Leslie Knope – Social Two, Self-Prez Blind Spot

Leslie Knope – the Assistant Parks Commissioner of the fictional city of Pawnee, Indiana on the NBC sitcom Parks and Recreation – is a great example of a Social Two, with a Self Preservation Blind Spot.

Two is the Helper, the caring, love-oriented type, who lives to please others. Twos suppress their own needs in order to satisfy those of others. And they need to be needed.

A Two with the Social Instinct at the top of her stack will be inclined toward acts of service for her chosen group, and in the case of Leslie Knope, her group is the people of Pawnee, a city she leslie knope at her deskloves proudly and fiercely. When the city narrowly survives a budget crisis, she misses the day to day workings and interactions of her job, saying “The bankrupt government of Pawnee has been shut down all summer so it’s been three months of no work, no meetings, no memos, no late nights, nothing. I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy.”

Leslie works for Ron Swanson, and never shows the slightest annoyance at his complete refusal to do any work related to his job. In fact, she seems to genuinely enjoy the dynamic this sets up, as she’s not only completely needed by Ron and the department, but she has the real power, knowing where everything is and how to get everything done.

She has all the time and patience in the world to give to anyone who comes to her office or speaks up at a public forum, no matter how much of a crackpot they are. “What I hear when I’m being yelled at is people caring loudly at me.”

Twos go to great lengths to show people how much they care about them. Leslie showers her friends with compliments. There’s a website devoted to compliments she gives to her best friend Ann:

Leslie compliments Ann“Ann, you spectacular cloud of brilliance.”

“Ann, you beautiful tropical fish.”

“Ann, you wild and crazy flower pot.”

“Ann, you magnificent tree of life.”

“Ann, you spectacular, golden-tongued sunflower.”

“Ann, you beautiful, confused, defender of justice.”

She loves surprising people with gifts perfectly suited to them. She does genuine detective work Leslie Knope Christmas Giftsto discover Ron’s birthday, teasing him all day about what a big birthday surprise she has in store for him, before giving him exactly what he’d like: a steak dinner, a bottle of scotch, war movies on a TV, and complete privacy.

When she finds out that Ron’s wife Diane has given birth, and that Ron kept it quiet, she shrieks that now Diane must be walking around wondering why Leslie hasn’t sent her a gift yet!!

Although Twos appear soft and sweet, they have a streak of steel in them. When crossed, they show a sudden fire that would give a raging lion pause:

leslie knope very mad“The only thing I’ll be waving is your decaptitated head on a stick in front of your weeping mother!”

“You’re in trouble because of your own stupidity.”

“You look tired and you’re all sweaty all the time. What’s your excuse? You wanna go there, Jerry?”

Furthermore, Twos don’t just give their love away to everyone. They’re selective. Leslie resents the neighbouring city of Eagleton:

“I’m not being melodramatic when I say that people from Eagleton are snobby and evil and they look down on Pawnee and they would most likely exterminate everyone from Pawnee if they weren’t so busy being obsessed with themselves! (breathes) Oh God, that was close. Sometimes when I rant about Eagleton I forget to breathe and I pass out.”

A Self-Prez Blind Spot manifests as neglect for one’s physical needs. Leslie is always willing to sacrifice sleep or rest for the sake of work. After all, the people of Pawnee need her…

In one episode we see her house is completely cluttered with binders, files, file folders and other work related paraphernelia, and she doesn’t seem to realize what a mess she lives in, or see any reason why others would look askance at her space.

Leslie Knope eating a waffleShe seemingly lives on waffles and whipped cream and little else. Her terrible dietary habits come out in other entertaining lines:

“One time I accidentally drank an entire bottle of vinegar. I thought it was terrible wine.”

“I stand behind my decision to avoid salad and other disgusting things.”

And tellingly, she’s never shown hosting a dinner party, or gifting people with baking – a commonly seen trait of Self Prez Twos.

A central challenge for Twos is to realize their own ambitions instead of putting themselves in a subordinate role in order to please someone else. Leslie runs for Pawnee City Council, and (major spoiler) later becomes director for parks of the entire midwest.

The world of politics is likely dominated by people who identify with the Social Instinct, their attunement to others and their genuine enjoyment of steering government to the common good keeping their fires burning in spite of long hours, medium pay and homes full of file folders and hastily eaten meals.

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