Parks and Recreation vs. The Office: Which Sitcom Better?

Two beloved sitcoms that are equally matched

Audrey White, Opinions Section Editor

People love to laugh, and what better way to get endorphins flowing than to watch a sitcom? 

Although The Office came out in 2005, and Parks and Recreation in 2009, both sitcoms have maintained a level of timeless humor and relevance. Both of these shows have been created by writer and producer Michael Herbet Schur, who also played Mose Schrute in The Office


Thanks to streaming services, Parks and Recreation and The Office have seen a resurgence with younger generations. Although these sitcoms were originally released over a decade ago, the jokes still hold up and continue to make audiences laugh. Parks and Recreation tends to be overshadowed by The Office, yet still remains a definite to-watch if you haven’t already. 


Parks and Recreation and The Office are filmed in what is known as a mockumentary, in other words, both shows are filmed as documentaries that incorporate comical or parodied elements. The Office follows a group of people who work together at a Pennsylvania paper company called Dunder Mifflin. The show mainly focuses on uncomfortable and laughable situations that are usually awkward. Whereas Parks and Recreation’s format mimics that of The Office, as a group of people who work together in an Indiana town for the parks and recreation department. Each episode for both of the shows always follows a new storyline with extended character development, so the sitcoms follow a progression and have structure, but can also be watched independently. The episodes for both sitcoms also feature clips of individual characters being spoken to by the “camera people”- who rarely make appearances.


As an avid Office watcher, at first, I refused to watch Parks and Recreation. However, after some prodding from others who loved both of the shows, I decided to give it a try. The first season was so dry and disorganized that I almost gave up watching it, but I would have missed out on so many comical moments! Each season is better than the last. I would argue that the characters are more relatable and cohesive in Parks and Recreation than in The Office, although the characters from The Office flow together as a more realistic representation of coworkers. The tone of the show is active and lively, with a constant stream of jokes and absurd situations. What is really special about Parks and Recreation that I felt The Office missed out on a little bit, was the friendships and community aspect that the characters share. Not to mention that Parks and Recreation really play on funny everyday things, showing the beauty and fun in ordinary life. 


The Office…where to begin? This workplace comedy is over the top, cringe at times (in the best way), and memorable. As the seasons progress you become more accustomed to the characters, the show really takes off. The difference in the characters shows a layer of complexity and development which really adds to the brilliance of this show.  The humor is without boundaries- it is awkward, it plays on taboo topics, and it is raw and authentic, making it rewatchable. Another special element of The Office is that it’s transparent- the show truly shows you the reality in people’s lives, the uncertainty, the happy, and the sad. This show is over the top and wild and it has definitely made its mark on pop culture.


Ultimately, some people will favor one sitcom over the other, but the truth is that it is entirely dependent on a person’s preferred humor. If you enjoy awkward situations, dramatic characters, and intense humor, then The Office is the way to go. But, if you enjoy wholesome, laid-back humor with strong character relationships, then Parks and Recreation is probably your cup of tea. Either sitcom is definitely worth your time, as they mirror each other greatly, and will keep you entertained for years to come. Both The Office and Parks and Recreation are available for streaming on Peacock.