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Today In TV History

Today in TV History: ‘Parks and Recreation’ Mourned the Death of the World’s Greatest Mini-Horse

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Parks and Recreation

Of all the great things about television, the greatest is that it’s on every single day. TV history is being made, day in and day out, in ways big and small. In an effort to better appreciate this history, we’re taking a look back, every day, at one particular TV milestone. 

IMPORTANT DATE IN TV HISTORY: May 19, 2011

PROGRAM ORIGINALLY AIRED ON THIS DATE: Parks and Recreation, “Li’l Sebastian” (Season 3, Episode 16) [Stream on Netflix]

WHY IT’S IMPORTANT: One of the great things about the great things about Parks and Recreation was how it presented the closed loop of small-town life. Pawnee had its own identity, its own rivalries, its own history and hangups and icons. They weren’t separated from the world at large — Leslie still idolized Hillary Clinton; Ben was still obsessed with Game of Thrones — but the show understood the ways that small towns define themselves by their own ephemera. All of which is to say that the miniature horse known as Li’l Sebastian was the perfect recurring bit on the show. For one thing, he was an adorable little creature, as all miniature horses are. But just like any town mascot, he made little sense to anyone outside the bubble. He was the one thing that everybody IN town agreed upon: Li’l Sebastian was the greatest, most mesmerizing creature ever to walk on four adorable, if stumpy, legs. But to outsider Ben Wyatt … he was just a fairly cute pony.

The best parts of Li’l Sebastian storylines were watching Ben try to acclimate to the way the townspeople clearly felt about their mini-horse. It was a bit like watching someone wander into a town full of pod people and then trying to figure out how to best maneuver past them all before they notice you’re not one of them.

In the season 3 finale, we learn that much like any great thing, Li’l Sebastian could not last forever. The mini-horse that brought all of Pawnee (except Ben) together passed away, leaving a devastated community that could only be healed by the powers of Andy Dwyer’s song.

Game of Thrones

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500 candles in the wind, indeed.

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