Had a marathon session with Parks and Recreation (season 4), and my face hurts a bit from smiling too much. Besides being overall very warm, friendly and very funny, there are some really touching moments that make me realize how much I’m invested in the series. Moments that were romantic without being sappy, and sad without the irony or comedic relief. There’s a solid narrative structure to it that has spanned over the series’ length, and rather than going stagnant or desperate with show ideas in the later seasons, P & R is always moving forward. It has this progressive energy to it that I don’t see in other shows, the cast of characters becoming more of a family than just odd couplings in increasingly awkward situations for quick laughs.
In contrast, it seems typical of other comedies to combine embarrassment and wit, featuring plots where there’s always a growing problem they’re steering to avoid. Likable yet miserable characters. (Schadenfreude?) I laugh at these, but I never feel good, if anything, afterwards. I believe the core of these other comedies seems more or less based around fear, whereas the core of Parks & Rec is absolutely based around love.