The cast of Parks and Recreation recently brought back all the feels when they appeared at Paley Fest in Los Angeles. We hadn’t seen the whole crew in one place since the show wrapped a few years ago and while members of the cast have gone on to become huge names (see: Pratt, Chris) it was still pretty delightful to see them all together again.
After seven seasons, Parks and Recreation closed up shop in 2015 with a vision of the future. The show’s main character, Leslie Knope, became the mother of triplets and ended up working for the National Park Service. Andy Dwyer found success as Johnny Karate, a children’s entertainer. Ron Swanson finally left government work to run his own construction company.
As with other beloved comedies like The Office, Seinfeld, and Friends, it was tough saying goodbye, but it also felt like it was time.
The fact that the show even ran for as long as it did seemed like a victory, as it was constantly in danger of being canceled. The show’s creator, Michael Schur, frequently admitted that every season finale could have doubled as a series finale if needed because they operated under the impression NBC could pull the plug on them at any time.
Parks and Recreation also proved to be a great example of the power of course-correcting, as it stumbled coming out of the gate in its first season and was forced to change things up heading into the second.
The biggest adjustment was Knope and, specifically, how the other characters treated her. Initially, she was giving off Michael Scott vibes and the other characters responded accordingly. The shift that started in the show’s second season was making her more likable. In turn, the other characters started to respect her, love her, and—when needed—fight for her.
The result was a show that was unflinchingly sweet and endlessly endearing; a show where you actively routed for the characters involved.
Sweetness and likability aside, let’s talk about doing some drinking. Specifically, let’s talk about which cast member of Parks and Recreation would be the best person to do some drinking with.
You have a night to kill in good old Pawnee, Indiana. Who are you going to spend it with?
Only one rule: NO SNAKE JUICE.
Honorable Mention: Patton Oswalt’s Filibusterer Character
Oswalt appeared in an episode during season five of the show as a Pawnee resident who was upset that Knope, then a member of the Pawnee City Council, was set to erase a law that called for the throwing of a dude named Ted into a lake. Oswalt’s character, a traditionalist who realized that the law was sure to be overturned, elected to filibuster to delay its overturning.
The result was a nearly ten-minute-long rant, completely improvised by Oswalt, that was a pitch for Star Wars VII, which hadn’t been released at that time.
Now, I’m not saying I want to spend a lot of time with this fella but I would be very interested in having a drink or two with him just to hear more of what he has to say about a Star Wars/Marvel crossover film.
Let’s be honest with ourselves here and admit that even though Jean-Ralphio was a great character to watch, he would be terrible to actually hang out with.
For starters, you would definitely end up paying for him and that wouldn’t be cheap because homeboy seems like someone who likes his drinks to be on the expensive side. On top of that, he’s all but guaranteed to offer to pay for other people’s drinks and doing so with no intention of him being the one actually footing the bill.
So you’re paying for yourself, for him, and for whoever he magnanimously offers to pay for. Not a good situation to say the least.
He’s also liable to make some wild claim that his drink was poisoned or something along those lines in an attempt to swindle some money from whatever establishment he has dragged you to. There’s no way that’s ending well for you at all.
11. Jerry Gergich
Jerry. Garry. Larry. Terry. Mr. Mayor.
Jerry was a man of many names, something that could admittedly be a little confusing after a few drinks. While it has become universally agreed upon that Jerry was a super nice guy, he was also not the most exciting dude out there.
He’s also a little bit of a liability.
The chances that he does something like spill a drink or fall off a barstool (or spill a drink while falling off a barstool) are incredibly high if not completely inevitable. No one has time for that. I’m busy enough making sure my young daughter doesn’t kill herself. I don’t want any part of being involved in such nonsense while out drinking.
10. Craig Middlebrooks
Craig, played by Billy Eichner, joined the Parks Department in the show’s sixth season, when Pawnee and the neighboring town of Eagleton merged.
He was loud and he was passionate and yes, there is really nothing wrong with either of those things. However, they can be a lot to deal with. It took the Pawnee folks a few episodes before they knew how to handle Craig and all you have is one night.
