Leslie Knope, and the rest of the characters on the show, are good people who despite their various privileges try their best not to hurt people, except for Jerry. They try, for the most part, to treat people with respect and care, except for Jerry. They make mistakes and need to apologize sometimes, even to Jerry. It’s a show I can watch where people won’t make lots of jokes about rape, or make a lot of jokes at the expense of people with disabilities, or make a lot of uncritical jokes about race. Parks and Recreation is, in short, something of a safe space for me.
But despite this honest faith effort to not hurt people with their comedy, the writers, producers, and performers still have some major ongoing issues that I begin to notice after the nth time rewatching the amazing second season on Netflix. Stalking is a humorous plotline, a sign of affection rather than a threat. Heterosexuality is a norm that goes mostly unchallenged. Fatness is depicted as unhealthy and gross. Cissexism and essentialism are present as punchlines. Knope frequently trumpets her feminism through slut-shaming, and the show presents this uncritically. These are just the major threads that I’ve been able to articulate; there are also issues with racism, sexism, and other branches of the kyriarchy.
Introduction to a bunch of stuff on this show. Watch out!