Parks and Recreation celebrated its 100th episode last night. But rather than mark the milestone with a guest-filled blowout, the NBC comedy focused on a major turning point for its main character, the endlessly optimistic Leslie Knope. Losing her dream job as a city councilwoman, Knope, declining one final plan to stay in power, ultimately agreed to set her sights higher – state senate, a federal job, congress . . . anything above Pawnee, Indiana. And with Leslie ready to move on from her beloved hometown, it might be the beginning of the end for Amy Poehler and Co. on the small screen.
Aside from Leslie, the rest of the Parks crew have very little room to grow. Though it was a big twist at the end of last season, loveable libertarian Ron Swanson is ready and willing to become a dad. Chris and Ann are about to have a kid of their own, and actors Rob Lowe and Rashida Jones are leaving the show within the next few episodes. Tom Haverford has proven he can be a successful businessman, and in last night’s episode, got a new position as Pawnee’s business liaison. So aside from finding his own boo to settle down with, he’s pretty stable, too. April’s dark cynicism is beginning to crack as she learns to love her job, though her man-child husband Andy is still searching for his true, non-Mouse Rat calling. Donna will always be Donna, and office peon Jerry/Gary/Larry/Lenny will probably never earn his coworkers’ respect – but who needs it when you have a beautiful wife (Christie Brinkley) and a huge penis?
Then there’s ultra-loyal husband Ben, who’s already played in the political big leagues and will stand behind Leslie’s next move no matter what. That just leaves Leslie and her unwritten future. There’s no way the writers will end the series with her settling for mediocrity. And barring a flash-forward (or dream-sequence) twist, the show won’t last long enough for her to achieve her goal of becoming the first female President. So wouldn’t Congesswoman Knope be a fitting way for Parks and Rec to go out?
NBC has yet to say whether or not this will be the show’s final season, but smart money says that the end is approaching faster than fans would like. After yet another pre-season timeslot change, the network bumped a few episodes back – airing the Halloween and Election Day editions way after their real-life counterparts had passed – and announced that following the November episodes, the show was on hiatus until 2014. On the bright side, last night’s 100th episode garnered 3.37 million viewers, up 40 percent from November 21st, which drew a series low of 2.7 million.
Just over a year ago, the cast and crew didn’t even know if they’d be picked up for a sixth season, with showrunner Michael Schur penning Leslie and Ben’s wedding episode so it could serve as a series finale, just in case. Still, getting to, and above, one hundred episodes is a huge achievement and, Arrested Development and Veronica Mars aside, there are only so many times a low-rated, devoutly worshipped show can fade out and rise again years later. So wherever she might get elected, vote Knope in 2014.