And as long as one of them gives some Nebraska community some limelight or prestige, the World-Herald will dutifully report it. At least for as long as the newspaper industries' aged customer base fails to realize that the national media is everyone anymore and that everyone and everything is declared to be the best of ----- at least twice a month.
The list itself is of course absurd. There are to be sure dozens of small towns and hundreds of villages dotting the Nebraska landscape. Papillion on the other hand is within a metropolitan area of eight hundred thousand. Now I've been around and I know that Omaha isn't all that big, but if you dear reader consider eight hundred grand to be in any way small than it is you who needs to get the fucks out of Tribecca. Papillion is a suburb, a few Walmarts, a couple of Home Depots, an overtaxed boulevard called Nebraska 370 where SUVs try to go 70 MPH with no regard for the physical possibility of that, and in the middle a psuedo-quaint main street left over from the now immemorial days when the town actually was its own physical entity. If you drop a ransom victim in Papillion and remove their blindfold, let them look around and see the big box stores and intestinal streets with phony rustic names appearing randomly among the cornfields, and they would have no way of knowing that they are not fifty miles from Chicago or thirty five from Minneapolis.
It is homogeneous, as you might have guessed. Even for a metro that spent the twentieth century going through an obsessive amount of trouble to segregate itself it is still noticiceably that, and this of course is the only real measure of 'livability' that the list takes into account. A place where White people can live among themselves; pretending to be self-reliant pioneers while still having easy access to their American Apparel and Caribou Coffee. It's no accident that the number two 'small town' on the list is the even more absurdly unbucolic Golden, Colorado.
There are to be fair some genuinely rural places in the back half of the list. Yankton, South Dakota is at number seven on the list. I have extended family in the area and know it fairly well, which makes me reasonably certain that the listmakers have not anywhere near the places they rewarded.