‘Have you heard the news? Michelle Obama is going to star on our show!’ … Parks and Recreation stars Amy Poehler and Chris Pratt.America’s first lady Michelle Obama is to appear in an upcoming episode of the sitcom Parks and Recreation.
Nanjing Night Net

Mrs Obama will appear in a one hour episode of the comedy, which airs on the Seven Network in Australia, intended as the season finale to the show’s sixth season.

The first lady is friends with one of the show’s stars, actress/comedian Amy Poehler. Poehler was a special guest of Mrs Obama’s at a school fundraising program in Miami earlier this month.

Parks and Recreation has a long history of political cameos. Mrs Obama may be the latest, but past appearances include America’s vice president Joe Biden and US senators John McCain, Olympia Snowe and Barbara Boxer.

Mrs Obama has a track record of using television to enhance her image with more than 40 appearances recorded during her husband’s term of office, including appearances on talk shows and the iconic children’s television show Sesame Street.

Her predecessors in the White House, former first ladies Laura Bush and Hillary Clinton, were more modest with the small screen.

Mrs Bush made only a dozen or so appearances, notably The Barbara Walters Summer Special, Larry King Live and The Tonight Show.

Mrs Clinton made around 20 appearances, including annual broadcast The Kennedy Center Honors and Sesame Street.

Parks and Recreation’s executive producer Michael Schur says he still hopes to secure Hillary Clinton – the former first lady turned secretary of state – for a cameo.

Schur said the “perfect ending to the series” would be a scene in which Poehler’s character, public servant Lesley Knope, and Mrs Clinton pass one another in a corridor.

“Hillary Clinton says, ‘Leslie’ [and] Leslie says ‘Secretary Clinton’ and [both] keep walking,” Schur said. “That might still be five seasons away, but that’s the trajectory I would like Leslie to enjoy.”

Political cameos do not always meet with critical or commercial success, however. Here are a handful of which, with the perspective of hindsight, experienced mixed fortunes.

Nancy Reagan, Diff’rent Strokes (1983)

Drugs being sold on Arnold’s (Gary Coleman) school campus was the theme of this “very special episode” (the ubiquitous sitcom moniker when the worthiness is dialled up). Cue the entry of US first lady Nancy Reagan who delivered a homily on drug use.

Richard Nixon, Laugh-In (1968)

Back when television was young, and “sock it to me” was the catchphrase of this iconic US sketch comedy institution, someone had the rather brilliant idea of asking the president to pop in and say it. Nixon’s comedy career? Shorter and less memorable than his political one.

Michelle Obama, iCarly (2012)

Ostensibly to promote a worthy cause – the Joining Forces initiative, which raises awareness about American families with members serving in the military – Mrs Obama paid a visit to Carly Shay. There was some dancing. And a lot of nodding. And more dancing.

Condoleezza Rice, 30 Rock (2011)

One of the most peculiar political cameos was Condy Rice’s outing as Jack Donaghy’s (Alec Baldwin) ex-girlfriend with whom he has a musical face-off. Baldwin’s flute playing was dubbed, but Condy actually played piano, revealing her talent as a classically trained pianist. And she was great.

Michael Bloomberg, Curb Your Enthusiasm (2011)

Curb’s resident bungler Larry David, playing himself, attends a fundraiser for The Michael J. Fox Foundation but somehow ends up seeming like he’s belittled Fox and his battle with Parkinson’s disease, until Mayor Bloomberg speaks up and carves David into slices.

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