Feminism, Gender, and Politics in NBC's Parks and Recreation

By Gibbons, Sheila | Media Report to Women, Winter 2018 | Go to article overview

Feminism, Gender, and Politics in NBC's Parks and Recreation


Gibbons, Sheila, Media Report to Women


Feminism, Gender, and Politics in NBC's Parks and Recreation by Erika Engstrom. Peter Lang, 2017.

Truth is often stranger than fiction, but fiction can reveal certain truths. NBC's popular Parks and Recreation, which aired from 2009-2015, provided seven seasons of social commentary wrapped in quality entertainment. The inhabitants of the fictional town of Pawnee, Indiana, and fictional public servant Leslie Knope (portrayed by Amy Poehler) provided "critical commentary on these mythologized notions of a great America," often using humor to do so, according to author Erika Engstrom. One example: characters' comments about the historic murals in Pawnee's city hall, which gave characters the opportunity to criticize patriarchy, racism and sexism depicted in the public art in this pretend town, which was typical of what is found in many non-fictional municipal sites. Leslie Knope, the central character, lived the multifaceted life of a modern woman. She was first an energetic bureaucrat, looking to make improvements in her department and city, and later, a political player as a member of the city council. City politics is exposed for the frat house atmosphere it had long had as Paula Hork, who had been the lone female on the council, tells Knope: "Government was a real boy's club back in the 70s. …

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