NBC sitcom “Parks and Recreation” featured an unexpected cameo Thursday night (and a far reach from the show’s community politics): Vice President Joe Biden.
Biden appears in a short scene at the start of the show as Ben Wyatt, played by Adam Scott, takes his fiancé Leslie Knope, Amy Poehler’s character, to the Eisenhower Executive Office Building to meet Biden. Though brief, Biden’s break-out entertainment gig -- which you can see below -- is breaking down the wall between politics and Hollywood.
From the “Daily Show with Jon Stewart” to “The View,” the Obama administration has made a widespread effort to reach out to the public via popular entertainment media, which is a relatively new tactic to gain approval. Bill Clinton may have played the sax on Arsenio Hall, but that wasn't part of a continued media blitz.
Yet Biden's jaunt into entertainment media is not so surprising, given that comedy programs such as the “Daily Show” often match or exceed the viewership of traditional news broadcast shows. Reaching out to audiences on their turf may prove to be highly effective — after all, that’s how advertisers make millions.
The argument against prominent politicians appearing on primetime shows centers around "tarnishing the respectability of the office." It's not an unfounded point, but given the today’s media environment, it’s on the whole a smart move in terms of increasing visibility and popularity for those politicians.
Biden’s “Parks and Recreation” cameo wasn’t exactly a political statement, but it did show how he can descend from Capitol Hill and still be a normal American who appreciates a good sitcom. It’s today’s version of Roosevelt’s fireside chats, which, by the way, helped sway public opinion.