As soon as Donald Trump announced his candidacy, the 2016 election took an absurd turn. I mean, no offense, but real estate mogul, reality TV star, and the man who waged a campaign questioning President Obama's citizenship running for president? Come on, right? But apparently, that's the kind of world we live in. If it all feels a little surreal, that's because it is. This all can't be real. And actually it's not, because there have been a few times when the 2016 election was actually Parks and Recreation. OK, not perfectly. But there are some tropes and jokes in the beloved sitcom that have actually come true in real life this year.
It's either funny or sad. Maybe it's funny-sad. Parks and Recreation may have seemed slapstick on the surface, but at its core it was a perfect satire of modern day politics. The bureaucracy, the one do-gooder among a bunch of slackers who really don't care about what they're doing, the fact that the entire premise is Pawnee is an underdog town that has simply just been abandoned by the state and federal government but still chugs along, ignoring big problems for small ones that most people actually care more about anyway.
Here are some of the moments when Parks and Recreation was essentially just the 2016 election in TV series form:
All The Times Donald Trump Was Bobby Newport
Bobby Newport comes a wealthy family and said in a campaign ad once that, once he got into office, he would pretty much "figure it out." There are too many perfect Newport moments that are just like Trump — namely all the times he sort of didn't know what he was talking about, or when he got his feelings hurt in the debates. Newport eventually loses to Leslie, but is OK with it, since the campaign was so hard! Much like Trump in recent weeks, he seemed to not really care anymore about winning. Because he has so many great things to do. So many.
Whenever Leslie Was Bernie Sanders/Hillary Clinton
Leslie may be the fictionalized version of Hillary Clinton, but her bleeding heart and big ideas remind me more of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders who wanted to do a lot of big sweeping things — much like Leslie's platforms on free parking everywhere or making refusing hugs illegal. Come on, Bernie, you can still implement mandatory hug policies and revolutionary climate change initiatives from the outside, I trust you.
Whenever Everyone Decided Yelling Ridiculously Off-Topic Things Helped Anything
Some of the best moments on Parks were when citizens spoke up. Every town hall got out of control, with people yelling at each other and making ridiculous demands. Remember the one where a man starts trying to get a chant going about a 5-year-old girl being an idiot? The 2016 election may not be as hysterically random, but there have been plenty of occasions that would make any sensible voter roll their eyes and say "WTF." (Two words: Trump rally.)
Any Occasion When Eagleton Was Present
When Eagleton goes broke, they have to merge to Pawnee because they made stupid extravagant decisions. (Like a "bankruptcy brunch" or purchasing HBO for the entire town... nice). Anyone remember Trump passing steaks and bubbly at a rally — while running on the fact that the economy and America in general were totally failing? Oh, the irony.
When Hillary—I Mean, "Leslie" Was Too "Aggressive"
Hillary Clinton and Leslie Knope have experienced one very similar theme in their lives — men don't like them because they're not (or weren't) what they think a "candidate's wife should be." Remember the notorious pie incident? How Leslie had to bake a damn pie to prove to people that she was a loving, feminine wife? Clinton too has an image problem because people see her a hawk and saw her as riding her husband's coattails while she was first lady — she talked "too loudly" (and more recently, "shouted"), and she just generally isn't all warm and cuddly — like women should be. Get it together, girls, god. (Sarcasm.)
Every Time Leslie Dealt With Blatant Sexism Like A Boss
A man in the crowd at one of Ben's rallies once asked Leslie, "What about men's rights?" Yes. What about men's rights? The injustice is rampant!!! How dare Clinton—I mean Leslie—care about women's lives or topics that affect them and their children? Why doesn't she just go back to being Lady Macbeth? Ugh.
That Time... No, All The Times Leslie's Colleagues & Rivals Ideas About Women Were Weird AF
Donald Trump once said that women will vote for him because they're mad their husbands aren't making enough money to support their girly lifestyles. (Yes, really.) Likewise: Remember that time the old head of the Parks Department told Leslie that women's brains don't work because they need to keep their "baby centers" functioning. Yeah. Both of those things happened.
Every Awkward Rally Moment Ever
Remember when Leslie was announcing her candidacy at the ice rink, and it was a total disaster because the red carpet was too long, and everything was just a super fail? Donald Trump's had a few of those, too — like when he glided down an escalator to announce his 2016 campaign run last June. An escalator.
When Joe Biden Made Everything Better
At the Democratic National Convention, Biden calling Trump's policies "malarky." And we all know how he smooth-talked Leslie—I mean "smoothed things over for Leslie." Yeah. That second one.
When Paul Ryan Was Like, "LOL, Nope"
When the Republican Party wasn't sure about Donald Trump, they floated the idea of nominating Speaker of the House Paul Ryan to unite the party and run. But Ryan wasn't even tempted. I mean, he just blatantly said he didn't want the job and was just fine where he was, and flipped them all the bird (I may have made up that last part). Ryan must have learned that from Ron Swanson who in the early days was happy to do absolutely nothing for the local government and not change a darn thing. (Just like Congress!)
Yes, Parks and Recreation is all about the absurdity of politics. Of course, it all felt a little more comforting when it wasn't so real.