At least we have each other
And then with Leslie and Ben we wanted a romance for our main character, and we designed a character. You know, in the very first episode that they’re in, she comes in and yells at him for the third time. And he goes, “You wanna go get a beer?” And she says, “It’s 11 in the morning!” And he’s like, “I think you could use a beer.” And so they go have a beer in the bar, and he very casually says to her, “You want to run for office some day, right?” And she says, “Yeah, how did you know that?” And he just blows by it and says, “If you want to run for office, you gotta be an adult, you gotta make these tough decisions.” And that was designed to show right away that he had identified her as a kindred spirit. He understood her, and he had identified that she is ambitious and she has a plan for her life and her career.
And the flip side of that is when she says, “Have you ever been elected to office before?” And he says, “Yes, in a tiny town called Partridge, Minnesota,” and she goes, “Wait a second, you’re Benji Wyatt?” And she, when she was a kid, read about him. So the idea was always, let’s create a character for her whom she hates at first—because that’s more fun than love-at-first-sight, for a comedy show, at least—and two people who were maybe fundamentally different but are also, in some ways, fundamentally the same, and slowly move them toward each other. And that was the other main arc for the season, Leslie and Ben starting off very much at odds and then him simultaneously falling in love with the town and her.
Amy typically encapsulated this more eloquently than I ever could by saying that Leslie’s like the single mom and Pawnee’s her kid. And if you love Pawnee, then she’ll love you. So the idea for us was to show Ben slowly being won over by the town. Like in “Time Capsule,” he says he actually finds the passion of the public forum inspiring. And he says, “Don’t get me wrong. These people are weirdos, but they’re weirdos who care.” And she looks at him, and I think that’s the first moment when she looks at him and thinks, “I like you. I’ve identified you as a person I like.” And so the whole season was about them coming together and him simultaneously falling for the town. Finding a home.