The votes have been cast, the ballots counted and the results revealed: Leslie Knope is no longer a Pawnee City Council member.
“Occasionally we have to knock her around a little bit,” Parks creator Mike Schur told reporters with a laugh at a press screening, “especially professionally!”
While it wasn’t always the plan for Knope to lose her much-ballyhooed position, Schur explained that once she was “recalled in the finale last year… the writers spent the 10 weeks leading up to shooting talking about the options, and this seemed like the best, juiciest one. Once we committed to having her recalled we thought, ‘Well if she wins the vote, she’s just back where she was before.”
Poehler, for her part, believes that this latest hurdle for her alter ego dates back to a conversation she and Schur had very early on in the series.
“The idea [was] this long arc of one person with very little power believing that they can make a difference,” she recalled. “But people don’t always like the things you change — especially when they’re very personal and small, like the size of your sodas. So, it’s cool to play with the idea that just because Leslie is getting things done doesn’t mean that people like what she’s doing…. How do you fight the cynicism and disappointment that comes along with that? How do you make a difference in politics?”
Agreed Schur: “You kind of can’t tell the story [of a character fighting the tide of cynicism ] if everything is going right.”
And just like that, the recall twist was born. But that doesn’t mean Leslie is down for the count. As was made very apparent at the end of this week’s second episode, Knope is nothing if not resilient.
“She’s going to mull some stuff over, and she gets a lot of advice from a lot of different people along the way as she actively seeks out a bunch of different possibilities for her life,” Schur revealed. “She just never stops moving and eventually she’s going to find a path that makes sense to her.”
But for now, Leslie has roughly a month left in her city council seat and, Schur shared, she’ll spend every waking minute — leading right up to Parks’ 100th episode, which airs in a January and chronicles her final hours in office — “finishing off her career” in style.
Were you sad to see Leslie recalled? Will she be better off sans the City Council?