Station/time: NBC, Thursdays, 8:30 p.m.
Premiere date: Sept. 20, “Ms. Knope Goes to Washington”
Standout female characters: Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler), April Ludgate (Aubrey Plaza), Ann Perkins (Rashida Jones), and Donna Meagle (Retta)
Why feminist viewers should watch: You mean other than the fact that the show stars feminist comedy badass Amy Poehler? For starters, Leslie Knope (Poehler) is a self-proclaimed feminist who loves her life and work as a local government bureaucrat in Pawnee, Ind., in a way that’s almost infectious. Surrounding her desk are pictures of her female role models, and she regularly geeks out about her love of ladies in leadership. She’s also hugely supportive of the women in her life, often going to hilarious lengths to let them know how much she cares (“I embroidered a throw pillow with the a newspaper headline from the day you were born!”).
Leslie’s romantic relationship with Ben Wyatt (Adam Scott) is real and endearing – miles away from the unfortunate go-to media move of the powerful competent woman who needs to be loosened up or knocked down a peg by a good man. Watching a woman who so clearly rules be in a relationship that’s healthy, mutual, stable, and awesomely normal is like a breath of fresh air. The supporting female characters don’t disappoint either, proving to be multifaceted whole people whose interactions with each other ring true. They sometimes even talk about things other than the men in their lives! I know! And in case you’re still not convinced, the show’s story often focuses on issues of gender equality and does it all while supplying goofball shenanigans and steady laughs.
What to expect this season: When we last saw Leslie, she had just achieved her childhood dream of being elected to Pawnee’s city council while her boyfriend Ben was offered a job as a campaign director in Washington D.C. The new season opens with Leslie visiting Ben in D.C. and everyone adjusting to their new roles. Some find the transition easier than others, but the show’s ability to bring these oddball characters together and find surprising ways for them to thrive and flourish remains refreshing and fun as ever. This season I think we can expect Leslie Knope to exceed our already sky-high expectations of what she can accomplish and how much she can make us laugh in the process. And if there is any justice in this world, we’ll see more of Ron Swanson (Nick Offerman) running.