NBC’s show Parks and Recreation is always a giggle-fit induced by an optimistic fantasy of what working in municipal government is like. Set in fictional Pawnee, Indiana, the final show aired last night, forcing us to say goodbye to our favorite gang of goofy characters we secretly wish were our best friends in real life. Yet a slew of think pieces have cast a skeptical shadow on the show, criticizing whether or not the show’s two leads, conservative Ron Swanson and progressive go-getter Leslie Knope, could actually be friends. While Knope builds social safety nets and is a die-hard servant to the public, Swanson thinks capitalism is “God’s way of determining who is smart and who is poor.”

Despite these fantasy relationships, the show truly tackled some complex issues often seen in real-life municipal government over its seven-year span. From public health disparities to park access, gentrification and even voting rights, Parks and Recreation hasn’t been all unlikely friendships, tiny horses and adorable three-legged dogs. Here are three ways it’s captured some of the weirdest of issues in government. Read More