I’ll be honest, I had no idea which of these should be my pick this week. Agent Carter is my favorite new show in a long time, and its season finale (I refuse to believe it could be the series) was a tense, emotional hour, both well-written and well-acted. It also highlighted something about this show that has really impressed me: the way that it has created its own world, independent of the Marvel films, drawing from them so sparingly that every time it does it feels earned rather than predictable. In this episode, the moment in question was an unexpected and heartbreaking callback to the first Captain America movie, with Peggy again speaking into a microphone, this time pleading for a different man’s life. This episode also did a great job of tying up the show’s major storylines while still leaving me craving a second season, not only to find out what goes down in that prison cell, but also because I’ve grown rather attached to having Hayley Atwell on my screen each week.
My other pick, Parks and Recreation, delivered a finale that also left me wanting more (if I had my way we would never say goodbye to Pawnee), while still providing the closure that fans long for in a series finale, with the promise that this crazy little town in Indiana will thrive and carry on long into the future, and long after it has left our screens. And this applies to the characters as well; each one ended up in a place that was perfect for them, but that they never would have imagined themselves being in the pilot episode. The finale paid homage to their personal growth, the relationships they had formed, and to the audience’s commitment to this weird, wonderful gem of a show. I’m sure some will argue that its outcome was predictable or tied everything up too neatly, but for me it was a showcase for the humor, optimism, and meaningful relationships that have become synonymous with this show. I can think of a lot worse ways to say goodbye to Leslie and Co.
So why lump these shows together (aside from the fact that I’m indecisive)? It’s because I think Parks and Recreation made it possible for a show like Agent Carter to exist. Parks showed America that people want to see female-led shows, shows that celebrate women in positions of authority, shows that portray realistic friendships between ladies, and shows with men who respect and admire the strong women in their lives without feeling emasculated, all the while acknowledging that there are men out there who don’t.
And another reason? I can’t help but think that, time travel issues aside, Leslie Knope and Peggy Carter would have been good friends. In my mind, Leslie walks into Peggy’s favorite diner one day, inquiring about the waffle situation no doubt, and notices the young woman who looks like she’s carrying the weight of the world on her shoulders. Leslie sits at the next booth over from Peggy and eventually the two start talking. From that small beginning a friendship is born, one built on mutual respect and the understanding of how tough it is to work in a male-dominated field, with Leslie’s infectious optimism giving Peggy a bit of hope, and Peggy’s tips on straight talking only helping Leslie be more effective at her job.
So my real pick this week? The idea that shows like this will continue to exist, and the hope that Agent Carter and Parks and Recreation are only the tip of the iceberg.