You know how some peoples’ quirks become amplified after a few drinks? Doesn’t it seem like Craig would just get louder if he had a few shots in him? Maybe you are cool with someone like that but I’m not. If I’m out with Craig, I’m bailing after drink two and not looking back.
I respect your passion, Craig. Just not right now.
9. Tom Haverford
There’s a good chance that a night out drinking with Tom would result in you being confused by what the hell he was talking about, getting roped into investing in one of his less than stellar money-making schemes, and God help us all if he wants to take you to one of the new spots he’s read about in Things magazine.
Fast forward to the end of the night and you are definitely having to carry Tommy out to his Uber (or Lyft. I’d assume he would have a preference). I feel like he’d be an Uber guy because it came first. Is one more popular than the other? That would probably factor into his choice.
I’d like to think that Tom would agree with me when I would tell him how I don’t trust people who drive for both Uber and Lyft. I appreciate loyalty, so when I see people are driving for both, it just doesn’t sit right with me. I don’t think it’d sit right with him either.
It’s hard to say what we would talk about next.
8. Chris Traeger
Man, we would end up exercising at some point, wouldn’t we? Or toasting to things we are grateful for? Or making pledges to become better people because the universe requires it and we owe it to said universe?
Not while we’re out drinking, buddy. That makes literally zero sense.
On the plus side, he would undoubtedly be very encouraging if I decided to just start throwing back shots. So, you know, kind of a mixed bag here.
7. Leslie Knope
A night out with Leslie would get sloppy super quick but in the best possible way. Drunk Leslie was one of the best things about Parks and Recreation hands down and all signs point to her being a lot of fun to hang out with.
So many drunk high fives. So many! I love regular high fives, which means that I really love drunk high fives. The key is to make sure your feet are good and planted so as to avoid falling down. Falling down drunk means getting up drunk and getting up drunk comes with its own unique set of challenges.
Of course, Leslie would be there to help you, which is reassuring. No one will ever question Leslie’s devotion to the people around her.
Oh, and she would definitely know the bartender, something I suppose could be either a good thing or a bad thing.
6. Ann Perkins
It’s hard to rank Ann above Leslie, and in actuality, it’s more like they are 6A and 6B. The only reason I would rank Ann higher than Leslie is mainly based on her personality and almost more importantly, my personality.
I’m somewhat of a laid-back person, and in turn, I kind of prefer hanging out with other laid-back people. There’s something about hanging out with someone who is around the same speed as you that is comforting.
Ann is more my speed than Leslie is. It’s really as simple as that. Leslie would be a blast for sure, but it’s like picking a marathon over a sprint when it comes to picking Ann over Leslie. Are you looking for a short blast of fun or enjoyment over a longer period of time?
If you picked the latter, like I would, then Ann’s your choice.
5. Ben Wyatt
Ben would be the easiest person to hang out with by far. It’d be even easier if you are a fan of Game of Thrones or 90’s alt-rock. Who doesn’t want to spend an hour or two talking about Letters to Cleo?
If you are really interested in what it was like being the youngest mayor ever and the logistics of creating Ice Town then buckle up because all bets are off.
Besides being able to talk about things that are infinitely fun to talk about, I feel like Ben would be someone who would appreciate some quiet and not feel compelled to fill moments of silence that are bound to happen while sitting at a bar for a decent amount of time.
Let’s just chill, man. Let’s just stare off into the distance or blankly in the direction of the nearest television. There’s nothing wrong with that. You know it, I know it, and Ben Wyatt knows it.
And look, if things start to get a little too quiet and the welcome silences get a little too long and you need to mix things up, you know Ben is familiar with finding new and interesting ways to pass the time.
Tackling random projects like creating a weird role-playing game sounds like a great way to cap off a night of drinking. I don’t know. Maybe Ben should have been higher on this list.
4. Andy Dwyer
Okay, before we go any further, I think it’s important to clarify that the distance between the characters ranked in the top five is super, super, super slim. It’s like a photo finish in a race run by several Usain Bolts as opposed to a race run by one Usain Bolt and several awkward white dudes from down the street.
