There are seven stages of grief and, post-election, America is still working through them, especially denial, anger and depression. What we all need is some optimism, and who better than to bring that into our lives than Leslie Knope, the determined civil servant who never gives up on democracy and the hope of a better future?
The comparisons between "Parks and Recreation" and Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign were endless, as Clinton’s platform of experience and dedication competed with Donald Trump’s series of hyperbole, insults and lies. It was almost impossible to NOT compare it to Leslie’s run for City Council against entitled local playboy Bobby Newport, whose platform seemed to consist of naive entitlement combined with a touch of boyish charm.
For starters, the media’s role in Clinton’s campaign has been thoroughly scrutinized (after the election), and Leslie’s campaign was not without its own scandal, much to the delight of Pawnee’s local talk show, complete with their very own dance troupe, the Gotcha! Dancers. (How soon until Fox News hires them?)
There are times when watching "Parks and Recreation" seems like the worst thing to do because it hits too close to home. Witnessing Leslie, who has devoted her entire life in service to her town, being forced to go up against a man whose stance on abortion is, is “Let's just all have a good time” is nothing short of infuriating, as is watching her state that she has earned people’s votes and then be asked to “scale it back a bit.”
While it’s difficult to think of Hillary without thinking of the word “likability” (and rolling one’s eyes), Leslie faced the same issues. She's called “uptight” and a “pain in the ass,” and when her husband runs for Congress, she’s expected to compete in a pie-baking contest with other political wives. But throughout all of this and more, Leslie never stops. She never humblebrags. She never goes negative. She just keeps working.
And she doesn’t do it alone. Just as Clinton had endless devotees working on her behalf, Leslie had her own family of lovable eccentrics. And she had Ben, a loving partner who not only respects his wife’s ambition, he supports it. Leslie and Ben (and their seemingly endless makeout sessions) personify egalitarian relationship goals for the modern-day feminist.
So if another day of Trump feels unbearable, queue up an episode of "Parks and Recreation" and watch a woman who is able to end a debate by speaking sincerely and honestly and wonderfully that her dopey opponent shouts, "Holy shit, Leslie, that was awesome!"