With debt and gratitude to Sexist Beatdown, here at Double R Diner we will occasionally post mildly cleaned-up gchats instead of proper blog posts. For our inaugural Pie & Coffee chat post, we’ll be celebrating fictional character Leslie Knope’s fictional holiday Galentine’s Day. By discussing the fictional character Leslie Knope! And all the other things there are to love about Parks & Recreation.
Robin: Happy Galentine’s Day!
Ramona: Happy Galentine’s to you, my dearest of Galentines.
Robin: As part of her Galentine’s gift bag, Leslie gave her girlfriends personalized 5,000 word essays about how awesome they are. Regrettably, I don’t have one prepared.
Ramona: Me neither. Nor do I drink diet soda, and so I cannot be made into a collage.
Robin: But! We can write a 1000-word blog post about what makes Leslie Knope so awesome.
Ramona: OK! First of all, I was introduced to Leslie Knope’s greatness by another great lady, which seems suitable for Galentine’s Day—ladies relying on other ladies to tell the world how awesome they are.
Ramona: Sady Doyle. I saw the first episode and didn’t stick to it, until I read that essay about how woman-positive the show was. And I find myself thinking about that all the time when I watch it. But back to Leslie herself.
Robin: 1. She has a shrine to women in government in her office!
Ramona: And her shrine is non-denominational. Dem and Repub women just chillaxin’ on the wall, being inspirational.
Robin: Denominational! Is that a word people use for politics?
Ramona: No, I was trying to be funny for “shrine” reasons.
Robin: Ah, gotcha.
Ramona: 2. Leslie is AMAZING at her job. For example, (spoiler alert for the Flu episode?) when she steps the podium and gives the amazing presentation despite being near wacky death.
Robin: The flu episode killed me! “Be careful, the floor and the walls are switching”
Ramona: I liked that not only did the show give Leslie her due at the podium,
rather than make her fail and have us laugh at her, we were wowed.
Robin: And Leslie being awesome at her job is why Ben has a crush on her! Which I like!
Ramona: Right it’s great they go so far as to show other characters, dude characters no less, appreciate her competence. And I am very excited by Ben’s crush. He is into her and sort of tongue tied about it, but not just for “Leslie is hot” reasons.
Robin: I also enjoy Ben’s crush on Leslie because I want to squeeze Adam Scott’s adorable Ash Ketchum face.
Ramona: And it’s nice that Leslie isn’t given the “no one likes the nerdy girl” treatment (at least in Season 2). Like, RomComs generally punish women for loving their jobs. Because they interfere with the True Life Goal of Marrying a Generic Hot Dude.
Robin: But in Parks & Rec the other characters all rely on Leslie and respect her for that.
Ramona: Especially Ron. I love Ron! So. Much. I love him in Galentine’s Day in particular, when he steps in to be on Leslie’s side against her less-than-awesome boyfriend.
Robin: Oh! I forgot all about The Tourist. That was another improvement in Season 2, Leslie is less terrible at the non-work parts of her life.
Ramona: Like Season 1 Leslie can’t get a man, and has a bad relationship with her mom.
Robin: Right, Leslie gets men! It’s just she sometimes doesn’t know how to deal with them. Much more woman-positive, realistic, and a better source of comedy.
Ramona: I like that Leslie inspires the dudes in her life with her own greatness
Like when Dave learns about women politicians for her. And Ben is now working to make the harvest festival a success. It’s not a “women change men” thing, it is a “the right person should make you want to be a better person” thing. See also: April and Andy.
Robin: APRIL LUDGATE? You mean My Favorite.
Ramona: Yes, I love April soooo much, but I think April and Andy have improved one another. I was not a big Andy fan in early Season 2.
Robin: You mean when he was stalking Ann?
Ramona: Yes! Un.Pleasant. But he is both much more charming as a performer and as a character now, I think.
Robin: Yeah turning him into a lovable buffoon instead of a lovable, buffoonish STALKER was a good move.
Ramona: I also liked the storyline with Ann and Mark. For the following reasons:
1. Ann is never that into the relationship
2. The show does not punish her for this
3. Mark is a good dude
4. It still ends
Robin: I love the realism of that relationship. Sometimes people are in just-OK relationships! Sometimes one person likes the other way more!