In the scoring, which is highly secretive and—like the Mueller Report—unlikely to ever see the light of day, Andy is closer to being ranked number one than he is number five.
With that said, if there is a knock on Andy it’s that he fancies himself a musician—specifically a singer. Anyone who has ever hung out with a musician knows that when in the vicinity of one, there is always one potentially dangerous thing that is bound to happen, and when it does, you are powerless to stop it: they’ll force you to listen to their music.
As great as Andy is, his band was definitely not the best.
That could make for a long night.
We also can’t sleep on Andy’s potential as a flight risk when it comes time to pay the bill.
So yes, Andy is ranked fourth.
3. April Ludgate
April is ranked higher than the lovable oaf that is her husband because sitting at a bar and talking shit about everyone around you is one of the greatest joys left in this country of ours. If you can find someone who is fun to do that with you’ve essentially won the lottery.
I would then be hard-pressed to think of any television character who would be better to engage in some petty-ass, completely merciless people-watching and shit-talking with than April. It’d be savage and I am so down. So down!
Also, remember the episode where the whole gang was out at a fancy club and April kept figuring out different ways to get free drinks? Yeah, that right there is a valuable life skill and if it’s a skill you yourself don’t have, then you latch on to someone that does and never let go.
NEVER LET GO!
2. Donna Meagle
Donna would also be a quality hang when it comes to posting up in a bar and commenting on the rest of the place. But where she differs from April is the various directions a night with Donna could go. We’re talking about one of the originators of Treat Yo Self here! Like my good friend Kevin Garnett once said, “ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE!”
Donna is liable to have the line on some quality low-key spots or super dope place that you thought only existed in the “Dreams” section of Things magazine.
A night out with Donna could include court-side seats at a Pacers’ game or box seats at a Colts’ game or a trip in her cousin Akon’s jet to one of those secret rich people islands that you hear about on E!.
A wildcard in the best possible way, you’d be ill-advised to sleep on Donna’s potential as an all-star drinking buddy.
1. Ron Swanson
This is a safe space. This is a space where we can admit things that we might not admit in other spaces to other people. But we’re all friends here so I feel like I can admit that I’m not sure I could hang with Ron effin’ Swanson.
It wouldn’t be for lack of trying and I’d give it my all. However, I have a sneaking suspicion that if the situation presented itself and I was able to sit down and have a few drinks with Ron, I would be more Ben Wyatt than anyone else.
Also, I love a good gin and tonic. However, if Ron discouraged me from drinking one, I would follow suit and drink what I’m assuming would be whiskey. Another fun thing about me is that I’m prone to succumbing to peer pressure, especially in social situations.
It feels so good to get all of this off of my chest.
Hesitations about keeping up aside, there is no doubt that Ron Swanson is a quality hang. If you did find yourself in Pawnee for a night and were looking for someone to saddle up to a bar with for a few hours, Ron is the ideal candidate. Remember the thing about silence and how it’s not always a bad thing? Ron would get that.
It’s true that conversations when hanging out with Ron might be few and far between, and if they were to happen, you would have to do most of the heavy lifting. However, it’s not as if Ron wouldn’t contribute. He’s one of those dudes who might not talk a lot, but when he does, he says something pretty good.
“America: The only country that matters. If you want to experience other ‘cultures,’ use an atlas or a ham radio.”
“There’s only one thing I hate more than lying: skim milk, which is water that’s lying about being milk.”
“Any dog under fifty pounds is a cat and cats are useless.”
“When people get a little too chummy with me I like to call them by the wrong name to let them know I don’t really care about them.”
If you find yourself hanging out with someone like Ron—someone who is a man (or woman) of few words—all you can hope for is that they’re going to say something interesting and it’s something you can work with to keep things going. Ron has no trouble doing that as any Google search of “Ron Swanson quotes” can prove.
And you never know. Things could always get a little weird.
Best to just buckle up, drink your scotch like a man, and see where the night takes you (probably to Food and Stuff to buy all of the bacon and eggs they have).