The fifth season finale of Parks and Recreation aired last Thursday, and I’m already in withdrawal. Leslie Knope is the feisty feminist I wish I could grow up to be, but she faced some new challenges as the season came to a close. (Spoilers after the jump.)
Season five ended with Leslie facing a campaign to recall her from her city council position, the job she’s dreamed of since the series began. To motivate Leslie in her fight for her job, and to prepare ourselves for the time we’ll have to go without her, here are the five best feminist moments from Parks and Recreation season five:
1. “Are You Better Off?”
In a side story of this episode, April is accepted to veterinary school. It is her dream to work with animals but she doesn’t want to move out of town and away from her husband Andy. Andy instead encourages her to follow her dream, saying, “We could get through that. It would suck for a while and I would miss you while you’re gone, but, as I’ve known about you for the past twenty seconds, this is your dream.”
April has shown real growth throughout the season, taking over as head of Animal Control before getting in to vet school, and it is reassuring to see her husband supporting her in her success (even after he didn’t get his dream job as a police officer).
2. “Sex Education”
One of Leslie’s first moves as councilwoman is to teach Sex Education to seniors to lower STI rates. However, the conservative members of the town cite a law that forbids teaching comprehensive Sex Ed. In true Leslie fashion, she breaks the law and moves forward with the lesson.
In this episode, Ann begins her search for a sperm donor, because she doesn’t need to find the right guy to start a family. Leslie initially resists Ann’s decision, before realizing that by not supporting Ann, she is acting against her feminist principles of encouraging women to live independently and follow their dreams. To ask for forgiveness, Leslie makes Ann a drawing of her reproductive system because, to quote, “What’s more cuterus than your uterus?”
(Another highlight: April’s comment, “As Eleanor Roosevelt once said to Betty Ford, ‘Hilary Clinton is great!’”)
4. “Leslie and Ben”
This episode documents the adorable wedding of Leslie and Ben. The highlight of this episode (besides the wedding vows “I love you and I like you”) is undoubtedly when Ben winks at the camera and tells Leslie, “I really want you to take my last name… It’s really important to me symbolically that Leslie Knope disappears and becomes Leslie Wyatt. Or councilwoman Mrs. Ben Wyatt. That’s fine too. It’s a deal breaker.” Leslie’s reaction is priceless – and Ben is, of course, joking.
5. “Women in Garbage”
In my favorite episode of the series thus far, Leslie takes on gender inequality in the trash department. When a man on the committee argues, “I believe one problem with hiring women is that they’re frail and breakable,” Leslie responds, “Are you sure you’re not talking about a light bulb? Or your hip?” To prove her point, Leslie and April take on trash duty, and an old industrial fridge they have to load into the garbage truck becomes a metaphor for an obstacle in the feminist fight for equality. Both Leslie and April are at their best in this episode, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen feminism this funny.