After seven seasons and 125 episodes of Parks and Recreation, one fact is as plain as the stain on Jerry's pants: this show was influenced by The Simpsons.
Of course, The Simpsons is a cultural landmark that's been around for 25 years. You'd be hard-pressed to find a current TV comedy that's not influenced by it. But Parks and Recreation has a special connection: it was co-created by Greg Daniels, a Simpsons writer during seasons 5-7 (he wrote "Bart Sells His Soul" and "Homer Badman"), and the NBC show has seen regular, ongoing contributions from Simpsons veterans Mike Scully, Donick Cary, and Dana Gould.
Maybe that explains why Pawnee reminds us so much of Springfield. Plenty of TV shows are set in medium-sized, quintessential American towns, but how many besides these two have so many instantly recognizable minor characters who can pop up, say a couple lines, get a laugh, and disappear again? How many shows are set in towns small enough that people tend to know each other, yet large enough to have its own TV and radio stations, newspapers, millionaires, and celebrities?
As Parks and Recreation rides off into the Indiana sunset, let us consider some of the ways in which Pawnee is basically Springfield.