As Parks and Recreation pauses for its holiday break, things are kind of in a state of flux for Leslie Knope. Spoiler alert (if you’re several episodes behind), she lost her recall election and was unceremoniously voted off the Pawnee city council. Her dreams of government conquer have been delivered a blow, and – for now anyway – she’s back to being a plain old Parks Department employee. But if Parks and Rec devotees know one thing by now, it’s that nothing keeps Leslie down. So what’s next for our golden girl?
Well, during her last 30 days in office, she’s used her remaining power to fight for fluoride in the Pawnee-Eagleton water supply, and she launched the Pawnee Commons project. Meanwhile, her best friend (the beautiful tropical fish, Ann) is moving to Michigan, and her husband (inventor of The Cones of Dunshire, Ben) is job-hopping. Her employees all seem to be trying to figure out where they belong best (should Tom be a mogul? should Donna be a real estate agent? should Andy and April move out to the woods?), and Leslie is going back to her roots by building a public park. But no matter what project she’s working on, or in what capacity, her goal is still the same: To make life better for every Pawneean.
So how can she accomplish that goal moving forward? I think she has a three options.
Stay and revel: As ambitious as she is (the White House has been her goal since she was five), Leslie has a gift for making the best of a less-than-ideal situation. She’s never one to complain, being more apt to use disappointment as a launching pad for new ideas than an excuse to wallow. And now that she doesn’t have city council duties to worry about, Leslie can use all that spare brain power to make better parks, host more elaborate festivals, and think of even more creative ways to make her city an amazing place to live. How ’bout bringing conferences to the town? How ’bout an initiative to repaint all those horrifying murals? How ’bout building a Li’l Sebastian Museum? Let’s see whatever’s in all those massive idea binders come to fruition.
Move up: So city council didn’t work? Go for mayor next time! More power could mean more chances to improve Pawnee. Leslie knows the ins and outs of campaigning now (and this time, she wouldn’t have to deal with a campaign-manager-affair scandal), and she could have the same ragtag dream team supporting her (minus Ann and Chris.) The city knows her as a leader now, even though sure, she’s slightly disgraced after being recalled. But c’mon – Leslie’s great at changing people’s minds. And she really is born to lead. In the imaginary Parks universe, I think it’s inevitable that she will eventually wield a lot more power than a chair on city council. Why not fulfill that imaginary inevitability sooner rather than later?
Move out: As dedicated as Leslie is to Pawnee, the fact remains that the reasons for her to stay in the town at all are dwindling. She’s not on city council anymore; Ann is gone; Ben isn’t really tied there geographically for work anymore… Maybe she could do more good elsewhere. Maybe it’s time for a move. Drastic, maybe, but it could work. Parks itself has been feeling like it’s winding down this season, with characters settling in to new jobs, new homes, new marriages, new babies… So maybe the show could use Leslie’s career flux as a chance for major change – a new city, a new career direction, something completely different. If we’re thinking drastic, maybe it could even be the springboard for a spinoff. I would totally watch Parks and Recreation: Boise.
What do you think Leslie’s next move should be? Is there an option I didn’t think of, maybe involving waffles? Add your thoughts in the comments!
Hannah McIlveen is a freelance graphic designer and TV-obsessed writer living in Nova Scotia, Canada. She grew up riding horses and reading Roald Dahl books, got an art degree, and then spent the next several years moving around the country and watching television. Her greatest goals in life are to write good stuff, produce a web series, build a house with her husband, and have six cats at once. Hannah has contributed to BitchMagazine.org and is a staff blogger for the soon-to-launch TeenSized.com. She also writes her own daily blog, Click Watch Write. Hannah can be accosted on Twitter @ClickWatchWrite.