Ramona: Yes, and that does not make the woman an evil bitch harpy, no matter how hot she is.
Robin: I also like Ann and Rob Lowe (Chris?). Mostly because Rashida Jones’s Rob Lowe impersonation is THE PEAK OF HER CAREER AS AN ACTRESS.
Ramona: Yeah, the relationship with Chris has given Rashida Jones more opportunities to be funny. But Parks & Rec is surprisingly accurate it about relationships even amidst all the zaniness. Like, I LOVE Ann and Leslie. So. Much.
Robin: Yes, Ann and Leslie’s friendship is the bestest. I think that is one of the main points in Sady’s essay.
Ramona: One of my favorite moments ever was when Leslie admits to Ann she had been a bad friend. Like, it is not a perfect friendship, but they work at it, in a sweet, funny, and believable way.
Robin: Yes, and Ann so clearly needed a female friend, which it is nice of the show to acknowledge.
Ramona: I also like and when Leslie tells Ann to find out if Mark is her gay penguin!
And they hug!
Robin: As someone who has told friends it is OK for them to date people I had crushed on, I appreciated that scene.
Ramona: And I also appreciated Ann being like “ARE YOU SURE?”
Robin: Because that is what actual friends would do!
Ramona: Another superior Ann and Leslie moment is the Practice Date. How Ann gets Leslie to realize it is just a date, and that Leslie is awesome. Because your friends can tell you a million times that you are pretty and don’t be nervous, but that Ann gets Leslie to say it herself is genius.
Robin: Plus, hilarious, when she gives Leslie the bad date immersion treatment.
Ramona: I also like the show’s depiction of its characters drinking alcohol. It is believable and not judgy. Like when Ann or Leslie get blitzed because they had horrible days. Just like me!
Robin: Yes and Drunk Ann makes out with Chris and it is OK!
Ramona: Yes! Drunken hookups that are OK instead of Shameful Mistakes.
Robin: Drunken kissing is how I landed my fiance.
Ramona: I think the only character I have trouble with is Tom. I feel like everyone else has found their feet, except him and Donna, who is just in it less and less.
Robin: DONNA. She needs her own spinoff.
Ramona: I know! I want more Donna.
Robin: She’s finally in the credits though (like.. not the sequence)
Ramona: I feel like it will is OK that they basically ignore Donna if it is because she and Leslie barely know each other. I am basing that on when Leslie says “that’s by far the best interaction I’ve ever had with Donna.” I hope that wasn’t them playing on the idea of “black women are scary.”
Robin: Donna was at Galentine’s Day, along with a bunch of other chicks we’ve never seen before.
Ramona: I wonder if Galentine’s Day was a real thing for women in the staff to get worked into the show?
Robin: That’s a lovely thought.
Ramona: Amy Poehler does that web show where girls come on and show off their talents
and Amy Poehler says “you’re great!” to them. Which seems Galentine-y.
Robin: Amy Poehler is so awesome!
Ramona: I KNOW.
Robin: Shifting back to what you were saying about Donna, does the show ever address Ann’s race?
Robin: Maybe they gave up because they couldn’t top the Office’s “You are very exotic looking. Was your dad a GI?” But they’ve got that running joke where Leslie thinks Tom is joking when he says he’s from South Carolina. They’re clearly OK with making Leslie a little bit racist.
Ramona: Well, she does live in Pawnee, world capital of the racist mural.
Robin: Don’t forget “A Lively Fisting.” I’m surprised that joke got past the censors.
Robin: So you were talking about Leslie’s relationship with her mom changing.
Ramona: Yes, I feel like in Season 1, which i like to think of as the “finding their way” times, Leslie is depicted as living in her mom’s shadow, and it is all awkward and ungainly. But they dropped that story potential like the bad egg it was.
Robin: Her mom is much more supportive in Season 2, but still not perfectly warm and loving.
Ramona: Which better suits the Leslie they have created.
Robin: But I’m glad they didn’t drop Leslie idolizing her mom!
Ramona: Agreed. Leslie loves to idolize. And I love to idolize Leslie. I want to be her when I grow up. If I love my job as much as she does, and have such lovable people in my life, I will have WON.