Lady of the Month: Leslie Knope

Ladies and television are my two great loves so here on g+tv, I wanted to start a little tradition. I’m hoping to keep up with it each month but I might get impatient and post more than once a month. We’ll see. Anyway, I want to do a little showcase on one of the many amazing female characters who grace our televisions. I’d like to take the time and analyze why they are so wonderful and why we are blessed to have them. Some will be more in depth and some will be pretty cut and dry, but there are lots of ladies who deserve our attention so let’s give it to them!

I love parks. I don't know if that's something I've communicated before.

Leslie Knope

When talking about wonderful ladies on television how can you not start with Leslie?

We first meet Leslie Knope in season one and she is a laughably optimistic but dopey character, much like a Michael Scott. We are meant to laugh at her hopes because they are seemingly unattainable and she seems to be blind to the reality of working in government. As the seasons have progressed, even starting in the middle of season one, Leslie has become more of an optimistic realist. She unabashedly loves her job, but she knows that accomplishing her projects will take perseverance and hard work, even if she can be a bit naive at times.

In fact, her love for her work is refreshing. I can hardly think of any other character, male or female, who loves their job as much as Leslie. She loves her town and she loves making it better for the crazy people in it even if she goes under-appreciated. Her professional life hasn’t been without scandal — From marrying gay penguins to being accused of having an affair with a a councilman. Still, even her political missteps are well-meaning and she comes out on top because she is always sincere. Her true love has always been Pawnee and providing the people with what they need and beyond.

The people who work with her know that she is generous and trying to make life better for Pawnee and not for personal gain. When the police chief asks why he give Leslie as many favors as she needs he replies “because she’s the kind of person who uses favors to help other people” and that is exactly what she does. Each person in her department respects her for the work that she does, even Ron Swanson, whose personal political philosophy is the polar opposite of Leslie’s. That respect has even blossomed into a friendship. Both Ron and Leslie have each other’s back whether it be professionally or personally.

In that vein, Leslie is a wonderful friend to everyone, especially Ann. The two ladies, arguably, have the best female friendship on television right now. They support and seek the best for each other even if it is not always to easy thing to do. Even after two sleepless nights, Leslie visits Ann to comfort her after a breakup. She pushes Ann towards a new career path, even though she is met with much resistance at first. In addition, Leslie has provided support for her fellow officemates, including but not limited to April, Andy, and Tom and they all support her in return.

Although currently single, Leslie hasn’t had an entirely fruitless love life. Though Leslie’s misadventures in love are often been played for laughs (“Skywriting isn’t always positive.”), it has never been implied that she is unlovable in anyway. Over the course of four seasons, she’s been involved in three serious relationships. Of those three relationships, none ended on bad terms. With the exception of Justin, the relationships ended only because of bad timing. Moreover, Leslie gave up her relationship with Ben to pursue her lifelong dream of running for office.

It’s easy to consider Leslie a feminist figure. While she is not the perfect feminist, she makes up for her indiscretions with candor. When asked about her life plan she lays out all of her political goals forgetting about marriage or kids. She supports the women in her life and in her town wanting to see young girls succeed and be appreciated for their intelligence and creativity, not just their physical appearance.

Leslie has many traits that round her out as a character. She is given flaws to make her human. She is a Harry Potter fan with a sweet tooth and a love for ladies in politics. She is caring, hard-working, optimistic, stubborn and naive at times. She holds strong relationships with women and men and succeeds romantically, as well. Her goals and point of view are clear; she makes her own decisions and is therefore in control of her own narrative. Subjectively, she embodies a perfect female character.

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NBC Cancels NBC

G3! E4! C4!On Tuesday, NBC announced the cancellation of  The Playboy Club. Yesterday they announced that the Wednesday night comedy Free Agents would be joining the period drama. The shows had aired three and four episodes, respectively, at the time of cancellation. It begs the question: What the fuck is NBC doing?

Several years back, NBC had a lineup they called “Must See TV”. This Thursday night block included television legends such as Friends, Seinfeld, even Cheers, once upon a time. Traditionally it was a two hour block of four half hour comedies followed by a drama such as ER. For about two decades it dominated, containing some of the season’s most watch shows (ER and Seinfeld both ranked as the #1 most watch program multiple times).

Along the way things got muddy. Seinfeld ended in 1998 and Friends in 2004. American Idol happened and soon followed a high demand for reality television. And NBC replaced one hour of comedy with The Apprentice.

Since then the network has been struggling to find ratings. In 2010, of the 20 most watched shows NBC only placed twice (#2 Sunday Night Football, #10 America’s Got Talent).

However, other networks have found success in multi-cam sitcoms and procedural dramas yet NBC hasn’t resorted to them completely. While still offering shows like Law & Order: SVU and the new Whitney, most of NBC’s lineup are shows that are uniquely NBC. Shows like Parks and Recreation, Community, even Chuck could not exist on other networks. Other networks may have numbers, but NBC shows have substance. They are quirky but they are good and the critics love them. They may have a smaller audience, but it is an extremely passionate one.

