The circus that has been the 2016 presidential election seems like it’s something that could only happen in a fictional world. Somehow it’s happening in the real one – but that doesn’t mean there aren’t some fake campaigns with eerie similarities. Case in point: “Parks and Recreation.” For those who haven’t had the pleasure of watching NBC’s recently ended comedy, Amy Poehler plays Leslie Knope, a government employee in the small town of Pawnee, Indiana, with lofty political goals and a crush on Vice President Joe Biden. Her run for a seat on Pawnee’s City Council took up most of the show’s fourth season – which started while the 2012 race to the White House was entering the home stretch.
But this election, four years later, is the one that seems to have more in common with the fictional Knope 2012 campaign. Here are three parallels between a TV election that didn’t really happen and the current election that we’re in the midst of:
Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are not perfect matches for their counterparts in this scenario, but their origins are. On the show, Leslie and her opponent Bobby Newport (Paul Rudd) are complete opposites: Leslie has experience in government, even if it’s only as a director in the department that runs Pawnee’s parks, while Bobby does not. He comes from the big corporation that employs many people in the town and he’s running for City Council because, well, why not? Both of them have their flaws. Both have passionate supporters. The poll results are close right up until the end. Sound familiar?
Speaking of passionate voters, Pawnee, Indiana, has quite a few. Bobby and Leslie had allies and enemies alike during the campaign for City Council. They made sure that their voices were heard, whether the voters chose to go to a rally to support the candidate they liked or to the campaign bowling night to get in a fight with the one they didn’t. And we can’t leave out the supporters of the lesser-known candidates either, “Parks and Recreation” made sure to give them their time to shine as well. It’s the same in our current election: everyone wants to be heard, everyone has an opinion and everyone believes that they are right.
Debate season in our 2016 election is just getting started. But there have been debates within the political parties, and “Parks and Recreation” did a pretty good job displaying what they were like before the 2016 debates even happened: a lot of candidates, a lot of ideas and a lot of voters who don’t know who to cast their ballot for. Each candidate has taken shots at each other in speeches, in the media and directly. The Pawnee City Council debate featured one-liners that would have trended on Twitter, had they been real, which has happened countless times in this election already. The “Parks and Recreation” debate turned the tables for Leslie and gave her the support from voters that she had been looking for. We still have to wait to find out which of our candidates this will happen to in 2016; but hey, if it happened on this show, it will probably happen in real life.
… Or at least that’s what these parallels are pointing to.