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Informed Small Town

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Apart from Everytown, America, another semi-common setting in fiction is a small town. A small town itself, generally, is defined as having a population of around 10,000 people — not quite a city, but not quite a village either.note  Usually in these settings (and in real life small towns), Everyone Went to School Together, and everyone knows each other.

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But sometimes in fiction, small towns are portrayed as having a lot more going on for them than would be realistic, especially as crime is concerned, to the point the viewer is left wondering if this really is a small town.

The most common setting for Geographic Flexibility. May relate to a Crapsack World setting, especially if (as is sometimes Truth in Television) the town lacks a lot of job potential. Can be a locational equivalent of Your Size May Vary, as the small town setting is occasionally depicted as larger (at times even referred to interchangeably as a town and/or a city) depending on the episode.


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Examples

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    Live-Action TV 
  • In Parks and Recreation, the town of Pawnee is said to be a small Indiana town, yet it has the headquarters of a major candy corporation, its own news stations and periodicals, a zoo, an annual beauty pageant, decent nightlife, and by season 7 the headquarters of both the Midwest branch of the National Parks Service and one of the country's largest internet companies.
  • Riverdale is established by the first season to be set in a small town, which is at odds with many of its features and the events that take place there. To wit:
    • The amount of major crime is absurdly high for a small population. A murder like that of Jason Blossom is still bound to happen, but everything else? We have a murder, a serial killer, a big criminal gang (and then several gangs), a mafioso taking over the town, a sinister cult, illegal drug trade networks, children burning down their homes, etc.
    • In small towns, everyone knows everyone, and anything that happens to someone is bound to be known by everyone (more sooner than later). How could the Blossom and Cooper families keep their big secret under wraps? At one point it was public knowledge. It's unlikely that people would "forget" after a time, as the Blossoms and Coopers were still around everyday (with the Blossom as Riverdale's premier family, no less).
  • Twin Peaks is apparently a small town where everybody knows everybody else, but the "Welcome to Twin Peaks" sign claims a population of 51,201. The original population was supposed to be 5120, but ABC executives insisted on adding a 1 on the end.
  • Sunnydale is described as a small town, with the first episode stating that the bad part of town is half a block from the good part as "we don't have a lot of town here." At various points in the series Sunnydale is shown to have multiple large malls, a major army base, a reasonably well respected university, international docks and over a dozen churches (though that last is suggested to be a reaction to the atmosphere of evil).

    Radio 
  • Adventures in Odyssey takes place in the small town of Odyssey, with a neighboring town of Connellsville, the county seat of Campbell County. Odyssey, however, apparently has going for it several radio stations, a busy airport, two colleges, several academies, and several hospitals.

    Video Games 
  • In Nancy Drew: Alibi in Ashes, Deirdre bemoans how the last interesting thing to happen in River Heights was a dead guy's will being found, and Brenda's career is stalling because she can't find any big local news to report on. But the town map shows an airport, a hospital, and at least three schools in this supposedly sleepy, white-bread town.
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    Western Animation 
  • Justified in Family Guy. While Quahog does have a lot more going on in it than a typical small town, this can be explained by the fact it is probably a suburb of Rhode Island capital Providence (the Providence skyline can be seen behind the Griffin's house). For instance, the airport Quagmire works at is likely T. F. Green Airport.
  • Ponyville from My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic is small enough to have a one-room school, but has aspects more appropriate for a medium to large city such as having a hydro-electric dam and being a viable venue for a large pop concert. It's also, despite its supposed small size, politically important enough to get semi-regular visits from royalty and post-season 3 to be the seat of power for one of the Princesses. The dam is at least explainable because they're highly dependent on having the correct geological features and it's possible that it's part of a larger power grid. Everything else seems to be the result of Ponyville suddenly gaining in importance as a result of the Mane Six living there.
  • While its status as a city or a town varies depending on the episode, Springfield in The Simpsons is sometimes stated to be a "typical American small town"... with an international airport, major TV studio, nuclear power plant, baseball and football teams, and several radio stations. In S13E22, Springfield is stated to have a population of 30,720, which while enough to qualify it as a city, is still kind of a stretch, mostly because of the airport.
  • The eponymous location in South Park, besieged by all kinds of supernatural events in the earlier episodes note , was described as a small town in the original episodes, but has been portrayed as considerably larger in the show's later years. Most notably, it went from Officer Barbrady policing the whole town by himself to having a police department that took up a whole office building (this was justified as those cops being from Park County PD, and their jurisdiction simply being expanded to South Park, which is in Park County). Rule of Funny is probably the best explanation, but still worth noting. Later seasons actually call attention to this, and justify it as South Park being gentrified by new residents looking for real estate. For example, they establish a new upscale shopping district (SoDoSoPa) where there used to be basically nothing.

    Real Life 
  • Vacation towns can be this. For example: Jackson, Wyoming is estimated to have just over ten thousand permanent residents and it certainly looks like a small town when you walk its streets. However, it's serviced by the largest airport in the whole state and has conveniences such as multiple ski resorts, spas, and an indoor heated water park. There will also be well in excess of those ten thousand people in town at any given time thanks to all the vacationers and "adventure workers" who aren't counted as permanent population.

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