With the New Year quickly fading in the rearview, millions of people will soon find themselves slogging off resolutions of physical and mental betterment in favor of some binge television watching. But if you’re going to watch TV for 18 hours a day, you might as well watch something that will allow you to hold onto a bit of that optimism that surged through you on January 1st.
With her expectations set unreasonably high, Leslie Knope (of Parks & Recreation) best exemplifies the “go get ’em” attitude so many others in Pawnee, nay, the world, lack year round. Here are some quotes that show Leslie Knope has no idea why the words “cautious” and “optimism” would ever be caught near each other.
10. On Campaigning (Season 4, Episode 11)
It’s true. I no longer have highly trained, professional campaign managers. So what? Are most murders committed by highly trained, professional assassins? No, they’re committed by friends and coworkers!
A lot of people would be tempted to look at the general idea of murder and think, “There’s nothing good to reap from this.” But Leslie Knope isn’t a glass half full kind of person, she’s a glass overflowing with sensible analogies to murderous circumstances kind of person.
The general connection is a solid one: The biggest, most life-changing actions in our lives are rarely accomplished through a distant, hired professional. Rather, it’s the people closest to us that affect our lives in the grandest ways. And that’s a beautiful thing. (Unless that thing actually is murder, which is obviously not so good.)
9. On Being Hated (Season 1, Episode 1)
What I hear when I’m being yelled at is people caring loudly at me.
We’ve all been there: Someone is spitting venom in your face, veins bulging and eyes wide, telling you all of the things that are wrong with you. Or with the world. Or with their pet turtle. And while it would be easy to reciprocate with anger–and even easier to crawl into a ball and try to wish all the meanness away–that’s not the Knope way.
Every problem is a challenge, and anyone screaming about problems is really just engaged in the process of problem-solving. Sure, they may say it with a little more spit than one would like, but that just means they care too much to hold anything back. Particularly their bodily fluids.
8. On Living in Harmony (Season 3, Episode 14)
The raccoon problem is under control. They have their part of the town and we have ours.
Can’t we all just get along? Is it so impossible that all creatures can coexist in the same shared space? That raccoons can rummage freely among the used tissues and old pizza boxes of the city while our children play in the open fields or basically anywhere that isn’t near the garbage cans where raccoons like to congregate? Of course it can happen!
Sometimes a little space is all humans and creatures of any sort need to live in harmony. It also helps to have Pest Control on speed dial. You know, just in case the harmony doesn’t happen.
7. On The Male Ego (Season 2, Episode 10)
I think this is gonna be a really good bonding experience with Ron. Guys love it when you can show them you’re better than they are at something they love.
Some people like to say that men are from Mars and women are from Venus, but that’s only true if the dust on Mars is made up of combativeness and the carbon dioxide in Venus’ atmosphere causes a severe misunderstanding of what “combativeness” means.
Nevertheless, it’s sweet that Leslie is just obtuse enough to believe that if she can shoot a gun better than Ron Swanson, they will become bestest friends forever. It’s misguided, yes, but also very sweet. (But her aim with that rifle is anything but misguided! Hay-ohhhh!)
6. On Taking Criticism (Season 2, Episode 5)
I mean, that’s why people respect Hillary Clinton so much, because nobody takes a punch like her. She’s the strongest, smartest punching bag in the world.
While sports and politics may never actually mingle, it’s no rare occurrence when a politician receives a verbal beat down. Whether from an opponent in a congressional race or from the slew of pundits itching to strike out with the wittiest criticism, a politician needs some seriously thick skin to keep their detractors from gnawing through to the bone.
But if you take enough punches and can stay on your feet, you’ll be rewarded with the respect of your peers. Because people respect someone who can take a couple in the face and keep on coming. That’s basically the whole plot of the Rocky franchise, isn’t it?
5. On Dreaming Big (Season 1, Episode 2)
We’re a nation of dreamers and it is my dream to build a park that I one day visit with my White House staff on my birthday. And they say, ‘President Knope, this park is awesome. Now we understand why you are the first female President of the United States.
Just because Leslie Knope respects Hilary Clinton, that doesn’t mean she’s going to let her idol stand in the way of her ultimate goal to become the first female U.S. President. Sure, some might see the leap from Parks Director to POTUS as nothing more than a pipe dream, but you have to start somewhere. So aim for the stars!
As a side note, we could all learn a thing or two about adoration from this: Admire your ideals. But, when push comes to shove, pummel them into the ground with your bare hands and use their heads as a stepping stone to your own victory! But…metaphorically.
4. On Obeying the Law (Season 3, Episode 3)
It’s not cool. It’s trespassing, and that is breaking the rules. Cool people make the rules. They don’t break the rules.
Some people like to think they’re too cool for school. But if Leslie Knope had her way, she probably would have stayed in school indefinitely, whether as a returning teacher or through some kind of vaguely-defined extended learning program for adults. Because school is where rules…well, rule.
Illegal things are not cool. Committing misdemeanors is not cool. Rules are awesome and you’re lame if you don’t agree!
3. On Getting Help From Oprah (Season 3, Episode 5)
And I even called Oprah. Well, I tried to call Oprah. Couldn’t get her number. I’m putting it out there, like The Secret. And hopefully she’ll call me.
Oprah. If there’s one person in the world that can fix your problems, big or small, improbable or impossible, it’s Oprah goddamn Winfrey. Honestly, this isn’t even a naive thought. It’s maybe the most practical bit of optimism Leslie Knope has ever expressed.
2. On Ingenuity (Season 3, Episode 1)
Budget solutions number twenty-eight: Use grazing sheep to mow grass in parks. Note: Tired sheep could become food or sweaters.
Sometimes all the best ideas are just staring you right in the face, screaming “Baaaaaaaaaa!” Other times, you have to look a little harder to find the true gems. And since ingenuity is the heftiest tool of the eternal optimist, it’s no surprise that Leslie Knope would look at a dire situation (the town is bankrupt and the government is approaching a shutdown) and see dozens of crafty, feasible, downright obvious solutions that others might miss.
I wonder how many of her other budget solutions had these extra solutions buried in the notes?
1. On Winning For the Right Reasons (Season 4, Episode 12)
He is attractive, and charming, and his family employs half the town. But so what? I am a lifelong government bureaucrat who’s well versed in the issues. And those are the kind of sexy qualifications that win elections.
What do people really care about when they flip through an issue of People Magazine? It’s not the photos showing Jennifer Aniston’s glowing skin being kissed by the sun during her trip to an expensive island. They don’t want to see J-Lo’s still-bodacious booty or Channing Tatum’s rock-hard abs. And they certainly don’t give a hoot about the article brazenly titled “Hot Tips For Becoming George Clooney‘s Next Plaything.”
They’d much rather see the headline “How George Clooney Views the Mid-Term Elections: Is His Long-Term Economic Forecast Hot or Not?” Yep. Leslie Knope is fully aware of what gets the general populace all revved up.