Not Your Typical Woman: “Parks” leaves impression with last farewell

Will Hyde

Amy Poehler’s unashamedly feminist series, “Parks and Recreation,” came to a close this week as the nation laughed and cried at the crew’s last farewell. The emotional finale reminded viewers what front-woman Leslie Knope (Poehler) is all about. The final season ended with heartache as audiences looked into the future to see the fruits of Knope’s labor.

“Parks” symbolizes the rolling tide of gender equality following the millennials as they mature into adulthood. Knope and her casual commentary on LGBT acceptance, female involvement and racial equality gives millennials hope that one day the country will be as inclusive as Pawnee, Indiana. 

Poehler, like her peers Tina Fey, Kristen Wiig and other female comedians originating from the last wave of SNL veterans, work tirelessly to progress female comedians. Perhaps one of the last vestiges of perceived female inadequacy,  comedy is often reserved for men. Poehler shoved her way to the top, using every step taken as a podium to preach feminist values. With the help of “Parks,” she succeeded in encouraging audiences everywhere. 

Knope voices the overwhelming positivity and sturdy optimism of a rising generation of empowered women. Poehler shares her vision of the perfect America — one that accepts many people and recognizes everyone in a community from small towns to larger cities. She humorously takes shots at the irritations of bureaucracy while maintaining the sanctity of public service.

Knope, by her own admission, is the product of feminism. Her character, born of strong role models, learned to fantasize political success. Knope, much like Poehler, picked a career in one of the most masculine spheres of society and spent her entire life breaking through glass ceilings.

Knope and the folks at “Parks” are teaching very important lessons. A story like hers hasn’t been told many times before. Females who not only aspire to a life in the political world, but also accomplish their plans are not often spoken about. Knope’s rise to power is not one laden with corruption or shady money, her story is a positive example of female ambition. Unlike many negative portrayals of determined women, she does not sacrifice her convictions, stray from the path or come across as “bitchy,” and is, in turn, rewarded for her hard work. Knope is so revolutionary because audiences are finally treated to a female character whose drive and talent gain her fortune and success. 

Knope, however, is not without her faults. Throughout the show, she is frequently too stubborn and bossy. Once described as a “steam roller,” Knope’s personality is somewhat strong and hard to handle. She hypes up the trivial and is sentimental about the smallest of things.

For some, her eagerness and cheer may be too much, but her message is undeniably positive. Poehler uses Knope’s character traits to comment on larger female issues in a patriarchal society. She takes on female stereotypes like nagging, female issues in dating and female struggles like masculine opposition. 

The show did its best to subtly advocate for gay inclusion and women’s rights without coming across confrontational or condescending. 

Knope gives girls a positive outlook as they face a world wrought with sexism. She shows that anyone can attain success if they are prepared to fight for it. It is safe to say, the country needs more Leslie Knopes.