There was something familiar about Leslie Knope, but Ray couldn’t seem to figure out what it was. His family wasn’t any help.
He’d gone to the kids first, because he knew that if he asked Fraser he’d get a thirty-minute lesson on an unrelated subject. That’s what always happened whenever Ray asked Fraser anything.
(The worst part wasn’t the lesson. The worst part was that Ray always got so invested in the conversation, and the next thing he knew it was two in the morning and they were debating about the fishing industry.)
Of course, the kids proved useless. They didn’t watch much television because they preferred to spend their time either reading or out in the woods “becoming one with nature”.
And Fraser was completely predictable.
“Well, Amy Poehler is a fairly well-known American comedian and actress,” he said when Ray brought the question to him. He then proceeded to explain Amy Poehler’s various accomplishments in detail. (He’d gotten interested in celebrity biographies recently. However, he refused to admit this, even though Ray kept finding books about American movie stars tucked under his pillow.)
“Yeah, I know who Amy Poehler is,” Ray said, interrupting Fraser before he could start complaining about Saturday Night Live again. (Fraser, unlike their children, was incredibly invested in television, even though most shows seemed to fill him with righteous indignation.) “I’m not talking about the actress. I’m talking about the character. There’s something about her that’s… I don’t know. She reminds me of someone.”
Fraser thought about this for several seconds, which was more than their daughter had done. (“Dad, how am I supposed to commune with the caribou if you keep scaring all of them away?”)
“I’m afraid I can’t think of anyone,” he said and Ray sighed.
“It’s okay. I’ll figure it out.”
After that, it didn’t take long for Ray to realize what was so familiar about Leslie Knope.
He was married to her.
The day after Ray’s realization, he forced both of his kids to sit down in front of the TV. Or at least, he intended to force his kids to sit down in front of the TV the day after his realization. However, it took him a week to find them.
Ray sometimes regretted letting the two of them read all those books about surviving in the wilderness.
“Dad, can we be quick about this?” Nora asked, as she sat down next to her brother and started picking leaves out of her hair. “I was finally getting the herd to trust me.”
Ray didn’t dignify this request with a response.
“Kids, I’ve got something important to show you,” he said. He ignored Nora’s subsequent scoff. “And I need some feedback on this.”
Before Nora could scoff again, Ray picked up the remote and turned on the TV.
“Oh, jeez, are you having another argument with Pops about which CSI is the worst?”
“No, Nora,” Ray poked at the remote for several seconds before handing it to his son. “Damian, turn on the Netflix, will you?”
Damian did so, and Ray turned back to his daughter.
“And all the CSIs are terrible. I don’t know why your father won’t admit this.”
Nora just rolled her eyes. Ray would have argued with her further, but he was on a mission.
"Watch this, and tell me who the main character reminds you of."
The episode he pulled up was about Leslie disagreeing with her husband Ben about a vendor in the local farmer's market. Technically, there was only one scene that Ray really needed to show the kids, but he made them watch the whole episode anyway. This show was amazing. They were going to like it or he had failed as a parent.
As the episode progressed, he caught Nora laughing twice, Damian smiling once, and both of them tilting their heads at the screen whenever Leslie said something that could basically have been written by their other father. They hadn't figured it out yet, but they were close.
Eventually, they got to the scene where Ben and Leslie were standing in a fountain and arguing with each other. (They were a cute couple, but Ray still thought that Leslie and Ann should have ended up together.) (At the moment, Ann was in a relationship with Chris Traeger, another character who reminded Ray of his husband.)
"Sometimes when we disagree," Ben said, "You're so passionate I feel like I'm arguing with the sun!"
"What!" Leslie yelled, "That's totally crazy! I'm super chill all the time!"
"Oh my god," Nora whispered. "She's Pops."
They decided to break the news to Fraser gently. Or at least, Damian and Ray decided to break the news to Fraser gently. Nora had different ideas. All of her ideas were all quickly shot down for being cruel and unusual.
That night, Ray found Fraser in the kitchen washing dishes.
"Hey, hon," Ray said, picking up a dishtowel, "When you're done, the kids and I wanted to have a movie night."
Fraser froze in the middle of handing Ray a plate.
"You. Me. The kids. Movie night."
Carefully, Ray pried the plate out of Fraser's fingers.
"Yes, our kids. Who else's?"
"I'm not sure."
"Ok," Ray began drying, and tried not to make too much eye contact. Or not enough eye contact.
"Are you sure our kids actually want to do this? Of their own free will?"
"Yeah. It was their idea."
There was no response to this. Ray had probably pushed the lie too far.
"Alright. That sounds fun."
When Ray looked up, Fraser was frowning at him. Quickly, Ray grinned and started wiping off a mug.
"Pops," Nora said, "We need you to pay careful attention to this show."
She was standing in front of the TV, with Damian next to her, nodding solemnly.
"Alright," Fraser said, as settled down in the seat next to Ray. "Is there anything in particular I should be looking for?"
"Um, just, anything that seems... Um..."
"Familiar," Damian finished.
"Yes. Exactly," Nora said. "Familiar."
Without further ado, both of the kids dropped onto the couch, and Ray started the show.
The episode that Ray had shown the kids sparked no recognition in Fraser, and so they moved on to the rest of Ray's unofficial list of "Episodes Where Leslie Knope Is Actually Benton Fraser".
They were sixty percent through the list before Fraser started rubbing at his eyebrow. Instantly, all eyes were upon him.
"Pop," Nora said, "Are you okay?"
"Yes," Fraser said, "Although I think I know what you wanted me to look for."
"Yes. Of course."
They all held their breaths.
"Ann," Fraser said, "Is a lot like your dad."
There was a long silence.
"What." Ray said.
"Oh my god! She is!"
Ray was never watching TV with his family again.