At the end of Parks and Recreation, Jerry is a ten-term mayor who lives to the age of 100, Tom is a successful self-help guru, Donna is a real estate maven, Ron is running a national park, and Leslie might be President of the United States. Everyone’s dreams come true in a time-skipping finale that flows like a phantasmagoria of Obama-era fantasy. And somewhere out there — far, far offscreen — Mark Brendanawicz is working for a private construction firm, or maybe he’s gone back to city planning work, whichever is paying him best and annoying him least at the time. Mark doesn’t end up redesigning Central Park or building the world’s tallest skyscraper. He’s just a guy whose life follows an expected trajectory based on his class position and his geography. So of course he has to leave the show at the end of season two: He’s the downer, the nagging reminder that there are ceilings on personal achievement that have little to do with one’s attitude or willpower. It’s telling that Mark Brendanawicz’s name is never even uttered after his departure despite the fact that he played a major role in the series’ originating events and relationships. He isn’t just forgotten, he’s rendered unmentionable, reduced to the status of taboo in a show that began as a satire of local government but ended up becoming a testament to the ostensibly limitless power of self-belief.
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