Tag Archives: leslie knope

Best of 2015: Characters

Now that I’ve discussed the shows I didn’t get to see, it’s time to start talking about all the things I’ve loved about television this year. I watch TV for the emotional engagement more than any other element of a show and that’s what this list and the other four I will be releasing represent. They represent the characters, relationships, moments, episodes, and shows I have been drawn to the most over the course of this year. Each list has gone through several iterations until I landed on one that felt the most right and authentic to my engagement over the year and I would like to think that in years to come, I will be able to look back on this list and see who I was in 2015 and how that related to the media I connected with. That, even more than recommending new shows to people, is why I enjoy these lists. They are a record for me of what I loved and how I loved them, as I believe they are for everyone else who makes similar lists.

There were a lot of characters that caught my attention this year. Some for their personality, some for the struggles they went though, and some for what they represent and their importance to the larger pop culture landscape. These are the ten that resonated with me the most.

Mariana Foster (The Fosters) This year, Mariana coded a routine for her dance team’s competition and lost her virginity to her sister’s ex-boyfriend. She did amazing things and she made huge mistakes. While that level of complexity from a teenage girl (who isn’t even the main character on her show) shouldn’t be remarkable, it still is in today’s TV environment. She has wholeheartedly embraced the power of “and” by refusing to fit into a convenient mold. She loves both dance and STEM, looking pretty and being valued for her intelligence. She wants it all because she’s been taught she can be both and she will challenge anyone who thinks otherwise. And that is a remarkable thing in any character, let alone one who is only 15. But despite that, she’s not perfect. She’s not immune from society’s messaging. She slept with Wyatt because she was hurt and because she felt like everyone else was having sex so she should be able to as well. She messed up and did something she regretted and caused herself and people around her pain but it never made her less of character. There were consequences but she wasn’t demonized for her choice even though she knew it was the wrong one.

Ilana Wexler (Broad City) This was a fabulous year for messy, flawed women in comedy and Ilana Wexler is their queen. As Lindsay Jillian (You’re the Worst) would say, Ilana “wears her stains on the outside” except Ilana doesn’t even think of them as stains, just another aspect of herself that makes her fabulous. She’s self-absorbed and a terrible employee and is kind of awful to most people she interacts with but you still can’t help admiring her confidence in herself. Ilana has no front, she is exactly who she is at all times. She is entirely controlled by her impulses and makes messes that Abbi ends up cleaning up, but at the end of the day, Abbi doesn’t care because she knows Ilana would do anything for her. Ilana loves Abbi so entirely and it grounds her character. She’s always going to be someone most of us envy at least a little for her ability to do whatever she wants with seemingly few severe consequences but it’s in her love for Abbi that she becomes a full person and not just a chaotic, impulse-driven plot device.

Clarke Griffin (The 100) If anyone needs a hug on TV right now, it’s Clarke. She went through more in 7 episodes than many characters do in an entire season. She has been in so many situations where there is no clear answer and she’s done her best to make the right choice but the weight, pressure, and consequences of those choices have been their toll. Clarke is a good leader because of her love for her people. It’s what drives her to keep them safe and risk everything to get them back. But she knows that alone won’t save them. She needs to be smart and strategic as well. She needs to be pragmatic. She believes herself to be a good person (and I think she’s right about that) but when that belief, her love for her people and her strategy and pragmatism come into competition, how is anyone supposed to hold on to who they are? Especially in the face of a strong leader who is telling her that the love that partly defines her is weakness. The choices she has made have been strategic and worked toward her goal of rescuing her people. But they weren’t without a heavy cost. She was responsible for a lot of pain and death this year and now that the battles have been won, she must learn to face herself and the person she’s become.

