When it comes to television, in my humble opinion, NBCUniversal reigns supreme. I have three favorite television shows, and, with the exception of The Crown and Big Little Lies, they are the only three shows in which I have seen every single episode in its entirety (and in most cases, multiple times). In this exact order, the shows are:
# 1. Parks and Recreation
#2. Brooklyn Nine-Nine
#3. The Office
Upon reading this list, it’s safe to say that I owe much of my television enjoyment to the genius of Michael Schur and his co-workers such as Greg Daniels and Daniel J. Goor. What’s remarkable about their work is what they do with their characters. In every show, classic, yet complex character archetypes are present. Take each protagonist for example. Michael Scott is an over the top goofball who always means well, Jake Peralta is a childish, yet brilliant class clown, and Leslie Knope is an overeager worker bee with a penchant for friendship. They’re easy to summarize, but refuse to be pigeonholed into any one narrative.
Next, when it comes to the supporting characters, you get the whole gamut. A pop-culture fiend with an entrepreneurial spirit like Tom Haverford, a Type A teacher’s pet like Amy Santiago, and a slower and simpler persona such as Kevin Malone. With so many personalities, Schur and fellow show writers could easily let these traits and quirks do the work for them. And they sometimes do for a funny gag or quick laugh, however, the most impressive feat of each of these shows is the way they demonstrate that the whole is greater than the sum of it’s parts. While every cast member has their own distinct identity, they’re at their best when they’re interacting with and learning from those around them. This is precisely where each show suceeds: in showcasing the best of human relationships by proving that no one person can do it all alone. Michael can’t be made to see the consequences of his social faux pas unless his coworkers explain where he went wrong. Jake can’t learn the capacity he has to move-on from his childhood and be a part of his own family until he has a partner like Amy to show him. And Leslie can’t understand how to take a break and/or take chances until her best friend Ann Perkins comes into the picture.
Whether it be the bond between friends, between two significant others, between a boss and an employee, or even between a person and their passions, you can’t help but feel reassured by their compassion for their coworkers and counterparts. Sam Anderson said it best in his article about The Good Place–a show not in my top three, but definitely worth a mention when discussing Michael Schur–called, “What Makes ‘The Good Place’ So Good?”
Schur is famous in the industry for his policy of — as he puts it in polite company — “no jerks.” This applies to every level of every project, from writers to directors to actors, and people say it is life-changing; there is a dedicated group of talent that follows Schur from show to show. His rise to network power has corresponded with a new tone in prime-time comedy, an era of good-hearted humanistic warmth.https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2018/10/04/magazine/good-place-michael-schur-philosophy.html
Thanks to this policy and era, I’m never sad after watching one of these shows. Never disappointed in a turn of events or dejected by a heavy subject. Heavy subjects may be addressed, especially in Brooklyn Nine-Nine, which always seems to handle weighty issues including racial profiling and sexual harrassment in the workplace with such a delicate blend of humour, taste, and sincerity. However, the characters that writers such as Schur created are so intrinsically human and well-intentioned in their efforts that I feel at ease after I conclude an episode. It’s one of the reasons I love entertainment. For me, these television shows can be just as transportive as a highway or a set of wheels. They can pull me out of a mental rut and put a smile on my face. Every time I watch either “Flu Season” from Parks and Recreation, any Halloween heist episode or cold open from Brooklyn Nine-Nine, or a Michael and Holly interaction on The Office, I can power off my TV feeling happier than I was when I powered it on. Honestly, it’s really noice.