Dear Ben and Leslie,
You’re fictional characters so you won’t read this, but I still want you to know that you’re one of the best couples in television history. In fact, I’d go so far as to say you’re the best. No, you’re not each other’s lobster, nor are you Sam and Diane, but you’re more than that — you’re believable, happy, supportive, warm, and one of you has a really nice butt. (Hint: It’s you, Ben, you have the nice butt.)
There’s a certain argument when it comes to couples in the television world and when they should get together. After all, when Maddie and David got together in the 80s series Moonlighting, things went downhill almost immediately. Since then, there’s been the question of whether or not things get stale after the will-they-won’t-they pull of a lead couple is resolved. Now, you two first got together in Season 3, only one season after Ben first arrived in the little town of Pawnee, Indiana, and four seasons before the show ended.
So then it became: what will happen on Parks and Recreation (the show you were both on) now that Ben and Leslie are together? It was the question on my mind, as well as several other fans’ minds. Oh yes, you both have fans. Lots of them. Not unlike you and Game of Thrones, Ben. Or Letters to Cleo. Or you and your love for Joe Biden, Leslie.
Anyway. An astonishing thing happened next: the show got better. You both as individual characters and as a couple got better and stronger and even more enjoyable if you can believe it. I know, it’s hard, this show was — and is — kind of utterly perfect across the board.
And I’ve figured out the secret to all this, you see. Your relationship, just as your show continues to embody, is built on mutual support and positivity. Instead of punching down, as so many comedies do these days, all of your humor (and you two are very funny people) comes from a place of joy, not mockery (unless we’re mocking men’s rights, because it’s nothing). It was refreshing to watch, and still is (thank you, Netflix, please never take Parks and Rec away from us), because the television landscape still hasn’t and will likely never become home to a couple like you again.
Now let’s take a moment to give a shout-out to Mike Schur, the guy who created you both, because he never manufactured drama between you two for the sake of drama (the foundation of television, really). Any conflicts that arose between you guys during the course of the show (I can’t speak to any conflicts since then because I haven’t been privy to your life since the series ended, unfortunately) were believable and solved through communication and a clear, unfailing love and respect for one another. Your most famous quote, “I love you and I like you,” is special and memorable because of what it means. You two not only love each other, but you like each other too, and it’s rare to find that done so genuinely well in fictional couples.
Instead of making us watch you guys break up and fight, etc. etc., we instead got to watch you cheer each on when you succeeded and comfort each other when you failed. And it’s truly been one of most joyous experiences I’ve ever had with a piece of media and definitely with a ship (that’s what the cool kids call relationships, Benjamin and Lesliemin).
Ben, you’ve supported Leslie so much throughout her entire political career, even stepping back to let her run for Governor of Indiana when you were both approached to do so. And Leslie, you supported Ben through everything, from his return to Ice Town to Cones of Dunshire, The Adventure Continues: The Winds of Tremorrah, which went on to become the ninth-highest-selling multi-player figurine-based strategy fantasy sequel game in history. If that’s not love, I don’t know what is.
Basically, you two have set quite the standard for TV couples. Because girls don’t want a pair screaming about whether or not they were on a break in their television viewing, girls want healthy couples who support each other and roleplay as historical and political figures together.
So thanks for everything, you’ll always be my favorite.
Anya Crittenton | Associate Editor