One of the great disappointments of the past year in television has been "Parks & Recreation"'s relative inability to attract a wider audience, especially when compared to mega-hits like "Two and a Half Men" and "The Big Bang Theory". While the appeal of those two sitcoms is evident, surely television audiences crave more from their comedies than non-stop one-liners and crude innuendos, don't they? Although "Parks & Recreation" has not (yet) neared the brink of cancellation like fellow NBCer "Community", it could stand to get a boost in viewership, not simply for the stability it would bring but because a show with such a well crafted world populated by great characters really ought to be enjoyed by more than a select minority. With that in mind, here are five reasons why everyone should be watching "Parks & Recreation".

Leslie Knope - While the town of Pawnee seems to be swarming with manic eccentrics, the whole affair is nicely anchored by Amy Poehler's Leslie Knope. Although not wanting for some weird behavior herself, Leslie's down to earth sweetness and optimism brings much of the warmth that is so essential to the show's tone. Also, Amy Poehler is hilarious.

Ron Swanson. Chances are if you've heard any praise for "Parks & Rec", it came with heaping orgiastic laudation for Ron Swanson, and with damn good reason. The burly, mustachioed paragon to American individualism and self-reliance is on the short list for funniest character on television. The more the details of his life become unearthed, the stranger and more colossal a figure he becomes, yet it all somehow manages to make sense. Of course, the same man who keeps ground chuck in his desk, buries stashes of gold on his property and almost exclusively dates women named Tammy (including his own midwife) would moonlight as a heartland heartthrob, jazz flautist. He would have to, right?

The Validation of Rob Lowe. For avid Rob Lowe fans (and aren't we all?), his work as Chris Traeger represents something of a second, possibly even third coming. He riffs on his own immaculate features to power the visage-obsessed health freak, pushing his oddities to the hilt.  With an unnerving, eternal, beaming smile he encourages his employees to join him on eleven mile "fun runs", and esoteric regimens. Rob Lowe's work is so tremendously funny, one almost forgives his decision to play Drew Peterson in a Lifetime Original movie. Almost.

Jean-Ralphio. Oh, Jean-Ralphio, you poor, sad, hilarious little man. A gross caricature reflecting the excesses of club culture, Jean-Ralphio has somehow found himself toiling away in the sinkhole that is Pawnee, concocting ridiculous business ventures with his friend, Tom Haverford, and shamelessly hitting on anything that even whiffs of femininity. Jean-Ralphio, in all his moussed-up, sky-high hair glory reflects the best aspects of a stellar reoccurring character: used sparingly, he adds a jolt of energy and laughter to any scene.

Pawnee. One of the great joys of  television is being able to watch a show grow beyond its initial concept and gimmick, expanding the narrow community it centers around into a sprawling world. The town of Pawnee could easily serve as a lazy stand in for Podunk, U.S.A., and to a certain extent it does, but the writers have worked hard to foster its own unique form of crumminess and ennui.  From the insidious, looming specter of Sweetums to the increasingly horrific details of the town's bizarre and maligned past, Pawnee is a town that it is preternaturally hopeless and stagnant.  That's to say nothing of the multitude of small town oddballs and luminous local celebrities that populate the land, from Perd Hapley to Joan Callamezzo to poor, departed Lil' Sebastian.  "Parks & Recreation" has come a long, long way from its humble beginnings as a proposed spin-off to "The Office."