Popular Culture Review Vol. 28, No. 2, Summer 2017 - Page 125

notes that laughter evoked by fictional laws that punished women for learning math and forced people of color to hand over their conveyances to any white person who paid them 25¢ allows viewers to recognize that the problems remain, albeit in different form. One of the strengths of the series is its recognition of the tension between second-wave liberal feminism’s ambivalence toward sex work and sex workers and the third wave’s sex- positivity; Engstrom devotes considerable space to her discussion of some of the ways the series deals with this fraught relationship. Likewise, her lengthy analysis of the series’ male characters and the ways in which they perform a variety of masculinities is particularly nuanced and astute, demonstrating that men benefit from feminism, too. Liberal feminism’s limitations in terms of race and class analyses is somewhat reflected in Engstrom’s text in that it gestures toward, but does not fully engage, either the series’ treatment of racialized bodies or its heteronormativity. For instance, Engstrom’s analysis does not address the ways Tom’s and Donna’s self-indulgence replicates stereotypes of people of color as being incapable of “correctly” managing their consumption. The analysis’s elision of Parks & Recreation’s heteronormativity is typical of liberal feminism’s historically troubled treatment of queerness and queer folks. But it does seem noteworthy to me that the only recurring openly queer characters are the bisexual Saperstein siblings, both particularly vapid, appetitive, unlikeable characters. Still, perhaps more significant for Engstrom’s thesis—that P&R’s femin ism has positive social effects—is the fact that none of the characters identify the Sapersteins’s queerness as a reason for not liking them or rejecting their company. However, these issues are perhaps outside the scope of Engstrom’s specific project, which is to illuminate the strategies the series employs to normalize and celebrate liberal feminism’s values and to demonstrate that feminism is integral to a healthy republic. Engstrom’s analyses are solid, and the book includes a season-by-season analysis of story arcs. She rightly holds that character development is key to character analysis over such arcs, and she is careful to contextualize her readings of characters and their roles within the Pawnee universe. She lucidly analyzes “the various ways the series presented feminism as a positive force” (back cover); historicizes the series by situating it among US television’s representations of females, female power, and female friendship; and provides an overview of some of the current literature that examines US television’s depictions of women. Overall, Erika Engstrom’s 120