What would Hillary Rodham Clinton do in Leslie Knope's situation?
When Parks and Recreation returns, the newly elected city councillor of the great city of Pawnee, Ind., may have to turn to her political idol for inspiration in order to deal with navigating the idiosyncrasies of small-town government, the increased responsibilities — seriously, rivers can't clean themselves, people! — and the unexpected stresses that come with her new position. But will Leslie Knope cope or crack?
"She realizes really soon that it's a lot harder and more confusing than she thought," Amy Poehler tells TVGuide.com. "She's lost her bearings and she doesn't really trust her instincts anymore. She's in a club that she doesn't know the rules of yet and her boyfriend is many, many miles away in Washington, D.C."
Since the beginning of the NBC comedy, Leslie Knope has been foolishly optimistic about how to get things done in small-town government. (The original proposed park is still an empty lot! Well, at least it's no longer a pit.) Fresh off her successes with the Harvest Festival and the election, the wide-eyed city councillor will struggle with the bureaucracy of bigger government.
"Leslie learns that even the smallest, most innocuous bills take a really long time and have a lot of people who fight against them for really ridiculous reasons," Poehler says. It won't help either that Season 5 will also introduce a new nemesis for Leslie, Councilman Jamm (comedian Jon Glaser). "She starts running up against the inner politics of City Council, the different councilmen and the different weird little laws and things that keep her from getting to do what she wants."
As if that weren't hard enough for the usually chipper public servant, Leslie's trip to visit Ben (Adam Scott) in Washington, D.C., will depress her further. "Leslie has to come off of winning this big election and then going to Washington, D.C., and realizing how small her town is and how small she feels when she plays with the big dogs," Poehler says, noting that in comparison, Ben and his new intern April (Aubrey Plaza) are "big shots" now in D.C. And when they take her to a party attended by real-life U.S. Senators John McCain, Barbara Boxer and Olympia Snowe, Leslie "gets tongue-tied around all of them," Poehler reports. Definitely not something that normally happens to the great Leslie Knope.
But she'll return to Pawnee a changed woman, trying to figure out how to balance her old job at the Parks Department with the difficulties of being in office. "She's going to have to start to figure out now that she has a tiny amount of power — what does she want to do with it?" Poehler says.
But Knope will persevere throughout, thanks to the help of boyfriend Ben and Skype. "They don't like the distance," she says says. "It's not easy for either one of them." Prepare to avert your eyes because Leslie will take advantage of the video chatting to soothe her spirits — if you know what we mean.
And really, even though Leslie's dealing with the burdens of her job and heartache, at least she'll always have waffles. Knope, not all is lost.
Parks and Recreation returns Thursday at 9:30/8:30c on NBC.