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The Best Season Of Parks And Recreation, According To IMDb

Parks and Recreation is the comfort show to end all comfort shows. For seven seasons, viewers were invited to spend time with the municipal employees of the fictional small town of Pawnee, Indiana, led by the eternally peppy Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler). The endearing characters were impossible to not root for, whether they were struggling to hold a public talkback session that didn't descend into chaos or meeting up for after-work drinks at the Snakehole Lounge. The show created a genuinely hilarious and heartfelt world that viewers loved to lose themselves in.

For fans of the series, the idea of picking one single favorite season might seem daunting. They are all full of iconic moments, beloved episodes, and storylines that feel essential to the overall arc of the show. Thanks to IMDB fan ratings, however, we can take emotions out of the equation and just look at the numbers. In order to determine which is the best overall season of Parks and Recreation, we deferred to the average episode rating for each.

The rankings were predictably neck and neck (with the exception of the notoriously rocky first season), but it's season 3 that ultimately came out on top. When you stop to consider everything that particular season has to offer, it's not that surprising of a result.

Parks and Recreation season 3 saw the rise of two fan-favorite characters

The first two seasons of Parks and Recreation took their time introducing viewers to the delightfully off-kilter citizens of Pawnee. We warmed up to Ron Swanson (Nick Offerman), became obsessed with April Ludgate (Aubrey Plaza), and fell in love with Andy Dwyer (Chris Pratt). So, it was a bit of a shock when the final episodes of the second season brought two outsiders into the mix.

Indiana state auditors Ben Wyatt (Adam Scott) and Chris Traeger (Rob Lowe) were initially introduced as potential antagonists who represented an existential threat to the entire city government. However, they eventually went on to become two of the best-loved characters of the entire show. And while we were introduced to them in season 2, it was during season 3 that we really got to know Pawnee's newest citizens.

Ben and Chris originally arrived on a temporary basis to navigate Pawnee through its massive debt problem. However, the longer they stuck around, the more enmeshed in the town they became. In the oppressively positive and health-conscious Chris, viewers got a perfect foil for Ron's dour machismo, as well as a love interest for Ann Perkins (Rashida Jones). Meanwhile, Ben's stern personality and unforgiving devotion to balancing the budget set him up on a conflict-fueled collision course with Leslie. Watching Ben and Leslie's constant sparring eventually morph into a perfect Austenian romance is one of the highlights of the entire series.

There were already lots of great characters on the show before season 3, but there's no doubt that the introduction of Ben and Chris helped put the season over the top.

The Harvest Festival story arc is one of the best in Parks and Recreation history

For the first two seasons of Parks and Recreation, the action of the series loosely revolves around Leslie's never-ending quest to turn a large pit in a vacant lot near Anne's house into a park. The absolute devotion Leslie shows to the seemingly banal, but surprisingly convoluted, municipal project is emblematic of what makes the show so magical.

Season 3 introduces a new project for Leslie and her team to take on. When Leslie learns that Pawnee is nearing a total financial collapse that would result in the Parks and Recreation department being dissolved, she puts all her chips on one grand plan: throw a massive Harvest Festival that will bring in enough of an influx of cash to stave off massive cutbacks. If it succeeds, she will have saved the town and given Pawnee a new tool to continue to sustain itself. If she fails, it's the end of the city government as she knows it.

Much of the first half of season 3 focuses on the preparations for the Harvest Festival, which, like the pit before it, turns out to be a challenging process. The story's arc has high stakes and a payoff in the aptly titled episode "Harvest Festival" that provides some extremely well-earned catharsis.

Season 3 has some of Park and Recreation's most iconic episodes

It's not just the new characters and larger narrative arcs that helped push season 3 to the top spot. The season also contains some of the best and most iconic individual episodes in the entirety of the show's run.

The episodes "Fancy Party," which sees April and Andy throwing themselves a surprise wedding, and "Flu Season," where Leslie pitches the Harvest Festival to local business leaders while delirious with fever, are both in the top 10 of the entire series, according to the IMDB ratings. The season also features the uproarious return of Ron's evil ex Tammy II (Megan Mullally) in "Ron & Tammy: Part 2" and the saddest horse memorial service ever in "Li'l Sebastian."

Even episodes from that season that didn't blow the others away in the IMDB ratings are full of memorable moments. "Time Capsule" features an absurdly drawn-out public debate over what items should be featured in the town's time capsule that feels like a perfect encapsulation (sorry) of the show's brand of humor. Similarly, "Eagleton" gives a face to Pawnee's ongoing rivalry with their prosperous and haughty neighbors in the next town over.

Whether or not it's your personal pick for all-time favorite, it's hard to deny that season 3 of Parks and Recreation is one of the best.