Tag Archives: Parks and Recreation

Monday Scraps 95


1. DATING: Where do “missed connections” happen? In Illinois, on the train (duh), in Indiana, at home. Wait, what?

2. AUTHORS: Ugh. Ender’s Game was kind of my favorite thing for so so long. It still is, but I hate when the authors you love turn out to be raging homophobes. Dammit.

3. EDUCATION: This amazing investigative piece by WBEZ on the South Side’s Harper High School is incredible in basically every way journalism can be incredible.

4. KNOPE: NYMag has the inside scoop behind Amy Poehler/Leslie Knope’s amazing wedding dress.

5. SPORTS: For the very first time, a woman is participating in the NFL regional tryouts. Kicker Lauren Silberman will probably not play in the NFL, but that’s still pretty f’ing cool.

6. OSCARS: I would write about Seth McFarlane’s horribly sexist jokes, but Margaret Lyons at NYMag  nailed it so hard I’d just be paraphrasing. 

Related Post: Sunday Scraps 94: Bey, Connie Britton, Jane Austen and more.

Related Post: Sunday Scraps: 93: Guns, visiting Chicago, Margaret Atwood



Filed under Books, Chicago, Education, Gender, Hollywood, Media, Politics, Sports

Effie Trinket Does Yoga, and other Halloweenery

So yeah, it’s Halloween. Cue gasps of horror at sexualized children’s costumes, cue hurrahs at non-hetero couples costumes (even if they’re still pretty lame), cue spasms of slut-shaming and victim-blaming about girls who wear revealing costumes.

Do I think it’s silly when girls decide a mini-dress and mouse-ears make a costume? Yeah, a little bit. Have a little fun! But do I think they should expect harassment for their wardrobe choices? Of course not, that’s classic victim-blaming and it’s capital-N, capital-C Not Cool.

If there weren’t so much pressure and judgment heaped on how women dress every day, Halloween wouldn’t be such a big deal. We spend so much time trying to look good (but not slutty), attractive (but not like we’re trying too hard), that on Halloween it’s almost a relief to be able to attribute your sartorial choices to an external holiday.

Halloween is a chance to be ridiculous, to set aside for a minute the constant pressure to look a certain way. For me, that means wigs and stickers, cardboard Scrabble games, and bandanas. All I want is to be able to look back at my photos and be like “Fuck yeah! Leslie Knope!” Has anyone ever said, “Fuck yeah! Sexy kitten!”?

My instinct is to be sad for women that don’t take advantage of that temporary freedom from looking sexy. But hey, maybe for them, the mini-dress and bunny ears is what they’ve been craving for months and months, and with the temporary free pass of Halloween, they finally feel allowed to do it up right. What do I know?

My Halloween was outstanding, largely due to this series of photographs:

Effie Trinket drives a car

Effie Trinket does yoga

Effie Trinket know’s what’s up

Effie Trinket and Leslie Knope, BFFs

Related Post: Halloween 2011

Related Post: Even pumpkin-carving gets weirdly sexual around Halloween.


Filed under Chicago, Gender

Does The Good Wife Out-Feminist Parks and Rec?

Okay, okay, there’s no such thing as out-feministing.

I’ve been thinking about the rubric we came up with a few weeks ago to determine if a television show is feminist or not. The famous Bechdel Test sets the bar very, very low, an intentional strategy to illustrate how preposterous the representation of women on screen actually is. The Small Screen Feminist Rubric (catchier name? Help please?) aims higher, attempting to ask if a show meets some basic feminist criteria in addition to, you know, actually having women in it.

Alicia and Diane

The rubric originally had 8 components (which Bechdel would surely think is too many), but I want to add a 9th. My friend Miranda suggested asking whether the camera personifies the “male gaze” and I think she brings up a great point. Does it follow women’s bodies in a objectified way? Does it linger on breasts and asses? Does it, the camera itself, consistently treat male and female bodies differently?

So, with our new and improved rubric (which you can review here) in hand, does The Good Wife meet our criteria?

1. Marriage and Babies? Not the central question! While Alicia’s marriage is question on the show, it is not the tent pole on which the show stands. If Alicia and Peter officially reunited, the Good Wife could pursue a host of other plot lines. It also helps that Alicia is past child-bearing age. Imagine, ladies are still interesting after 40!

2. Women like sex too? Check! The women of Lockhart Gardner like to get down, and their down-getting doesn’t impact their worth as coworkers or friends.

3. Body beautiful? Hmmmm, The Good Wife is not so great on the body diversity front. Everyone is remarkably hot, in a remarkably thin, conventional way. To win points for this category, a show has to have characters of a variety of shapes and sizes, whose shape or size is not their defining feature (think Donna on Parks and Rec). 

4. Platonic Boy Girl Friendships? You bet. TGW has one of my favorite platonic friendships on television, the great, everlasting partnership of Diane and Will.

5. Girls that don’t talk about boys. Win! While there are plenty of substantive conversations about relationships, some of the most intense lady convos between Diane and Alicia are about the glass ceiling, politics, and work.

6. People want different things? Sometimes girls just want sex and sometimes boys just want to be snuggled? Yeah, thanks to Kalinda, TGW does pretty well at pushing boundaries of female sexuality. Similarly, the Alicia-Will arc didn’t end with a boring Alicia-wants-to-get-serious, Will-wants-a-fling cliche.

7. Some women are bitches, some men are douches ≠ Battle of the Sexes: Yep, bad behavior crosses all kinds of fun lines. Meddling judges, manipulative lawyers, lying clients, all of these exist in both sexes on TGW, and none of them are meant to be some sort of coded stereotype for “how women are” or “how men are.”

