When Parks and Recreation was on the air from 2009 to 2015, the political climate in the United States was very different. In the pre-Trump world, Barack Obama was reelected president with Joe Biden on the ticket, and it was no secret that the show’s main character, Leslie Knope, was obsessed with the then–vice president.
But now, four years after the hit television series concluded, Parks and Rec's co-creator Michael Schur doesn’t quite know how this fictional character would feel about Biden heading into the primaries for the 2020 presidential election. In fact, he thinks she’d be rather taken with another candidate: Elizabeth Warren.
“I think her love of Joe Biden came from two things: Number one, she was, like, rapaciously, sexually attracted to him. And number two, he had this really kind of plainspoken ... 'man of the people' quality,” Schur told BuzzFeed News. “And, you know, I can't speak to his physical attractiveness now all these years later, 10 years after the pilot came out.”
Schur, who also created The Good Place, said he wasn’t totally sure who Knope would endorse or vote for in the 2020 primaries, but that “there's a lot of candidates that she would like for a lot of different reasons.”
Schur also explained the root of Knope’s obsession with Biden — who even guest-starred in an episode in the fifth season.
"It was a very casual joke pitched in the writers room one day a long time ago," he told Entertainment Tonight in 2014. "It just sort of took hold, and once you give a writers room a bone like that, they are just going to chew it forever."
With Knope's well-known affinity for politics and earnest ideas about governing, fans of Parks and Recreation have wondered whom she would endorse, hypothetically speaking, if she were around today.
Back in June, the New Yorker’s Emily Nussbaum tweeted, “Wonder how Leslie Knope would feel about Joe Biden these days.”
Amy Poehler, who played the iconic role, told Variety in March she thought her Parks and Rec character might support Amy Klobuchar or Pete Buttigieg in the 2020 presidential primaries, but that was before Biden announced his own campaign.
“I don't know what Leslie would think about him now, but, you know, I think she would still admire a lot of his sort of roll-up-your-shirtsleeves, fight-for-people kind of attitude,” Schur said. “But I also think that Elizabeth Warren would be setting Leslie Knope’s hair on fire right now.”
Warren announced her 2020 campaign in February. While Biden is struggling to win over young voters, the Massachusetts senator is nipping at his heels in the polls. In the past, people have drawn comparisons between Knope and Warren, saying they’re both ambitious politicians who are eager to come up with productive, detailed plans to better their constituencies.
“Elizabeth Warren not only, I think, aligns with a lot of what Leslie believed in about the ability of the government when it's functioning well to affect people's lives for the better, but her whole thing is ‘I'm not just orating here, I've got a plan,’” Schur said.
“Leslie Knope loved a good binder and she loved a good plan and she loves a good road map. … If Leslie Knope ever did run for president, which we left sort of ambiguous in the show, ‘I've got a plan for that’ would totally have been her slogan,” he added. “That's what she was all about.”