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11 Charts and Graphs About Television Shows

Television is one thing that unites people across the country, in that almost everyone watches at least some. However, the landscape of TV offerings has expanded so much with hundreds of cable channels available, that you need a chart to keep up with it. Or many charts. Since I always get a kick out of the entertaining charts people make, I've rounded up a few that try to make sense out of all these television shows.

1. Line/Bar Graphs: Sci-Fi TV

Internet citizens have a particular love for science fiction, compared to the population as a whole, which is understandable among folks who embrace technology. These are also the type of people who like to make and read charts and graphs. Stephanie Fox of io9 made an extensive pair of graphs that show how various types of science fiction TV have evolved since 1970. I had to snip it to show here; you can see the full version at io9.

2. Flowchart: Selecting a Science Fiction Series on Netflix

If the current science-fiction offerings on TV don't appeal to your particular tastes, there are many available on Netflix. Watching years of series at a time takes some commitment, so you may want to use this handy flowchart to select a series you aren't already familiar with. This is a large chart; only the beginning point is shown here.

3. Venn Diagram: TV for Math Geeks

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It's a good thing that reruns are available, since ultra-geeky TV shows are few and far between. There is one favorite show those in the math-based disciplines can agree on, and The Big Bang Theory's biggest fans may well resemble the characters on the show. The person who is so invested in the selection of these shows that he/she made a Venn diagram about it is apparently so into a chosen discipline that he/she neglected to learn how to spell.

In 2012, reality shows dominate our TV channels. They are much less expensive to produce than classic TV sitcoms and dramas, and people watch them. The definition of reality TV covers a lot of ground, from jobs to game shows to documentaries, so that the only thing they have in common is that they are referred to as "unscripted." And there are too many of them to include them all in one chart or graph.

4. Diagram: The Intersecting World of Reality TV

If you ever flip through the cable TV channels, you’ve probably noticed how many reality series cluster around an existing idea. Yes, there’s a lot of shows set in Louisiana. And quite a few set in Alaska, too. I once quipped that a network sees no use in wasting a field office on just one show, or two, or three. But what you see here is just a small portion of the Reality TV Venn Diagram by Margaret Lyons and Jen Cotton. The whole chart is much more extensive.

If you can't read it here, see the full-size version of overlapping ideas at Vulture. And yes, I am aware that this is actually an Euler diagram, which shows existing sets and relationships, and not a true Venn diagram that would show all possible relationships.

5. Flowchart: Proof That 99% of Reality TV Started With The Hills

You may have noticed that the success of one reality TV series spawns others that are somewhat similar. This is no accident; networks that must churn out content to cover several channels 24 hours a day need new ideas, but caution leads to "new ideas" that have some relation to "old ideas." Here's a flowchart by amypiehoneybunch that traces the origins of many reality series back to the MTV series The Hills. If someone would do a chart like this for job-based reality shows, they would probably all descend from Dirty Jobs, which first aired in 2003.

6. Pie Chart: Reality TV content

funny graphs and charts

After a while, all these reality shows start to look the same, owing to the formula they all seem to use. Even within a series, the narration tends to use the same catchphrases over and over. Take, for example, the series Gold Rush Alaska.

Do you think they are trying to tell us something? Parker is now in the process of deciding whether and where to go to college.

7. Pie Chart: Important Qualities of a Reality TV Mother

You've heard that the lure of reality TV is that we feel better about ourselves when we see other people messing up their lives. More likely we are drawn to train wreck reality shows because people messing up their lives is something out of the ordinary. That's nice to know. These important qualities plotted by Cheeseboy may not make a good mother, but they make an interesting TV show.

8. Euler Diagram: Unified Theory of Primetime TV

You can plot TV shows by genre (sitcom, drama, or reality), or by subject (such as the intersecting reality shows above), or you can classify them by other criteria. This Euler diagram, compiled by Joshua David Stein for Esquire magazine, classifies shows by both subject and tone, so you can select your poison accordingly. If you can't read the names of the shows in the margins, see the enlargeable version.

9. Scatter Plot: Viewer's Political Leanings

Even political leanings are charted by TV show preference. This chart comes from an article about Donald Trump and his demand to see President Obama's birth certificate last year, but it carries information for shows besides Celebrity Apprentice. It appears that there is no such thing as a Republican that doesn't vote, or maybe they just don't watch much TV. Also, Desperate Housewives crosses the political spectrum. Take a look at the full size version.

10. Flowchart: TV to Watch in 2012

So what should you watch on TV? This very recent flowchart can help you, but you may have to enlist the help of your favorite libation to decide. It's shown bigger at The Faster Times.

11. A + B = BBC

This one's a little different, but I'm including it because it appeared in a recent edition of mental_floss magazine.

