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The Hilarious Prop Mistake You Might Have Missed On Parks And Recreation

It's an interesting thought experiment to consider whether a show like "Parks and Recreation," the long-running sitcom by Greg Daniels and Michael Schur, would be as successful if it premiered today. Though critics saw its potential in Season 1, ratings were middling, per Vulture. It needed its Season 2 to really bring the show to fruition and develop its small but loyal audience. In today's television landscape of short seasons and even quicker cancellations, it may not have survived long enough to become one of the best sitcoms in television history.

"People want so desperately in this day and age to declare something thumbs-up or thumbs-down that they declare it immediately," Schur told The A.V. Club in 2011, during the show's 3rd season. "But for a character-based comedy, it's absurd. You don't even know who these people are yet." He would go on to add that fans need to know a show's characters well in order to really find them funny.

Fans have since gotten to know the characters populating the Parks department – Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler), Ron Swanson (Nick Offerman), Tom Haverford (Aziz Ansari), and Ben Wyatt (Adam Scott), among others — and they love them. As Schur said, "Part of the joy is getting to know who the people are. People think the characters got funnier, and I think the real answer is that you just got to know them." 

Indeed, fans now know these characters so well that many of them feel sure that a recently discussed prop mistake is not an error, but a character choice.

Fans think a phone prop mistake is perhaps not a mistake at all

Though the beloved series aired its finale in February 2015, "Parks and Recreation" fans are still talking about their favorite moments. Even details or goofs that have been analyzed before are coming up again. Take, for example, a prop "error" that some fans think was intentional, and not a mistake at all.

In Season 4, Episode 7, "The Treaty," Ron tries to convince Tom to return to his government job at the Parks department after Tom's entrepreneurial venture, Entertainment 720, went belly up due to his own mismanagement. As Tom tries to put on his best face, viewers noticed an error. "When Tom is on the phone here you can see the screen rotate, which means this is a screenshot of the phone screen being used for a phone call," u/peezy8i8 posted on Reddit. They took that to mean the show's props department messed up, by using a photo of a phone call rather than an actual call. Or they should have at least turned on the portrait lock.

Other fans were quick to point out that it wasn't necessarily the crew's mistake, but an intentional thing the character did. "Tom wanted to look like a big shot and was not above faking it," u/E_m_maker pointed out. Given Tom's constant plots and attempts at success, this makes sense. As creator Michael Schur said on a Reddit AMA, "you can't create comedy, or comedic characters, if they don't have flaws."