The Trump administration has tried to take a lot from us over the last 100+ days: health care, basic rights for already marginalized groups, national security, general hope about pretty much everything. And now, the bastards have come for our entertainment. Specifically, our Parks and Recreation.
Now, Trump has tried to claim our Parks and Rec before, what with debate-era Trump being the living embodiment of Bobby Newport, minus any modicum of Paul Rudd’s charm or goodness. But I recently had a realization even worse than these alternate-reality Trump/Newport similarities, and I love you all, but if I have to live with this harrowing thought, I’m not gonna go through this alone.
Because Parks and Recreation, one of the greatest, smartest, most heartwarming television shows of the last … ever, is disturbing as hell when you realize who was the governor of Indiana — the state Leslie Knope and the rest of Pawnee’s officials served-at the time of the show.
Yup, it was Mike Pence.
I’ll give you a moment.
Given the real-world politicians we’ve seen in episodes of the show (John McCain, Joe Biden, Michelle Obama, etc), we have to assume that the world of Pawnee exists in our reality, as we live it now. And if Michelle Obama and Joe Biden were in the White House while Leslie served Pawnee’s Parks Department/City Council, then that means her state of Indiana was being run by real-life governor Pence.
Whatever great things Leslie was doing in Pawnee, there was a hateful bigot right behind her.
(We know. We don’t care.)
In February of 2011, when Leslie was putting together Pawnee’s time capsule and working on the Harvest Festival, Mike Pence wasn’t yet Governor, but he was in Indiana’s House of Representatives, writing and debating his first attack blocks on Title X funding to Planned Parenthood and other women’s health care providers.
In October of that year, while Leslie was fostering the blossoming minds of the Pawnee Goddesses, Pence was co-sponsoring bills meant to keep women from buying health insurance plans that cover abortion under the Affordable Care Act, as well as make it legal for hospitals to deny abortions to women with life-threatening circumstances.
When Pence was elected Governor of Indiana in November of 2012, Leslie was presenting her Unity Quilt to her soon-to-be-in-laws. When he took office the following January, Leslie was just trying to have a bachelorette party.
The last season of the show jumps ahead to 2017. That’s the title of the season’s premiere episode. “2017.” As in, “2017 Is a Giant Asshole.” If only she could have known.
I suppose we can imagine that Parks and Rec always existed in the alternate, brighter timeline where Clinton paved the way for Leslie’s future presidency.
Though, even if we’re imagining these two worlds are one, the upside, I suppose, is that we only have a few more years (just under eight, but who’s counting?) until the Wyatt-Knopes take over the Governor’s office, and soon after, the White House. So at the very least, the Pawnee Prophecy has things looking up.
Still, sorry for possibly tainting one of the greatest, sweetest shows ever to be on television.