My favorite shows — ever, with the possible exception of Barney when I was three — are Parks and Rec and The Office.

They are two of the only shows I return to for reruns (other examples: Friends, Gilmore Girls). Everything else, I watch once and then place permanently on the (figurative, digital) shelf.

Both shows are hilarious, they’re smart, and they meet you where you are when you feel like you have a small job in a small place. But that’s not why I keep returning to them. Both shows are about people who are good to each other.

They’re not about people who are saccharine-sweet to each other. Both shows are full of fights and stumbles. But in both, there is very little cruelty, very little backstabbing, less of a sense that people are being judged by a slim criteria of acceptable traits, physical and otherwise. There is a respect in both for who people are — even the bumbling Michael, even the ridiculous Leslie.

So many shows aren’t like that. Even Brothers & Sisters, my current binge-watching show of choice, features a whole lot of family backstabbing — even though it’s about, the whole show is about, this big, rambling family and their loyalty to each other. That’s the episode format — someone gets stabbed in the back, someone goes way over the line, and then they make up.

That is not the kind of life I want to live. I want to live in community with people — my friends, my coworkers, my family especially — and, yes, I want to fight with them! I want to have honest arguments. I don’t necessarily want to make mistakes — but I don’t want to be a robot either, so I know that I will often say the wrong things.

I don’t want to prioritize myself over other people. I don’t want to set off the laugh track by making easy digs at people who don’t fit seamlessly enough into the culture around me.

I want relationships that are built on stumbling and mistakes, a life that cuts people some slack — a life someone would be comfortable returning to in reruns.

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