Rashida Jones was one of the very first members of the “Parks and Recreation” cast. Rob Lowe was one of the last two regulars added to the cast at the end of the second season. And now both will be leaving together midway through the new season.
BuzzFeed’s Kate Aurthur first reported the news earlier today, and “Parks” co-creator Mike Schur confirmed it in a statement upon his return from London, where the sixth season “Parks” premiere is being filmed.
“The news about Rob and Rashida is true — they will be leaving the show after the 13th episode of the upcoming season six,” Schur said. “We’ve been working on their storyline (on and off) for four seasons now, and heading into this year, with the two of them contemplating parenthood, it felt like a natural time to move them into the next phase.
“We absolutely love both Rashida and Rob, and will be sad to see them go. Rashida was one of the very first people we knew we wanted in the cast, and as important as Ann is to Leslie (and vice-versa), she’ll certainly never be far from Pawnee. Rob we initially thought we could only have for six or eight episodes, and we couldn’t be happier that he will have stuck around for 75.
“They are wonderful, funny, committed actors, they’ve been a huge part of the ‘Parks and Rec’ family, and we think we have a great Pawnee send-off in the works for them.”
This isn’t the first “Parks” cast departure. Paul Schneider was written out just as Lowe and Adam Scott were arriving (later seasons have pretty much forgotten the existence of poor Mark Brendanawicz). But with Chris Pratt missing parts of this season to film “Guardians of the Galaxy” (the premiere was filmed in London so Pratt could appear in it), the comedy may go from feeling slightly overpopulated to feeling very underpopulated by mid-season. Though with the deep bench (Jim O’Heir and Retta, plus all the great recurring guest stars), the series won’t be lacking for funny characters.
I have no idea if this was entirely the choice of the creative team, or Jones and Lowe (who has left several series early in the past), or if NBC mandated a budget cut and these were the two who were sacrificed. But I will say that if the show had to lose two main characters, these would probably be the ones I’d choose, much as I’ve enjoyed both of them on the show. Keep in mind that they were together for the single funniest scene in the series’ history:
Jones’ Ann Perkins became somewhat redundant as both the series’ token straight man and as Leslie’s best friend with the arrival of Scott as Ben Wyatt. And it’s felt like the “Parks” writers have spent the last several years searching for the tricky balance between enthusiasm and cartoonishness for Lowe’s Chris Traeger. Both characters, and certainly both performers, are still capable of providing funny moments before they leave at mid-season, but neither is as integral to the series as when they were first introduced.
But with the two of them leaving at mid-season, and Donald Glover only appearing in a handful of “Community” episodes this season, it’ll be a very different look for NBC’s two comedy survivors by the time we get to May.
What does everybody else think? Does this news have you literally in tears, or are you okay waving goodbye to Ann and Chris?