My favorite show ended last night (or two nights ago, if you want to consider its airing time in the US). I didn’t cry, as I expected to, but watching Leslie Knope, played by the incredible Amy Poehler, and the entire cast of Parks and Recreation go on one final adventure together did make me emotional.
I won’t review the finale and I won’t go into details on what they did right and what they did wrong. The entire internet has been buzzing with reviews and articles and quizzes and they’re too easy to find.
I didn’t watch Parks from the beginning of its run: I binged on the first four seasons in less than two weeks then caught up with the episodes as they aired. and with every episode, my love for the show grew stronger and deeper.
It was nice having something to see that wasn’t dark and twisty and required too much thinking- you got swept away in the world of Pawnee, Indiana, and these characters that were each trying to do something with their lives. The humor was always on point and moved the story forward rather than taking cheap shots just to make people laugh- as comedies do.
And then there was Leslie.
I have never identified with a character in a book, show, or film, as much as I have identified with Leslie Knope. I know people hated her in the first season, but I didn’t. She had to be unlikable at the start to be able to relate to her human side.
And as her story progressed, it was difficult not to fall in love with her. I loved her quirks, like her love for waffles, scrapbooks and binders, her remembering of big and small moments and celebrating them all. Many times I have seen my same quirks such as those above being represented in Leslie. I too adore waffles, make binders, and cannot but celebrate every event.
I loved how the show emphasized strong female friendships. None of the bitchy cat-clawing jealousy but friends that actually care about one and another and go to lengths to show love and support. The friendship between Leslie and Ann Perkins is literally the example we all aspire to become with our friends. And the mentorship Leslie provides April with is something we all wish we had at work.
There’s her sweet relationship with Ben- it’s romantic and fairy tale like without being gag-inducing. He is his own person but he has never stood in the way of her dreams and aspirations-and that was perfectly exemplified in the finale. I always loved that they didn’t focus the show on love and family but still managed to give us excellent moments like the proposal and the wedding.
But the main reason Leslie is my soul-sister as I have told anyone who would listen, is her determination. She dreams big and achieves big. They tell her they can’t do something, she goes against the world and takes it one step further. She simply doesn’t take no for an answer. Along the way though, she doesn’t intentionally hurt anyone- her actions are not filthy and negative, she truly does inspire us all to become better people.
As a person, as a woman specifically, I feel Leslie Knope (and by extension the rest of the Parks cast) has taught us a lot about humanity and about feminism. Personally, she’s inspired me to become more focused on my dreams, more attentive to my friends, more supportive of my partner. In fact, i don’t think she’s every inspired anything negative or bad.
You have to hand it to the writers for their amazing work in writing Leslie, and to Amy Poehler for playing her so perfectly. No one else could’ve done her justice. Thank you for bringing us such a positive figure on television!
Parks and Recreation, you will sorely be missed! Thank you for all your laughs and all those moments you made us think. Your characters were unique and never one-note and you allowed us to live their stories with such ease, it felt like we had known them forever.