How Parks and Recreation Survived for 7 Years

February 23, 2015 10:01 PM

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How Parks and Recreation Survived for 7 Years

Being a fan of Parks and Recreation over the past six years has meant loving a show that almost always seemed on the verge of cancellation. During the early seasons, journalists interviewing creator Michael Schur were pretty much required to bring up the show’s low ratings and ask him to gauge its odds of survival — so much so that Schur eventually began to paint life on the Nielsen bubble as a positive. “I’ve come to really enjoy the uncertainty. I think it breeds good ideas,” he told HitFix’s Alan Sepinwall in 2013. And yet, when Parks signs off tonight, it will have run seven seasons and 125 episodes: That’s a short run, perhaps, compared to other classic comedies (200 for The Office), but more than enough to avoid the dreaded label of “critically beloved but short-lived” (we will never let go, Happy Endings). So how did Parks manage to cheat death and end its run on its own terms? Let’s do as Leslie Knope would, and make a list of all the pros that kept Pawnee thriving as long as it did.

1. Everything’s relative in TV.There’s no getting around the fact that Parks’ audience has never been big, and despite intense love from critics and the internet, viewership (at least as measured by Nielsen) never took off. The show’s first run of six episodes back in the spring of 2009 averaged a m...

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