Parks and Recreation, a popular NBC television show, presents a satirical representation of a political machine through Sweetums, a candy company. Throughout the series, Sweetums shows signs of company with a massive amount of power and wealth in the community of Pawnee, Indiana. During an election for city council, the company reveals a number of characteristics of a political machine. In this paper, I have analyzed some of the more prominent instances of Sweetums appearing to be a power within the community that has the ability to manipulate and control certain aspects of Pawnee. In doing this I have referenced a few definitions and examples used by Kweit and Kweit from their discussion on political machines. The research and analysis done in this paper attempt to prove that this television series presents Sweetums as a political machine that is portrayed as a company which uses its social standing, local power, and wealth to monopolize the outcomes of an election and manipulate the residents of Pawnee.
Note: there are Youtube videos embedded into this word document. Their hyperlinks are also attached if you are unable to play them within the document.
Parks and Recreation Logo found at NBC’s website.
Written by Sequoi Phipps
5 thoughts on “Parks and Recreation’s Sweetums: A Political Machine by Sequoi Phipps, Sec. 2”
This is one of my favorite shows so I really enjoyed reading this project. I never thought about Sweetums in this type of light. I knew they were big on corruption but never thought about them with different dimensions of power. You really tied in all aspects of what we’ve learned in class in with a popular show which in my opinion makes everything we talk about make more sense.
Sequoi, I love your interpretation of this popular comedy and your analysis of Sweetums. Parks and Rec is one of my all time favorite TV shows and it was great to think of it through this light. I love how you tied in the dimensions of power and explained them, it helped me understand them differently. Your summary of the history of Sweetums and where and when we see them in the show was well written and informative.
I really enjoyed how you used a popular television show to really explore and explain the concept of political machines. Parks and Rec is a show that goes quite a bit into politics while still being entertaining, and you did an excellent job of bringing in class readings to analyze the role of Sweetums as a political machine in the show, and especially, how i the related to the readings with the relationship between Sweetums and the non-elected sectors of the government. The only thing I remained curious about then, is if there is any showing of positive aspects of political machines in Parks and Rec since, as we know, most different governmental players, political machines included, tend to have both positive and negative sides.
Your topic really caught my attention because I think about Parks and Rec all the time during this class, but I never thought about Sweetums as a political machine. I really appreciated how well you recapped everything (especially the details that might have slipped my mind) and the videos added a whole other dimension to your paper. I also appreciated how you kept in mind that this is ultimately a comedy show, so it didn’t feel like you were trying to analyze it like a documentary. Awesome paper!
Along with the others, I loved the topic of your paper. Parks and Recreation is a personal favorite. It was so fun to apply what we’ve talked about in class to something that felt simply like entertainment. I feel challenged to keep an eye out for more situations like this, where more complex dynamics are at play within simple entertainment. Also coming from a small town, I’m curious about the power dynamics within my own community. Specifically those within the Parks and Recreation department and others they interact with. It’s interesting to see an example where the “benefits” offered by the machine seem so blatantly negative. Whereas in reality, those “benefits” are so often easily supported and fallen for.