This week, as Democrats made history by making Hillary Clinton the first female president nominee of a major party, many on social media were thinking wistfully about another famous, albeit fictional, female politician: Leslie Knope.
That's the dedicated, perpetually optimistic public servant played by Amy Poehler for seven seasons on the NBC comedy Parks and Recreation, who herself hoped to one day become the first female president.
Wishing Leslie Knope were real & could see what just happened. ❤️
— Stephanie Perkins (@naturallysteph) July 26, 2016
Poehler was well aware of this week's DNC-related social media love. "I was texting with Amy a little bit and was like, 'Look at this! It's very nice!' It's very flattering that people still think of her when things like that happen," said Parks and Recreation co-creator Mike Schur. "It's very lovely and flattering when events happen in the nation and then people tweet out GIFs of Leslie. And this event in particular—actually nominating a woman for the first time, a mere 240 years after it was technically possible—seeing all the Leslie Knope GIFs was very heartwarming."
But the Knope/Clinton observations aren't just restricted to social media. This morning, Vox's Todd VanDerWerff highlighted the parallels between Knope and Clinton—for starters, both women have been "rebranded" from how the public was initially introduced to them—and noted that President Obama's DNC speech last night described "a Leslie Knope-ish Clinton."
Given the renewed interest in Knope at such a historical political moment, would Schur and Poehler consider reviving the character to celebrate Clinton's nomination and presidential campaign? "I would be up for anything," said Schur. "But I feel like those decisions are Amy's. It is her character, and I don't want to pimp her out."
Even if Poehler was game to bring back Knope (and there are currently no plans for her to do so), the logistics would be challenging. "You can't just rev up the machine instantly. It takes a lot of coordination, and you have to think about what it means to do that," said Schur, speaking to Adweek Wednesday night at a New York event for his new NBC sitcom, The Good Place, which premieres this fall.
The actress did previously talk about Knope with Clinton in a campaign video released in May, ahead of the Indiana primary. In the spot, Clinton asks Poehler (identified as "Mayor of Pawnee, IN *kinda") what kind of president the character would have been.
"She would run out of gas really fast," said Poehler. "I think she'd go full speed ahead, and she would make a lot of change really fast, and then she'd have to take, like, a month nap."
During Parks and Recreation's run, Knope often cited Clinton as a role model, once noting, "That's why people respect Hillary Clinton so much. Cause nobody takes a punch like her. She's the strongest, smartest punching bag in the world."
In the show, the character rose from working as deputy in Pawnee's parks and recreation department to (spoiler alert) becoming a two-term governor of Indiana. The series' closing moments hinted that far in the future, either she or husband Ben Wyatt (played by Adam Scott) had won the presidency.
Poehler's Clinton connections run far deeper than Parks and Recreation. Prior to starring in that series, Poehler memorably spoofed Clinton regularly as a cast member on Saturday Night Live.