'Parks and Rec' Owes Leslie Knope a Better 2014
If anyone's had a bad year, it's Leslie Knope. Known for being positive, passionate, and inspiring, Parks and Recreation 's ultimate role model has spent 2013 fending off attacks from Pawnee citizens, rivals, and even friends. Anyone else would have lost all hope by now, but Leslie is still going because she just operates at a higher level of optimism than the average person. But that doesn't mean she deserves so much hardship and as 2014 approaches, things need to start going her way.
The change was pretty sudden. After 2012 included Leslie being elected to Pawnee's City Council, meeting her celebrity crush Joe Biden, and getting engaged to Ben, the first Parks and Rec episode of 2013 found her almost losing her beloved Lot 48. It also featured what should've been a happy occasion being ruined by opposition — a trend that continued throughout the rest of the year.
That first episode, "Two Parties," took a day that was supposed to be about celebrating love with various penis-shaped items, Leslie's bachelorette party, and marred it with Councilman Jamm trying to build a Paunch Burger on Lot 48. Rather than enjoy the party Ann threw her, Leslie had to work to find a way to stop Jamm from ruining something very important to her. Actually, if you really want to simplify Leslie's year, it can be summed up in four words.
Usually when Leslie is facing some opponent, it's something broad, like Pawnee's apathy or a restrictive law, or sometimes it's a person, but one who doesn't really stand a chance against her, like Bobby Newport or Marcia Langman from the Society for Family Stability Foundation. In Jamm, she found the worst kind of nemesis: a capable one.
Jamm is smart, calculating and most importantly, unethical. As someone who prides herself on doing the right thing, it's hard for Leslie to combat someone who will lie, cheat, and manipulate his way to a victory. Every time it seemed that 2013 was finally going Leslie's way, Jamm interfered.
When she and Ben decided to get married at Pawnee's gala, Jamm got drunk and interrupted it. Sure, they ended up having a beautiful wedding in the Parks department's office, but only after Jamm ruined their first attempt. When she threw Ben an awesome early-90s themed roller skating birthday party, he initiated a bill so she had to spend the night filibustering in skates.
Every time Leslie tried to do something good for Pawnee, Jamm tried to sabotage it. But he wasn't the only person who messed up her year.
That's right, Ann Perkins. Though she obviously would never hurt Leslie on purpose, moving to Michigan is going to be really tough for Leslie, especially with everything she's been going through. Ann is her best friend, and as great as Ben is, sometimes a girl just needs her best friend. And anything that makes Leslie feel like this is just not okay.
It's hard to imagine 2014 being remotely better than 2013 if it won't include Ann, but Parks and Rec at least needs to try. The last time we saw Leslie this year, she was trying to make the best of her last few weeks in office — oh right, because she was RECALLED.
After devoting months to a vicious election and another year to serving Pawnee, Leslie was recalled because no one in the town acknowledged how much she had done for them. How can 2014 be remotely better when it means life without Leslie's best friend and job? It's hard to tell, but Leslie has taught us to be positive and believe in ourselves, so let's believe in her.
She had her moments of self-pity after the recall, but then she got up, dusted herself off, and devoted herself to doing as much as possible before her term ended. With that enthusiasm, she might be able to do even more without the rest of the City Council, especially Jamm, holding her back. Maybe Lot 48 will finally begin its transformation into Pawnee Commons or she'll discover a new issue that needs her attention. She might even finally start that family that she and Ben talked about way back in April.
The sixth season of Parks and Rec returns on Jan. 9, and hopefully the new year will bring new opportunities for Leslie. We've spent almost five years rooting for Leslie and more importantly, looking up to her. We need to see her succeed because if Leslie Knope can't do it, who can?
Come on 2014. Be the year of Leslie Knope, we're ready for you, and so is she.