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Feminism, Gender, and Politics in NBC’s «Parks and Recreation»

Erika Engstrom

Widely hailed as one of the best feminist-oriented series on television, NBC’s Parks and Recreation (2009–2015) presents a multifaceted text for examining the incorporation of feminist ideology into its storylines. This book analyzes the various ways the series presented feminism as a positive force, such as the satirical portrayal of patriarchy; alternative depictions of masculinity; the feminist ideology and political career of main character Leslie Knope; the inclusion of actual political figures; and depictions of love and romance as related to feminist thinking. A much-needed treatment that adds to the literature on feminism in media and popular culture, this book serves as an ideal resource for instructors and scholars of gender and mass media, women’s studies, and media criticism by investigating Parks and Recreation’s place in the continuum of other feminist-leaning television programs.

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Team. This book is a labor of love by not only the author, but all those who helped her. I thank all those who brought the town of Pawnee to life and for providing viewers and those viewers who study and write about TV so many laughs, tears, and wonderful stuff to talk about with our students and fellow scholars. I thank those who provided me with their own research on Parks and Recreation: Isaac Mayeux, Rich Collins, and Joseph Sanders. I thank my colleague and fellow Parks fan Sara VanderHaagen for always listening. My department chair, David Henry, and my dean, Rob Ulmer, granted me the time I needed to finish this book. I thank the reviewers of both the proposal and the manuscript for their invaluable suggestions. I also need to thank some feminist rock stars who have fostered my career over these many years: Felicia Campbell and Sheila Gibbons. To my soul sister, Mary-Lou Galician: Arigato gozaimashita for your cheerleading. As always, Mary Savigar was there to usher this project along. Lastly, I have to acknowledge the constant love, support, and friendship of my own Ben Wyatt/Ron Swanson: my fiercely feminist partner, Ted Greenhalgh, Ph.D. ← vii | viii →

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