I began watching Parks and Recreation during my teenage years. I immediately admired the character of Leslie Knope. The series follows Leslie, a persistent optimist and committed public servant, as she works to fulfil her many ambitions. Leslie provides an important feminist role model who teaches audiences many valuable lessons. 

Throughout the series, Leslie’s main motivation is wanting to help people. This continual support of others makes her a significant advocate for friendship. The series overturns the unpleasant trope of judgemental female friendships, instead only depicting supportive relationships.  Leslie’s love for her friends is most visible as she creates Galentine’s Day, a holiday dedicated to celebrating women’s friendships. 

Leslie’s passion for work equals her love for her friends. While her desire to work is excessive, her optimism and determination is inspirational. Leslie’s enthusiasm enables her to infiltrate male-dominated places of work. For instance, she highlights the need to employ more women as garbage collectors and is the first woman elected to Pawnee’s city council. Through Leslie, Parks and Recreation highlights the need for greater gender equality within the workplace.

The series also encourages us to admire many real-life political female role models. Leslie’s Wall of Inspirational Women includes pictures of Michelle Obama, Hillary Clinton, Condoleezza Rice, and Madeline Albright. These images introduce audiences to a range of inspirational women. Leslie demonstrates an admirable self-belief as she places herself among these women. She states that she is “big enough to admit that I am often inspired by myself.” 

It is Leslie’s tenacity that makes her such an important figure. She faces many challenges to overcome, yet she always refuses to give up. Leslie Knope’s vivacity and determination teaches us the importance of having ambition, being kind to others, and working hard.

-Charlotte Wilson
Junior Girl
Girl Museum Inc.

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