The Parks and Rec Open Thread

There was no new Parks and Rec episode last night (BOO!), but we didn't have an Open Thread for last week's Galentine's Day episode, so let's talk it about now, okay?! OKAY!

image of Leslie Knope Happy Galentine's Day card featuring hearts reading Power, Wisdom, Ladies

My absolute favorite part of this episode was Chris' DJing while he was super depressed. That was LITERALLY the worst Valentine's Day music I have ever heard.

Also, scatx and I were both rewatching the ice rink grand entrance scene ("Get on your feet!") from the previous episode like 9,000 times this week, because nerdz, and, while I was watching it on the 8,573rd time and laughing until I cried, I was also thinking about how genuinely radical the Leslie Knope character really is, and how radical a plotline it is that she's got a male partner who is profoundly supportive of her career.

That there wasn't an arc about his "coming to terms" with her career, that it was just taken as read that he was going to be her ally because her ambition was part of what he loves about her, is a really revolutionary departure from the familiar rom-com construction of a dude who "learns" how to love am ambitious woman only after he sees that trying to crush her dreams makes her unhappy. (Quelle surprise!) Ben is already a fully-realized equal partner, who wasn't written to "grow" for the benefit of men in the audience who are assumed to be unable to relate to a man like that.

I feel like P&R is saying to those men: We won't indulge your tiresome discomfort with ambitious women. We expect more.

And, in doing so, it's also acknowledging that there are men in the world who are and have been unconditionally supportive of their female partners' ambition, who navigate without some boner-killing identity crisis the negotiations and compromises innate to any two-career partnership. Ben, I thought, is kind of a gift to them. Here YOU are. We see you.

Tangentially: One of the things that I always think makes P&R the most feminist show on television is that there's no regular foil for Leslie's feminism, even outwith her romantic relationship. Ron is the obvious candidate for that role, but he doesn't actually fill it. He continually recognizes Leslie's competency and general awesomeness. But I digress.

I also had this sort of related thought about how radical it is that all of this is taking place in small-town red(dish) state America. I live in a small town in Indiana, and I'm involved enough in local politics I've got the mayor's cell phone number, you know? This show is about women like me. And it speaks to me, reflects some of the realities of being a feminist outside a media/creative career in a major urban center, in ways that shows like The Mary Tyler Moore Show or Murphy Brown never did, even though I love those shows.

(It's also one of several fundamental differences between P&R and 30 Rock, which is a show I don't like.)

Being a feminist here, and being a feminist when I lived in Chicago for a decade, can in some ways be two very different things. I like seeing that acknowledged by P&R.

So, anyway. Those are my thoughts! What are yours?

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