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Why Newt Gingrich Would Be The Perfect Foil For Leslie Knope On ‘Parks and Recreation’

By Alyssa Rosenberg on December 5, 2012 at 12:04 pm

"Why Newt Gingrich Would Be The Perfect Foil For Leslie Knope On ‘Parks and Recreation’"

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It’s kind of too bad that Newt Gingrich’s appearance on Parks and Recreation is the result of a drive-by coincidence, rather than an extended engagement, which I bet the former Speaker of the House would chow down on with serious relish:

Filming at Indianapolis’s St. Elmo Steak House (Ron Swanson, you ol’ devil), Parks and Recreation ran into the one and only Newt Gingrich. Showrunner Mike Schur “quickly huddled with the episode’s writer and director to incorporate Gingrich into the script,” reports the Indy Star. “It was a completely random chance,” Schur said. “But you can’t pass up on an opportunity like that.” Gingrich will now follow recent appearances by Vice-President Joe Biden and Sens. John McCain, Olympia Snowe, and Barbara Boxer.

The news that this was happening actually helped me put a finger on what’s been bothering me about this season of Parks and Recreation. Ron Swanson long gave in to Leslie’s charms, and made an exception to his general libertarianism when it comes to her efforts to improve Pawnee. On City Council, I thought she might face actual intellectual challenges of the sort that Ron used to face, perhaps in the form of the oft-glimpsed but not-fully-developed Councilman Hauser. Instead, we’ve just gotten Councilman Jam, who is a jackass rather than a representative of an actual philosophy of governance, and an old white supremacist. As a result, Leslie hasn’t forced the kinds of challenges that would require her to test her convictions and level up. Instead, she’s stumbled into unforced errors, and so has the show. I’d like to see someone like Gingrich, who’s a big character, and who represents a worldview that Leslie would actually be forced to test herself against.

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