Chart Fans! See Also...

Run Your Life with Flowcharts!
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Fun with Flowcharts
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7 Geeky Flowcharts
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7 Brilliant and/or Baffling Flowcharts
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7 Flowcharts for Fun
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10 Funny Flowcharts
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10 Clever and Confusing Flowcharts
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10 Funny and Fabulous Flowcharts
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10 Venn and Not-quite-Venn Diagrams
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Fun with Venn and Euler Diagrams
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9 Silly Venn Diagrams
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Fun with Pie Charts

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travel
LaGuardia Airport Is Serving Up Personalized Short Stories to Passengers
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In between purchasing a neck pillow and a bag full of snacks, guests flying out of the Marine Air Terminal at New York City's LaGuardia Airport can now order up an impromptu short story. As Hyperallergic reports, Landing Pages is an art project that connects writers to travelers looking for short fiction written in the time it takes to reach their destination.

The kiosk was set up as part of the ArtPort Residency, a new collaboration between the Queens Council on the Arts and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which sponsors different art projects at the Marine Air Terminal for a few months at a time.

Artists Lexie Smith and Gideon Jacobs set up the inaugural project at the terminal earlier this month. To request a story from Landing Pages, travelers can visit the kiosk and leave their flight number and contact information. While the passenger is in the air, Smith and Jacobs churn out a custom story, in the form of poetry, illustration, or prose, from their airport terminal workspace and send it out in time for it to reach the reader's phone before he or she lands.

The word count depends on the duration of the flight, and the subject matter often touches upon themes of travel and adventure. As Smith and Jacobs continue their residency through June 30, the pieces they complete will be made available at Landingpages.nyc and in hard copy form at the airport kiosk.

Landing Pages isn't the first airport service to offer à la carte short stories. In 2011, a French startup debuted its short story-dispensing vending machine at Paris's Charles de Gaulle Airport. Those stories come in three categories—one-minute, three-minute, and five-minute reads—and are printed out immediately so travelers can read them during their flight.

[h/t Hyperallergic]

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Big Questions
Why Do Cats 'Blep'?
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As pet owners are well aware, cats are inscrutable creatures. They hiss at bare walls. They invite petting and then answer with scratching ingratitude. Their eyes are wandering globes of murky motivations.

Sometimes, you may catch your cat staring off into the abyss with his or her tongue lolling out of their mouth. This cartoonish expression, which is atypical of a cat’s normally regal air, has been identified as a “blep” by internet cat photo connoisseurs. An example:

Cunning as they are, cats probably don’t have the self-awareness to realize how charming this is. So why do cats really blep?

In a piece for Inverse, cat consultant Amy Shojai expressed the belief that a blep could be associated with the Flehmen response, which describes the act of a cat “smelling” their environment with their tongue. As a cat pants with his or her mouth open, pheromones are collected and passed along to the vomeronasal organ on the roof of their mouth. This typically happens when cats want to learn more about other cats or intriguing scents, like your dirty socks.

While the Flehmen response might precede a blep, it is not precisely a blep. That involves the cat’s mouth being closed while the tongue hangs out listlessly.

Ingrid Johnson, a certified cat behavior consultant through the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants and the owner of Fundamentally Feline, tells Mental Floss that cat bleps may have several other plausible explanations. “It’s likely they don’t feel it or even realize they’re doing it,” she says. “One reason for that might be that they’re on medication that causes relaxation. Something for anxiety or stress or a muscle relaxer would do it.”

A photo of a cat sticking its tongue out
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If the cat isn’t sedated and unfurling their tongue because they’re high, then it’s possible that an anatomic cause is behind a blep: Johnson says she’s seen several cats display their tongues after having teeth extracted for health reasons. “Canine teeth help keep the tongue in place, so this would be a more common behavior for cats missing teeth, particularly on the bottom.”

A blep might even be breed-specific. Persians, which have been bred to have flat faces, might dangle their tongues because they lack the real estate to store it. “I see it a lot with Persians because there’s just no room to tuck it back in,” Johnson says. A cat may also simply have a Gene Simmons-sized tongue that gets caught on their incisors during a grooming session, leading to repeated bleps.

Whatever the origin, bleps are generally no cause for concern unless they’re doing it on a regular basis. That could be sign of an oral problem with their gums or teeth, prompting an evaluation by a veterinarian. Otherwise, a blep can either be admired—or retracted with a gentle prod of the tongue (provided your cat puts up with that kind of nonsense). “They might put up with touching their tongue, or they may bite or swipe at you,” Johnson says. “It depends on the temperament of the cat.” Considering the possible wrath involved, it may be best to let them blep in peace.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

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