“Parks and Recreation,” the beloved NBC sitcom about a group of local government employees who become friends in the fictional town of Pawnee, Indiana, ended its seven-season run on Tuesday night, much to the dismay of its legion of fans on social media.
Though “Parks and Recreation” struggled to grow its ratings, it developed a loyal following over the years. Leslie Knope, the show’s eager, driven and ambitious protagonist, became a feminist icon to many female viewers for her unabashed ambition, drive, enthusiasm, and her fight for gender equality. BuzzFeed declared Knope “the best feminist role model on TV.” Knope has a Tumblr dedicated to her titled “Leslie Knope is my life coach.” Numerous listicles have sprung up declaring Knope’s most feminist moments. Fans have photoshopped Knope’s face on everything from Rosie the Riveter posters (“Knope we can!”) and President Obama posters (“Knope” instead of “Hope”). Knope’s female fans saw the character as aspirational, someone they could look up to and admire – and learn from.
On Tuesday night, fans of the show mourned the end of the beloved series on Twitter. But in particular, many young women bemoaned the loss of the Knope character, who had become a role model to many women.
Though the show has frequently featured high-profile political guest stars, the Tuesday finale was noticeably devoid of major guests, other than one brief cameo – from Vice President Joe Biden and his wife, Dr. Jill Biden. Throughout the series, Knope has had an infatuation with the vice president.
The rest of the episode focused on the cast of characters that audiences had come to love over the past seven seasons – Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler), Ben Wyatt (Adam Scott), Tom Haverford (Aziz Ansari), Ron Swanson (Nick Offerman), Donna Meagle (Retta), April Ludgate (Aubrey Plaza), Andy Dwyer (Chris Pratt), Ann Perkins (Rashida Jones), Chris Traeger (Rob Lowe) and Garry Gurgich (Jim O’Heir).
Over its seven seasons, “Parks and Recreation” has featured many political guest stars, including Biden, John McCain, Barbara Boxer, Kirsten Gillibrand, Cory Booker, Orrin Hatch, Olympia Snowe and former Secretary of State Madeline Albright, among others. The show was a favorite among politicians for its sunny, optimistic portrayal of government employees as dedicated public servants fighting for a noble cause – the preservation of America’s parks, in the show’s case.
Fans and critics shared tributes to the show using the hashtag #ParksFarewell, and as of midnight on Wednesday morning, the hashtag had over 175,000 mentions, according to the Twitter analytics tool Topsy.