The person who watches NCIS probably catch the episode when they can. Tuesdays come, they turn on the TV, the episode, and then move on. The chances that they go back to rewatch the procedural or own the DVD boxed set are minimal. It’s not that kind of show. There’s a mystery and most likely by the end of the episode it’s solved. Sometimes there are overarcing story lines but not often. It’s a show about happenings, about immediate gratification. Viewers probably don’t hang posters of Mark Harmon on their wall. What’s the point of rewatching a mystery that you have already solved?

Now, the people who watch Parks and Recreation or Community are a whole different breed. They are fans. They are consumers. More than likely they own all the current available DVDs and possibly more merchandise like t-shirts, mugs, shot glasses, etc. They care deeply about the characters, where they are going and how their relationships evolve. They are going to care about them even after the show ends. The will wear out their DVDs.

This is something that NBC has over mostly all other networks (with the major exception obviously being Glee, a merchandising kingpin). Garnering fans is, or should be, the business NBC is in. And guess what? it takes more than three episodes for someone to become a fan. Seinfeld didn’t gain a large viewership until its fifth season and Cheers didn’t until its fourth. Word of mouth is a huge marketing strategy, which frankly, NBC could use. (Its marketing department is terrible. I didn’t hear about Free Agents until the night it aired and only because I had been planning on turning in for Up All Night, a show that I had been following because of the stars, yet, every commercial break has at least one Whitney related spot. And that’s only considering its new shows.) With most of my most watched shows, I didn’t start until at least the second season because people who I trust told me it was awesome — something that was just starting to happen for both The Playboy Club and Free Agents.

I understand that making TV is really about making money. I know that it is a business. But maybe NBC should try a new strategy. They are not going to beat CBS or FOX by the numbers straight out of the gate. It’s has to be a slower build. If they let quality shows hang around longer, it could snowball into the hit NBC is seeking.

Or maybe they should just hire a new fucking marketing team.

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BerryCap 3.03 “Asian F”: The Rachel Berry Show

I’ve decided that each week I’m going to try to do a recap of Glee, but only focus on the story that pertains to Rachel. Let’s see if I can keep it up.

Diva Off!

Last night’s Glee, entitled “Asian F” was touted as “Glee’s best episode ever” all week by various media sources. Except for Mike Chang’s sweet storyline about following his dreams into the musical and a bit of back-story for Emma, I cannot see how they came to this conclusion. (Spoilers to follow.) Continue reading

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My Dirty Little British Secret

The Cast of Made in ChelseaIt’s no surprise to anyone who knows me that I am a huge fan of British television. Doctor Who, Skins, Miranda, they’re all wonderful and offer something uniquely different from American TV (which I also love, don’t get me wrong. If American TV was a person I would probably marry it as long as she let me have an open relationship with British TV… and possibly Canadian TV but that’s another post).

What I haven’t expressed public is my love for a British reality show called Made in Chelsea. If you’re from the States you’ve probably never heard of it. MiC follows around a group of extremely fabulous wealthy young people as they go about their lives in London’s most high end borough.

Essentially it’s Britain’s answer to Laguna Beach, The Hills, The City, etc. It’s filmed like a drama: no talking heads, no narration, just pure dialogue and action. I’m sure, like its American cousins, it’s partially scripted, but really who cares about that.

Wikipedia tells me that most of the cast does indeed hold down jobs, but don’t worry, you won’t be bored by that. Instead see the MiC cast go to polo matches and regattas, lunching in the middle of the day at fabulous cafés and drinking every night at the hottest bars of the moment. They’re always going to some party for someone’s birthday or business launch or whatever and I should hate them for doing things everyday that I’d have to save up for months just to do once, but I don’t. They are just so charming.

Of course these lunches and parties aren’t without their drama. Who’s cheating on who, who’s coming out, who ‘s spreading gossip about this other one. And I relish it all. You make look down on me for it, and I wouldn’t blame you. But I’m going to keep on watching, wondering if Spencer and Caggie (actual names!) will ever get together, and you can worry about if you actually saw Nancy Grace’s nipple last Monday.

Made in Chelsea airs on E4, Monday night at 10. It is currently in its second season.

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The Real Suburgatory

Jane Levy as Tessa AltmanLast night, the pilot of ABC’s new Suburgatory opened to both strong numbers and critics. And with good reason; the sitcom performs a perfect balancing act between cynical and heartfelt letting the viewers simultaneously mock and appreciate suburban life.

In case you missed it, Suburgatory follows the move of teenage Tessa Altman (Jane Levy) and her father, George (Jeremy Sisto), to Chatswin, NY from Manhattan. George wants to give Tessa a better life; Tessa doesn’t quite see it that way. Instead she finds herself facing ‘Stepford’-like moms and girls who receive rhinoplasties for their sweet sixteen. Eventually, Tessa starts to see that suburbia does indeed have a heart albeit under a ‘synthetic chest’. Throughout the season, I expect we’ll find Tessa continue to battle against the suburbanites while never really giving up her city girl charm and it’ll be interesting to see how much she lets them into her heart. Continue reading

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Baby Shows

It’s been about a week since television has returned (thank you, Jesus) and I’ve watch near all of the freshman shows that have aired so far. While some seem promising most of them have been duds. But I guess that’s pilots for you and most shows don’t find their footing until near midseason (or later) — that is if they last until then.

Here’s the highlights.

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