1. She has lovely, honest, real female friendships. Do you remember that episode where Tom creates a “word cloud” from Leslie’s emails, and “Ann” is one of her most frequently used words? How great is that. I feel like Ann and Leslie’s friendship is written for women, making it a totally winning example of how Parks and Recreation passes the Bechdel Test.
2. She loves her work, and is unashamedly hardworking and ambitious and derives personal satisfaction from doing her job well, even though it’s comedically unimportant. She is celebrated for being competent, which, when you think about it, is phenomenally unusual for a comedy.
3. She is a feminist; an actual feminist activist who agitates for women’s rights at all levels. Does this mean postmodern feminism is over? I HOPE SO.
4. She loves craft. She makes thoughtful gifts for her friends and colleagues and they really appreciate them. She is also really good at craft, and many other things besides. One of my beefs with Liz Lemon has always been that she’s crap at everything in life except work. Leslie Knope is an over-achiever and proud of it. Plus she’s great at bowling (ask Ron).
5. She’s enthusiastic and passionate and earnest, and is respected for it. After watching Parks and Recreation I now look at a show like Community and feel like the humour only comes from cynicism and taking the piss. It’s so early 2000s. I love that Leslie is kind and happy and gets to be the show’s hero rather than the show’s fall guy. Also, she gets to be freaking hilarious.