12 Notable Nods to Indiana on Parks and Rec
As the show says goodbye, brush up on its Hoosier winks.
1. The series finale of NBC’s Parks and Recreation airs February 24, ending Indiana’s most high-profile representation in pop culture after a six-year run. The Hoosier State never loomed large in Amy Poehler’s comedy; the town Pawnee was conceived as an amalgam of many places, and the municipal building in the opening credits is in Pasadena. But keen watchers here might have noticed some subtle Hoosier winks among the blatant ones.
2. The prominence of a certain Colts jersey on the show isn’t random. “I think Reggie Wayne is the greatest wide receiver I’ve ever seen,” says Michael Schur, the show’s co-creator and executive producer. “In most important moments in April and Andy’s lives, that jersey will crop up somewhere. It’s sort of Andy’s most prized possession.”
3. Pawnee’s civic rival is Eagleton, a town founded 200 years ago when a group “seceded” from Pawnee because they said the town smelled and the soil was infertile. Poehler’s Leslie Knope calls it “the land of rich, snobby jerks.” No one from Indy has ever said the same thing about Carmel, of course, but the competitive relationship sounds familiar.
4. Three episodes featured Detlef Schrempf, who played for the Pacers from 1988 until 1993. One character’s entertainment company hired Schrempf to shoot baskets with co-worker Roy Hibbert.
5. “If you look at maps on the wall, they are always cities of Indiana that were flipped or morphed in some way,” says Schur. The map of Pawnee is Muncie inverted, which pretty much settles the debate about which Indiana locale is the fictional town’s counterpart.
— Ball State CCIM (@BSUCCIM) January 21, 2015
6. The January 20 episode featured Grouseland, William Henry Harrison’s Vincennes home. The show’s crew built a set to mimic it.
7. Most Parks and Rec characters kick back with Dragonfly IPA by Upland Brewing Co. (If you’re hosting a finale viewing party, have it on hand.)
8. A band called Bobby Knight Ranger (really Yo La Tengo) played the Pawnee–Eagleton Unity Concert wearing crimson sweaters.
9. When the show wanted an Indiana product for scenes at a farmers market, Cara Dafforn of Bloomington’s U-Relish Farm renamed one of her slow-cooker mixes “Pawnee Chickpea.” Kroger even stocked it for a while.
10. Li’l Sebastian, the town’s beloved mini-horse (don’t call him a pony!), ranked on the show as the eighth-most-photographed thing in America, immediately following the Alamo. The only difference between Li’l Sebastian and Bloomington’s Lil Bub might be that our Internet sensation cat doesn’t have an honorary degree from Notre Dame.
11. “The cast gave a gift to the entire crew when we wrapped the show—a cutting board in the shape of Indiana with the location of Pawnee burned into it,” Schur says. “It was very cool—sort of like, let’s all take a piece of Indiana home with us.”
12. The show was nominated for 11 Emmys but never won. Underdogs—we get it.
See our Parks and Recreation final-season recap blog and more coverage here. The show’s series finale airs February 24 (NBC, 10 p.m.).