Vanessa Ives (Penny Dreadful) Where season one Vanessa was haunted and more reserved, season two gave us a new side to Vanessa. She’s still haunted, as one could expect of someone being courted by the devil, but she’s no longer alone. She has gathered a group of people around her who care for her and wish to protect her, not out of obligation or to use her for their own ends, but because of who she is. Her rift with Malcolm repaired, her friendships with Ethan and Victor strengthened, and the loyalty of Sembene affirmed, Vanessa is free to experience moments of happiness and something akin to peace. And in those moments, we see the kind soul she possesses underneath the evil power she is capable of wielding. Vanessa can be both the person who saw and loved the poet in a monster and the person who essentially told the devil to go to hell in his own language. She longs for a normal life but knows that as long as she still suffers, it’s not a life she can allow herself to have. She longs for a lasting peace, one in which her thoughts, dreams, and prayers are safe. And as we see her goodness and the care she shows to those who are otherwise outsiders (not a pleasant place to be in Victorian England), we want her to find that peace. We want the struggle to be over so she can live the life in her dream. She couldn’t grasp that vision this season, but you can bet I’ll be tuned into the next one to see her continue to battle her demons.

Continue reading Best of 2015: Characters

I Feel Strongly: My Top 10 Parks and Recreation Episodes

By the time this posts, I will be on my way to visit Katie! She was the person to introduce me to the show and I quickly fell in love with it. So today, in honor of my Leslie, I want to take the opportunity to talk about my favorite episodes of Parks and Recreation.

Freddy Spaghetti (2×24) This is the episode that Ron makes it clear that there is no possible world in which the Parks department will run without Leslie. When Chris wants to reassign her, Ron stops him saying that no one else is losing a Leslie because no one else had her to begin with. It’s a beautiful example of the affection Ron has for Leslie, despite their differing philosophies on government work. It is also one of many episodes where Leslie pulls off something wonderful for the town even when everything is working against her. And for the first time, Ben gets to see her passion in action. He’s still largely the slightly cranky guy that wants to shut down Pawnee at this point, but we get glimpses that he could be so much more as a character.

Flu Season (3×02) Welcome to the episode that Ben Wyatt fell for Leslie Knope and it was beautiful. Nothing, not even a terrible case of the flu and extra flu medication, could stop Leslie Knope from saving her beloved Parks department. She pulled off her presentation perfectly because that’s what she needed to do and in that moment, Ben fell in love with her drive and passion. His face during his post-speech talking-head segment said it all. He was amazed at what this woman was capable of and he wanted to know her more. So he brought her waffles and homemade chicken soup (which was of course ignored in favor of the waffles) when he told her that she got all the sponsors she needed and acting like an adorable dork who didn’t entirely know what to say to her. On top of the greatness that is Leslie and Ben, this is also a hilarious episode. Leslie on flu medications is fantastic, Andy’s talk with April at her bedside is hilarious, and while not one of my favorite lines, Chris’s “Stop pooping” line has become a classic.

Soulmates (3×10) This is the first appearance of Leslie and Ben being adorable in front of the mural and also the episode that makes it very clear these two are made for each other. As we learn early in the episode, the wildflower mural is a place that’s very special to Leslie. So when Ben suggests meeting in front of that same mural to eat their hamburgers together, everything is perfect. This episode also features a classic Chris vs. Ron showdown, which is always fun to watch.

Continue reading I Feel Strongly: My Top 10 Parks and Recreation Episodes

Episode of the Week: January 5th – January 11th

This week in television, Emily told the truth about her identity on Revenge, The Good Wife gave us a remarkably catchy song (complete with a cast video), Castle made everyone cry, Teen Wolf returned with nightmares for Scott, Stiles, and Allison, Holt had small dogs to give away on Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Nick reminded us all to do what we love on New Girl, Bert adopted lobsters and gave them capes on Trophy Wife, Danny motivated Mindy to work out by having her imagine that she was saving celebrities on The Mindy Project, Casey returned to Firehouse 51 on Chicago Fire, Parks and Recreation celebrated their 100th episode, Community took on the serial killer genre, Marcus Bell and Sherlock made amends on Elementary, Joel and Julia made everything hurt on Parenthood, Hodgins reminded us all of his perfection on Bones, and The Carries Diaries tackled the threat of AIDS in the 80s. It also brought show premieres for Intelligence, Killer Woman, Chicago PD, and Enlisted.