8. Feminism isn’t a dirty word. This is where this show knocks it out of the park. Interesting conversations about second vs. third wave feminism, EMILY’s list, discussions of judicial tokenism, TGW isn’t afraid to throw some unapologetic feminism.

9. Male Gaze? Hmmm, is it just me, or does the camera spend an awful lot of time on Kalinda’s breasts? Thoughts?

Score Card: The Kings do a bang-up job nearly every week. They make quality, thought-provoking television for grown-ups that isn’t afraid of messy relationships, tough conversations, or imperfect solutions. On the Feminist Rubric, they are at least 7 for 9. Could we get a few characters that aren’t all shaped exactly alike? The whole female cast is basically  the output of a multi-ethnic cookie cutter.

Related Post: Why I think men belong in the feminist movement.

Related Post: Why this Emmys season rocked for the ladies.


Filed under Gender, Hollywood, Media

Why This Emmy Season Rocked for Ladies

Anybody else watch the Emmy’s over the weekend? Too busy watching the Patriots game get fumbled by the newbie refs? TOUGH CHOICES. If you did watch the first of the major awards shows, you may have caught my favorite moment, the Amy Poehler, Julia Louis-Dreyfus swapped speech gag.

It got me thinking about how pleased I’ve been with the range of ladies on the TV these days. Between Poehler, Louis-Dreyfus, Juliana Margulies, Christine Baranski, Anna Gunn, Khandi Alexander, Tina Fey, Lena Dunham, Archie Punjabi, Claire Danes, I have even more excuses than ever to tube it up. Plus, these women are having seriously interesting conversations about what it means to be a 21st century gal (the bimbo comedy debate on 30 Rock? the 2nd wave/3rd wave feminism debate on The Good Wife?).

For Role/Reboot this week I discuss why its important to have complex, substantial, nuanced portraits of womanhood displayed in the mainstream:

Related Post: Louie addresses sexual double standards in my favorite two minutes of tv this year.

Related Post: I tally the lady-presence in Golden Globe nominees for Jezebel.


Filed under Art, Guest Posts, Hollywood, Media, Republished!

Is Parks and Rec the Most Feminist Show on TV?

I had an epiphany last night while watching the episode of Parks and Rec where Andy takes a women’s studies class. I said to myself, “I think this might just be the most feminist show on television.”

Then I was all, “Whoa there, girl, what are you metrics? Criteria? A rubric perhaps? Where’s your evidence?”

Emily: It’s just a gut feeling!

Emily: Gut feelings aren’t academically rigorous. What makes a show feminist?

Emily: Um…Gotta pass the Bechdel test, for sure, plus healthy stuff about female sexuality, male female relationships, body image, women in the workplace, etc. You know, women as well-rounded, fully-formed (and flawed) characters with concerns that extend beyond men, yada yada yada.

Emily: Make me a list. Check that shit twice.

Emily: (sigh).

After more rigorous analysis, I stick with my initial epiphany. Here is my hastily assembled rubric for determining if a show is “feminist”:

  1. The central drama is not aimed at addressing the question “when will she get married and have babies?” (Leslie Knope is 37, FYI).
  2. Women like sex too, and not just when they’re in love. Corollary: A one-night stand, though sometimes a mistake for emotional or practical reasons, does not lower a woman’s worth as a friend or partner.
  3. Lots of bodies are beautiful (Have you noticed how Donna’s size is never a plot point on Parks?)
  4. Men and women can have deep, meaningful platonic friendships (Leslie and Ron, Leslie and Tom, Donna and Tom).
  5. Female friends do not only discuss their boyfriends and the boyfriends they wish they had.
  6. Men aren’t just after sex. Women aren’t just after love. (See the respective plot arcs of Chris Traeger and Jennifer Barkley).
  7. Some women are bitches. Some men are douches. These are not stand-ins for some sort of Battle of the Sexes, but are representative of the fact that, oh hey, sometimes people suck.
  8. Feminism is not a dirty word. In Parks, we get Gertrude Stein jokes, portraits of Madeleine Albright, a women’s studies class (that isn’t a joke about lesbian colleges), debates about “Separate but Equal,” and so, so much more.

I know that there are other shows that fit this list as well (The Good Wife and Friday Night Lights come to mind). Some shows definitely do not (2 Broke Girls, The Newsroom). Are there bullet points I’m forgetting to qualify something as a feminist show? Are there sexist elements of Parks I’m ignoring?

Related Post: The best two minutes of TV about sex.

Related Post: The Good Wife handles second vs. third wave feminism gracefully.


Filed under Gender, Hollywood, Media

Sunday Scraps 30

1. MINDY: I knew Mindy Kaling was cool, but I didn’t know she was this cool. She wrote a play about Matt Damon and Ben Affleck writing Good Will Hunting, and she played Ben!

2. CEREAL: As a formerly avid reader of cereal boxes, this infographic about the history of advertising of Cinnamon Toast Crunch etc was awesome.

3. TELEVISION: Wired is doing a cool series of interviews with fact-checkers from your favorite shows. Here’s Greg Levine who spends his days calling up local governments to back up the plots of Parks and Rec with real small town crazy.

4. GRAMMAR: The Oxford Comma explained.

5. POLITICS: Really smart people talking smartly about important stuff. It’s Gail Collins and David Brooks debating Mitt Romney and the Republican field.

6. INNOVATION: Thousands of people in the Philippines live in darkness due to affordable and inconsistent electricity. And then, someone figured out this trick with a soda bottle. Let there be light indeed!

Related Post: Omar, airlines, “Shorty,” and Suri’s burn book.

Related Post: Jane Lynch, gay athletes, the worst thing your significant other has ever said.


Filed under Advertising, Food, Hollywood, Media, Politics, Really Good Writing by Other People