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Leslie Knope Came Back to Help Us Cope Just When We Needed It


The Cast of Park and Recreation from a Parks And Recreation Special

**Spoilers for A Parks and Recreation Special lie ahead.**

Parks and Recreation went off the air in February of 2015. It was a dark five years, and sitting in a world without the political optimism of Leslie Knope has clearly not been the ideal situation as events have unfolded. Think about it. Parks ended, Donald Trump got elected, the world caught on fire, and now a pandemic broke out, and our leadership is … not leading.

Much like Bobby Newport says at the beginning of the special, the world needs Leslie Knope to help us all cope with the “coronus.” Truly, Paul Rudd owning a Knope 2012 sweatshirt and sitting in his backyard pretending to be in Switzerland is high up on my list of new favorite television moments.

The episode was simple. A phone tree was created for our favorite characters from Pawnee to check in on each other throughout the pandemic. The problem is that Ron Swanson hates technology, April Ludgate took it as a joke, Andy was trapped in a shed, and Ben Wyatt most definitely has reached the day-460 mindset of quarantine.

Going through each character meant reliving why they all mean so much to us. Ann Perkins is the perfect noble land-mermaid who is dedicating her time and knowledge as a nurse to help with outpatient care, while Chris Traeger was asked by the CDC to donate blood four times a week because he’s a super healer—all checks out. Even Ron Swanson being trapped in his cabin and working on his craftsmanship is something that just fits so well with his character.

“Isn’t it weird that time has no meaning anymore?” Tom Haverford said, and honestly, truth. But like, there were so many moments throughout this special that just hit me in the heart and sat there heavily, because I realized how much I missed and needed these characters in my life.

Sure, Andy Dwyer locking himself in a shed from the inside for two days is hilariously poignant, but it really hit home that the citizens of Pawnee mean the world to us when Ron Swanson looked out for Leslie Knope in ways she wouldn’t do herself.

Don’t worry, though. It isn’t all about the emotional attachment to our favorites. We also got a look at some of the more … colorful citizens of Pawnee, like Dennis Feinstein and Jean-Ralphio Saperstein.

(Jean-Ralphio was also banned from Cameo for doing them naked because … well … it’s Jean-Ralphio.)

So much of this episode was about our mental health and making sure we’re taking care of ourselves, and watching as Leslie tried to make sure the world was okay while not taking care of herself was a message a lot of us could use right now. Ron reminded her that she can’t dedicate her entire life and time to everyone else—that she has to take care of herself, as well: “Leslie, don’t spend all your time looking after other people. Look after yourself every once in a while.” (And giving her that reminder with a group performance of “5,000 Candles in the Wind” was a nice treat.)

Leslie Knope dedicating her time to taking care of everyone else was so perfect and so in line with the show and the character that it just drove home the fact that we should always try to help in whatever ways we can, but also … make sure you’re looking out for your own well-being too.

And just remember, the virus cannot be karate chopped.

(image: NBC)

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Rachel (she/her) is an I, Tonya stan who used to have a poster of Frank Sinatra on her wall as a kid. She loves superheroes, weird musicals, wants Robert Downey Jr. to release a new album, and would sell her soul for Pedro Pascal as Kraven the Hunter. She is Leslie Knope and she's okay with that. Secretly Grogu's mom and Lizzie Olsen's best friend.