Last week my favorite show “Parks and Recreation” came to a close. As I balled my eyes throughout the entire hour-long series finale, I was reminded that one of the main reasons why I loved the show was because its main character, Leslie Knope was a loud and proud feminist. I can’t think of another show on television that celebrates girl power and female friendships as well as Parks and Rec. Here’s my ranking of the show’s 10 best feminist moments, in chronological order.
1. Beauty Pageant (Season 2, Episode 3)
In one of the first tests of Leslie Knope’s unabashed feminism, she stood up against the stupidity of beauty pageants, much like her foremothers did at the 1969 Miss America Pageant. We all know Susan should have won, but frankly her brain was too smart to be weighed down by that stupid plastic crown.
2. I’m Just a Girl (Season 2, Episode 10 “Hunting Trip”)
In this episode, Leslie proved she was as tough as the boys by going on a hunting trip with Ron, Tom, Jerry/Garry and Mark (ps I’m so happy they wrote that jerk out of the show). Leslie shows herself to be an excellent hunter, which gets Ron extremely jealous. The two split up to see who can shoot the most quails, but their contest is cut short when Ron is shot in the head. All the guys blame Leslie for the accident (even though it was actually Tom), and the park ranger is convinced that her femininity caused the accident to occur. Leslie feeds into gender stereotypes with her hilarious “confession” to the ranger. Some of her best excuses are “I thought there was going to be chocolate!” and “I’m wearing a new bra and it closes in the front and it popped open and threw me off.”
3. Galentine’s Day (Season 2, Episode 16)
In this legendary episode, Leslie introduced to us the holiday that changed all our lives for the better. What’s Galentine’s Day? “Oh, it’s only the best day of the year. Every February 13th my lady friends and I leave our husbands and our boyfriends at home and we just come and kick it back breakfast style. Ladies celebrating ladies. It’s like Lilith Fair, minus the angst, plus frittatas.”
4. Leslie and Ann 4ever
Speaking of “ladies celebrating ladies,” Leslie and Ann are without a doubt the best female duo on television. With so many shows that find humor in plotting women against each other, Leslie and Ann prove that female friendships are both beautiful and hilarious. Leslie has the best one-liners to compliment her BFF, including “you beautiful, tropical fish” and “you beautiful, naive, sophisticated newborn baby.” There’s even a website dedicated to these mini love poems. Just refresh the page for a new one!
5. The Pawnee Goddesses (Season 4, Episode 4)
When Leslie finds out that girls aren’t allowed to join the Pawnee Rangers boy scout troop, she sets out to form one for girls called the Pawnee Goddesses, complete with puppy parties, puppet shows about the Bill of Rights set to “Party in the USA” and loosely-structured craft time to make Gertrude “steins.” But unlike the Rangers, the Goddesses don’t exclude on the basis of sex, and the boys leave the Rangers to join the Goddesses because in their words, the Goddesses are “freaking awesome.”
6. Leslie’s Wall of Inspirational Women (Season 5, Episode 3 “How A Bill Becomes Law”)
In this episode, it is Leslie’s first day as city councilwoman. She gives us a tour of her office, complete with a wall of inspirational women that includes pictures of Madeleine Albright, Nancy Pelosi and Leslie herself. Leslie realizes that if you can’t inspire yourself, you’re not going to make it very far. And she makes it very far indeed.
7. Sex Education (Season 5, Episode 4)
One of Leslie’s first tasks as city councilwoman is to educate the STD-ridden senior citizens of Pawnee on safe sex. Even though she is supposed to follow a very antiquated city law that forbids any sex-ed that does not have abstinence-only curriculum, Leslie teaches the seniors about contraception anyway, armed with a condom and banana.
8. Women in Garbage (Season 5, Episode 11)
As city councilwoman, Leslie feels it is her duty to fix the lack of women in city government. In a meeting with department representatives, Leslie points out that the sanitation department is the number one offender of gender inequality. The department representatives claim that there are no female garbage collectors because the job is too physically demanding for women. Leslie takes this as a challenge and spends a morning on the job with April.
9. Pie-Mary (Season 7, Episode 9)
In this episode, Leslie stood up against men’s rights activists who were trying to sabotage Ben’s candidacy for the U.S. House of Representatives. When a laughable group of mansplainers protest Ben’s decision to participate in the annual “Pie-Mary” bake-0ff among candidate’s wives instead of Leslie, Leslie stands up for Ben and herself. She literally says: “You’re ridiculous and men’s rights is nothing.” KNOPE 1, MANSPLAINERS 0.
10. THAT FINALE THO (Season 7, Episode 12)
In a beautiful and heartwarming finale, we see Leslie become mayor of Indiana, get a library named after her AND PROBABLY BECOME PRESIDENT TOO.
It’s been a wonderful seven years, Parks and Rec. Thank you for showing the world that feminism is the bomb. Now we petition for a movie, right? #RIPlilsebastian
It wasn’t hard for me to find a cat reference in Parks and Rec. In “Flouride” (Season 6, Episode 8) April is on a quest to find a dog that matches Donna’s personality. After a few unsuccessful tries, April realizes that Donna is actually a cat. #DUH