Top 5 Reasons You Should be Watching Parks and Recreation:
03. The Women

I think you’d be hard-pressed to find a show that writes or treats its female characters better than Parks & Recreation, and (just as importantly) with as little agenda. Leslie Knope is the best example of it - here’s a smart, capable, confident female character, who’s good at her job and passionate about it, who can say she’s good at hunting or surfing and actually be good at them. She is silly but strong, extremely idealistic but smart, enthusiastic but serious about it. She has female friends she adores (including her mother), which she shows unreservedly. She has a love life - with great boyfriends who clearly genuinely like her - but when she realises something isn’t going anywhere she can pull back and stop it, and she doesn’t mope or mourn its loss unnecessarily, because things keep happening to her, and she is defined by what she is and what she makes of herself - not who she’s with.

Here’s where the treatment of her character comes in - these are qualities she is loved for. Her feminism and crazy passion aren’t the butts of a joke. They aren’t things that she’s loved in spite of. A gruff, largely imperturbable character, the Man’s Man, is openly appreciative of her and loyal to her. Even when she’s making mistakes, she pushes forward, and the show lets her do it.

And look at the other women on this show! Ann, who is pretty and smart, but awkward and kind of stoic. April, who is quietly, confidently sarcastic, but sweet, and open to feeling things, and doesn’t mind telling an old married couple that she’s happy they’re in love, even if it isn’t cool. Interactions with them are not based on how they are girls, but how they are people. No mention of feminine wiles. No period jokes. No insults based on how girly they are. It’s so rare in comedies, and it’s incredibly refreshing.

How much I adore the ways these women interact with one another is only going to make this longer (“Ladies celebrating ladies!” Leslie Knope, I want to be your best friend.), so I’ll just quickly mention that the Leslie-Ann friendship is probably my favourite one on TV - they’re supportive of each other, sweet, caring.

The best part of this is that none of this is ever a Moral. Loving these characters and letting them be is not something the writers beat us on the head with - it comes to the show (and by extension, all the characters) easily, like it’s only natural that they feel that way, and you feel it, too.

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