Parks and Rec vs. The Office

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Two of the most binge-able shows, and they’re both on Netflix? “The Office,” one of the first mockumentaries of the 21st century, follows the lives of employees at a small paper company in Scranton, Pennsylvania. “Parks and Recreation” features the lives of government employees in the small fictional town of Pawnee, Indiana. While some people see the shows as competitors, they were both created by Greg Daniels, a former writer for “Saturday Night Live.”

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“Parks and Recreation” was originally pitched as a spin-off of “The Office,” which could explain some of its striking similarities. In fact, Rashida Jones, who plays Karen Filipelli in “The Office” and Ann Perkins in “Parks and Recreation,” is a recurring character in both shows! Aside from the talking head portion, a style unique to mockumentaries, both casts have limited interaction with the camera crew that follows them around. However, “The Office’s” Jim Halpert is known for his desperate glances towards the cameras in times of chaos.

Likewise, April Ludgate from “Parks and Recreation” loves to break the fourth wall and acknowledge the crew with her sly looks. Both characters have unique relationships with the cameras that allow them to acknowledge the insanity of their workplaces.

While there are many similarities amongst the casts of the two shows, their overall vibes are quite different. “The Office’s” humor is dry and sarcastic because it reflects the reality of interaction in an office space. The camera crew is supposedly filming a documentary about the American workplace. This can explain why many of the characters appear dull and shockingly average when first introduced. As their characters grow, the show’s jokes and pranks reflect the ongoing banter between coworkers, such as Jim and Dwight’s never-ending feud.

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Meanwhile, “Parks and Recreation” does not reveal what the purpose of the cameras are. However, Daniels explains that filming in the mockumentary style offers a lot of freedom. Many of the employees, such as Leslie Knope and Tom Haverford, definitely put on a character for the cameras. The humor on “Parks and Recreation” is much lighter and more fun than “The Office.” Every character has some redeeming qualities that make them likable. In addition, almost every episode ends with someone learning a life lesson.

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Overall, both shows capture hysterical office friendships and relationships. “The Office” offers subtle and sometimes offensive humor that gets better every time you watch it. While “Parks and Recreation” offers bubbly humor and storylines that just make you giggle. Which one is your favorite? Let us know on Twitter and Instagram @VALLEYmag!


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