This was a harder decision than I anticipated it being. This week’s episode of Castle made me sob harder than anything has since the season 4 finale of Parenthood. Seamus and Juliana Dever were so fanastically heartbreaking even though I knew Ryan and Esposito would survive. It was a wonderful reminder of how emotionally attached I am to these characters and how rewarding Castle makes those attachments.

However, this was the 100th episode of Parks and Recreation and it was a wonderful way to celebrate the show’s past and future. The theme of this episode was “dream bigger” and that’s exactly what this show makes me do. It’s a show about hope and excitement and passion and that’s why I love it.

Watching Leslie lose the recall election was hard. Watching her be so desperate for the approval of a town who rejected her was even harder. It was completely in character because City Council has been her ambition for the past season and a half but like everyone else on the show, I didn’t think it was the right move. Of course, in his role as wonderful husband, Ben got Leslie the best gift he could have possibly gotten her. He got someone to remind her that her dreams didn’t end with the City Council. And a trip to Paris, which was also very nice.

Leslie’s journey in this episode was paralleled by Tom. Since the start of the show, Tom has wanted something more than the Parks department in Pawnee. After his failed business ventures and the buy-out of Rent-a-Swag, he was looking for direction. The Shark Tank scene was fantastic and of course Jerry had a good idea that he then broke. Even though that idea failed, I love that he came up with something that fit his personality so well and that he’s excited about doing.

I loved all the townspeople we got to see in this episode from Perd Hapley to Jean-Ralphio. Pawnee has so many memorable citizens and I enjoy seeing them from time to time.

On a similar note, it was very nice to have Andy back! I loved April’s attempts to wake him up and it’s just nice to see him back with the rest of the characters.

My only complaint is that Ann and Chris have been so isolated in the past few episodes. I wouldn’t mind if they weren’t leaving, but I need more Leslie and Ann scenes. I would have liked to see Ann talking to Leslie about why running for City Council again might not be the best idea or Leslie sharing Ann’s excitement about her baby boy. I miss seeing their friendship.

Finale Review: Parks and Recreation

Episode Title: Are You Better Off?

Renewal Status: Not yet renewed, though will almost certainly be renewed for season six

Pre-finale Thoughts: It’s no secret that Parks and Recreation is my favorite show on television and very possibly my favorite show of all time. Therefore, it should come as no shock that I really loved this season. I loved the addition of Diane and her relationship with Ron, I loved the growth that April has shown throughout the season, I loved the way Tom has matured, and I really loved Leslie and Ben. This show just makes me feel good and happy.

This season has had some fantastic comedic moments. Leslie’s reaction to meeting Joe Biden, Ron, Chris, and Ben suffering from calzone-induced food poisoning, Ron eating a banana, and every single one of Adam Scott’s reaction faces have all been hilarious and moments I’ve definitely rewatched. This season has also had some of the most touching moments, the most notable examples of which were Ben’s proposal and Ben and Leslie’s wedding.

It did have a slight misstep with Ann’s sudden desire to have a baby. I’m still not sure where that came from and how we got from Ann wanting Chris to be a sperm donor to them raising a family together, but I do appreciate the plot for Ann.

Continue reading Finale Review: Parks and Recreation

Galentine’s Day: A Celebration of Female Characters

It’s Galentine’s Day! Sort of. It’s technically the 14th but I haven’t slept yet so I figure I can pretend it’s still the 13th for a while longer. In keeping with the spirit of this holiday, I wanted to celebrate a few awesome ladies on television.

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Leslie Knope (Parks and Recreation)

As the creator of Galentine’s Day, I figure she probably deserves to be mentioned first. Leslie is my fictional hero. She is passionate, determined, and caring. She believes in working to make your community a better place, celebrating the women in your life, having big dreams, and that friends (and waffles) should always be higher priorities than work.

Continue reading Galentine’s Day: A Celebration of Female Characters