{warning: this piece may be rather opinionated}

The beloved comedy show Parks and Recreation is somewhat dated – though not by much. The show ended about seven years ago in its 7th season. A lot can happen in seven years, and a lot has. Some of the jokes and subjects might be frowned upon in today’s society by some of our more sensitive members. For this article, I’m specifically going to talk about the history of the town in the show.

Today in the real world, many people have removed a statue of Christopher Columbus, criticized books like Little Town on the Prairie, and generally cringe when someone talks about American history…but not in this show. The main lead of the show, Leslie Knope, loves America, and loves her town. And let’s just say, her town has some pretty bad events in their history, mostly against women and Native Americans, and many of these event details are described by the lead character or depicted in murals in Pawnee’s city hall.

I think there’s something we can learn from this show. Well, a lot of things we can learn, but particularly Leslie’s love for Pawnee. By today’s standards, Leslie Knope celebrates a problematic, evil, and racist history. Also by today’s standards, by association she could even be labeled as a bigot. She loves her town…and she certainly isn’t about to erase the town’s history.

Now this article isn’t about Cancel Culture per say, because that targets people specifically. Rather, I’m strictly talking about history. We erase, we pretend, we divert the subject matter…anything to “cover up” mistakes. I truly believe that most people don’t think this is the right call to make. No matter your political affiliations, when you celebrate our country, who decides that by default you are also celebrating our historical mistakes? We seem to want to apologize a lot for our history, or even apologize for celebrating 4th of July or hanging up our nation’s flag. But Leslie Knope doesn’t do that.

Disney has taken away certain movies from children, afraid it will influence them poorly. Amazon takes away books with certain subject matters, or even changes the look of their box because it looks like Hitler’s mustache to some people (I wish that was a joke). But in the universally loved Parks and Recreation, Leslie proudly shows the murals in her city hall, murals that depict violence against women, and people killing Native Americans. No, she’s not proud of those acts. Anyone who believes that is ignorant. She’s proud to live in a town in a wonderful country, even with the crazy and bad events. If that city hall was in today’s world, there’s no question they’d be removed. Sure, some of the historical events do cause some controversies in the show, but Leslie doesn’t cave and apologize and erase the town’s history. Instead, she educates. That’s what I believe we should do now. “Here’s what happened before. It was wrong. We should learn from it. Not pretend it didn’t happen.”

I don’t know how controversial this article will be to some people, and the fact that I even have to anticipate angry comments just shows how it is in today’s internet culture. The sensitivity, the anger…no wonder we have a Cancel Culture.

I’d ask everyone to just watch this wonderful show, but today…I don’t know. Parks and Recreation could be next on the “list.” The episodes could be cut and slashed like Ben Wyatt with a budget. Like I said, Disney is already eliminating certain footage on their own platform. Wonder what’s next?