Show 101: Parks and Recreation

SHOW: Parks and Recreation

PREMIERES: Season 3 premieres Thursday, January 20 at 9:30 p.m. on NBC

THE PREMISE: This little-mockumentary-that-could details the daily happenings of the Pawnee, Indiana Parks and Recreation Department. Deputy Director Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler) is the overly-ambitious and always-charming heart of the show. Her boss, Ron Swanson (Nick Offerman), is a man of few words, many talents, and no motivation whatsoever. Together they lead the Parks Department through all the bureaucratic mumbo-jumbo, marathon-length town hall meetings, and mind-numbing brainstorm sessions befitting a small-town municipal government. And by "they," I mean Leslie. Ron's usually sequestered in his office, debating what kind of meat he should have for lunch.

WHY YOU MIGHT LOVE IT: Well, it’s awesome. If you’re a fan of The Office, you’ll be comfortable with the show’s single-camera, mockumentary-style take on the mundane hilarity of office life. And if you’re not a fan of The Office, you might appreciate the characters' many quirks—from Tom’s wacky fashion sense to Ron’s affinities for pretty, dark-haired women and breakfast food.

WHY YOU MIGHT HATE IT: I find this hard to believe, but Amy Poehler is apparently not everyone’s favorite person. And, okay, not everyone likes The Office—with which Parks and Recreation shares timing, a filming style, and a mundane-workplace-in-a-small-town setting. (But give it a chance! Do it for Ron Swanson!)

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: At the end of last season, the Parks Department suffered severe budgetary cutbacks at the hands of two state auditors, Ben Wyatt (Adam Scott) and Chris Traeger (Rob Lowe). But Ben and Chris aren't all bad, and there definitely seems to be some chemistry between Ben and Leslie—as well as between Chris and Ann Perkins (Rashida Jones), Leslie's best friend who frequently visits City Hall.

As for the rest of the gang, Tom Haverford (Aziz Ansari)—Leslie’s well-dressed, self-proclaimed pimp of a right-hand man—has started to recover from his recent divorce and is dating again. Andy Dwyer (Chris Pratt)—Ann's ex-boyfriend and City Hall's shoe-shiner—and eye-rolling receptionist April Ludgate (Aubrey Plaza) have developed feelings for one another, and the pair even shared a kiss in the Season 2 finale... but Andy compromised the situation by also kissing Ann on the same day. Find out more in the video below.

Follow writer Stefanie Lee on Twitter: @StefAtTVDotCom

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