When "Parks and Recreation" debuted in 2009, it was naturally compared to "The Office." Both are mockumentaries, following a group of eccentric characters who talk directly to the camera.
But while the humor of "The Office" revolved around people who hated their jobs and coworkers — and was often rather nasty and negative — "Parks and Recreation" went in the opposite direction. Central heroine Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler) truly loves her work at the Parks Department and never stops championing her small town of Pawnee, Ind.
Over seven seasons, she created a loyal found family out of her coworkers, who are all wonderfully wacky. The legendary Ron Swanson (Nick Offerman) is gruffly anti-government despite working for the government; a man's man who believes in whiskey, woodworking, brunette women and red meat.
Andy (Chris Pratt) is a goofy musician who's never grown up, a smiley foil to the morbidly sarcastic April (Aubrey Plaza). No one does supreme confidence like Donna (Retta), while practical nurse Ann (Rashida Jones) is the best friend Leslie could ask for.
Leslie's love is an earnest and nerdy accountant named Ben (Adam Scott). The City Manager is the health-obsessed Chris (Rob Lowe). And then there's the department buffoon Jerry (Jim O'Heir), the butt of everyone's jokes who inexplicably has an uber hot wife at home, and the entrepreneurial player Tom Haverford (Aziz Ansari).
The characters are consistently hilarious, as are the numerous scrapes they fall into while serving their community and chasing their dreams. The show's ultimate message? Find what you love and do it with the people you love. Here are some of the episodes guaranteed to make you grin:
8. "JERRY'S PAINTING" (season 3, episode 11). Jerry paints a new mural for City Hall, and everyone's shocked to see the topless centaur looks remarkably like Leslie. Ben gives new roommates April and Andy a crash course on how to stop eating off of Frisbees and finally be adults.
7. "PAWNEE RANGERS" (season 4, episode 4). "Treat yo self," Tom and Donna enthuse in this life-changing episode. The day ends with cashmere everything, mani-pedis all around and Ben in a movie-accurate Batman costume. Meanwhile, Leslie's Pawnee Goddesses have way more fun than Ron's Pawnee Rangers.
6. "END OF THE WORLD" (season 4, episode 6). A local cult is sure the world is going to end tomorrow, so April helps Andy accomplish everything on his bucket list while Tom and his business partner, the always musical Jean-Ralphio (Ben Schwartz), throw the biggest party Pawnee's ever seen.
5. "TWO PARTIES" (season 5, episode 10). When Chris finds out none of the guys have had a proper bachelor party, Ben's big night becomes everyone's big night as the gang moves from restaurants to clubs to an NFL field.
4. "THE HUNTING TRIP" (season 2, episode 10). Leslie's out to prove women can hunt as well as men, but everything goes awry when someone shoots Ron and Donna's Mercedes Benz.
3. "LESLIE & BEN" (season 5, episode 14). In one of the most touching episodes, Ron goes to jail for punching the nasty Councilman Jamm (Jon Glaser), Ann makes Leslie the best wedding dress ever and it all comes together as the happy couple agree: "I like you and I love you."
2. "THE FIGHT" (season 3, episode 13). Everyone goes to Tom's bar, the Snakehole, to support the launch of his new alcohol. With the entire gang drunk and incoherently belligerent it's hard not to cry from laughter.
1. "FLU SEASON" (season 3, episode 2). "Leslie, I typed your symptoms into the computer here and it says you could have network connectivity problems," says Andy. Despite a horrible case of the flu, Leslie's determined to deliver her presentation to the Chamber of Commerce. A hospitalized April makes Ann's day awful while Andy and Ron (the only two left in the office) bond over something called "The Meat Tornado."
• ANGIE BARRY is a page designer and columnist for The Times. To suggest future topics for The B-List, which covers pop culture, history and literature, contact her at email@example.com.