One More Vote For Knope 2012 – Powerful Woman Monologue #5
About the Author: Andrea Laurion spends her days working as an obituary writer and her nights writing about things other than death. She lives in Pittsburgh’s Little Italy with her cat, Harold, and blogs at andreadisaster.com.
“I have gone on the record that if I had to take a stripper name, it would be Equality.”
Between hair pulling fights (Mod Wives), vicious backstabbing (The Real Housewives of Everywhere) and shallow behavior (practically everything on MTV), popular television isn’t always a female-empowering place. Of course, while none of these shows are taken seriously by critics, their ratings are an advertiser’s dream. Reality television is the ridiculous Facebook friend everyone keeps around because their out-of-control life makes us feel better about our own.
Scripted television, on the other hand, is in the middle of a second golden age. Much of the acclaim for shows with excellent scripts and character development have been bestowed to dramas- The Sopranos, The Wire, Mad Men- but comedies have been given their due as well. There is one comedy in particular that charms me with its realistic, earnest characters: Parks and Recreation. I love everyone on that show, but I want to specifically focus on Leslie Knope and Ron Swanson.
Leslie, played by SNL alum Amy Poehler, is a civil servant with political aspirations living in fictional Pawnee, Ind. She’s enthusiastic, hard working and a self-described feminist. She proudly displays photographs in her office of the women in power she admires (Condi, Hillary, Madeline A.). Whether she’s hunting, organizing meetings or making collages of her friends from the bottles of their favorite diet sodas, Leslie approaches everything she does with confidence and gusto. Leslie isn’t the first self-proclaimed feminist on TV, but she’s one of the first for whom it’s not used as a punchline nor as a way to alienate herself from those around her. Most importantly, she’s human. Her feminism doesn’t keep her from getting jealous of a pretty reporter showing interest in her ex-boyfriend, nor does it shield her from seeing the irony of excluding boys from the girls-only club she started after girls were denied membership with the original troop. Her beliefs don’t make her perfect.
Then there’s Ron Swanson, the moustached meat-loving mountain man who serves as the director of the Pawnee Parks Department. Ron is a bit of an anomaly, preferring a small government while working in a large one. He has given enough one-liners to make him a cult character (“Every two weeks I need to sand down my toe nails. They’re too strong for clippers.”). A masculine wood worker, he’s also more interested in a breakfast buffet than a strip club full of half naked 20somethings. “Give me a self-possessed woman at the top of her game,” he says. In a time when the guys on Jersey Shore give insulting nicknames to the women they deem unattractive, it’s refreshing to have a popular male character who likes successful ladies with ambition. His ex-wives, Tammy 1 and Tammy 2, are many things but weak is not one of them. Not to be forgotten, the woman who raised him, a wild-haired, gun-toting, moonshine-drinking woman also named Tammy, is the toughest of them all.
If you haven’t watched the show yet, I highly encourage that you start with season two. The first season, while it was made with good intentions, is a bit uneven and awkward. Leslie took a while to develop as a character and comes off very needy and naive. It gets much better, I promise.
About the series: Powerful Woman Monologues are compiled in response to the media’s representation of women as inspired by the film Miss Representation. If you would like to participate, email me. Any kind of creative contribution is welcome from anyone.
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