battesk (Searching for Sugarman), George Chignell (Ali) and R.J. Cutler (The World According to Dick Cheney). It will be aired on Showtime after its debut in Park City, Utah.

[Deadline]

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