Amy Poehler should win an Emmy for Parks and Recreation this year. Yes, the year is 2020, and yes, Parks and Recreation went off the air five years ago. But hear me out: We should give her an Emmy anyway.
For one thing, today marks Poehler’s 49th birthday. An Emmy award would make a nice 49th birthday present, don’t you think? 50 is gold, and 49 is copper and nickel statues of angels holding an atom with your name engraved on the front. Pretty sure that’s how the saying goes.
Then there’s the fact that Poehler never won an Emmy for playing Leslie Knope. Leslie freakin’ Knope! One of the most iconic television characters of all time! Does that sound right to you?
It’s absolutely not right at all. Think of the joy Leslie Knope has brought us over the years, from scarfing down waffles from JJ’s diner to inspiring a new generation of female warriors to always affirming the beauty of Ann Perkins (that powerful musk ox). She was the government worker who did her job with a genuine smile, the politician who actually cared. She went from Deputy Director of the Pawnee Parks and Recreation Department to President of the United States (probably), for crying out loud! She’s a legend!
Yet year after year, Poehler was nominated for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series, and year after year, she lost. Seriously, that happened five years in a row. So much love to Julia Louis-Dreyfus, but the Television Academy couldn’t have taken one year off from the Veep obsession? Just one?!
What makes it worse is—having read Poehler’s book, Yes Please—knowing how much she wanted the award. In it, she compares the desire for the shiny gold statue to wanting pudding: It’s not something you crave or fantasize about until it’s sitting right in front of you, and then suddenly, you do want it. You want it badly. And why shouldn’t she want the pudding? It was dangled in front of her so many times, and she deserved it.
Instead of harboring bitterness, Poehler did something none of us deserved: She made the Emmys watchable. Soon, it didn’t matter which actress took home the prize for Comedy Series, because, for a few years, you could count on a funny bit when their names were called. In 2009, all of the nominees turned to the camera with a funny prop. In 2011, Poehler, Fey, Melissa McCarthy, Martha Plimpton, and Laura Linney hopped up on stage when their names were called as if they’d won—both a joke and a statement on supporting each other. In 2012, Poehler and Dreyfus “accidentally” swapped speeches, so that Dreyfus accepting her Emmy by thanking NBC and Parks and Recreation. All of these bits, you learn in Yes Please, were orchestrated by Poehler.
“Standing on stage being funny with those ladies was so much better than winning,” Poehler wrote. “I can only assume. I didn’t win. Melissa did. It doesn’t matter.”
There’s some comfort to be had in the fact that Poehler, did, at least, win an Emmy the year after Parks aired its final episode, for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series for co-hosting Saturday Night Live with Tina Fey. Perhaps that speaks to a part of the problem—Parks and Recreation was never a huge ratings grab for NBC when it was on, but it’s hard to deny the show’s lasting legacy for the network in the years since. Just look at the monster ratings for the virtual reunion episode in May, or at the way people reacted to the news that the series was leaving Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon next month. (It’s moving to NBC’s new streaming service, Peacock, which has both paid and free tiers available.)
That’s all the more reason for the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences to hand over Poehler’s long-overdue recognition for Parks and Rec in the year 2020. I’ll still never forgive them for the snub, of course, but it would be a good start.
Where to watch Parks and Recreation
New York Post
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