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11 Charts and Graphs About Television Shows

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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

song chart memes

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

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iStock // Ekaterina Minaeva
Man Buys Two Metric Tons of LEGO Bricks; Sorts Them Via Machine Learning
May 21, 2017
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iStock // Ekaterina Minaeva

Jacques Mattheij made a small, but awesome, mistake. He went on eBay one evening and bid on a bunch of bulk LEGO brick auctions, then went to sleep. Upon waking, he discovered that he was the high bidder on many, and was now the proud owner of two tons of LEGO bricks. (This is about 4400 pounds.) He wrote, "[L]esson 1: if you win almost all bids you are bidding too high."

Mattheij had noticed that bulk, unsorted bricks sell for something like €10/kilogram, whereas sets are roughly €40/kg and rare parts go for up to €100/kg. Much of the value of the bricks is in their sorting. If he could reduce the entropy of these bins of unsorted bricks, he could make a tidy profit. While many people do this work by hand, the problem is enormous—just the kind of challenge for a computer. Mattheij writes:

There are 38000+ shapes and there are 100+ possible shades of color (you can roughly tell how old someone is by asking them what lego colors they remember from their youth).

In the following months, Mattheij built a proof-of-concept sorting system using, of course, LEGO. He broke the problem down into a series of sub-problems (including "feeding LEGO reliably from a hopper is surprisingly hard," one of those facts of nature that will stymie even the best system design). After tinkering with the prototype at length, he expanded the system to a surprisingly complex system of conveyer belts (powered by a home treadmill), various pieces of cabinetry, and "copious quantities of crazy glue."

Here's a video showing the current system running at low speed:

The key part of the system was running the bricks past a camera paired with a computer running a neural net-based image classifier. That allows the computer (when sufficiently trained on brick images) to recognize bricks and thus categorize them by color, shape, or other parameters. Remember that as bricks pass by, they can be in any orientation, can be dirty, can even be stuck to other pieces. So having a flexible software system is key to recognizing—in a fraction of a second—what a given brick is, in order to sort it out. When a match is found, a jet of compressed air pops the piece off the conveyer belt and into a waiting bin.

After much experimentation, Mattheij rewrote the software (several times in fact) to accomplish a variety of basic tasks. At its core, the system takes images from a webcam and feeds them to a neural network to do the classification. Of course, the neural net needs to be "trained" by showing it lots of images, and telling it what those images represent. Mattheij's breakthrough was allowing the machine to effectively train itself, with guidance: Running pieces through allows the system to take its own photos, make a guess, and build on that guess. As long as Mattheij corrects the incorrect guesses, he ends up with a decent (and self-reinforcing) corpus of training data. As the machine continues running, it can rack up more training, allowing it to recognize a broad variety of pieces on the fly.

Here's another video, focusing on how the pieces move on conveyer belts (running at slow speed so puny humans can follow). You can also see the air jets in action:

In an email interview, Mattheij told Mental Floss that the system currently sorts LEGO bricks into more than 50 categories. It can also be run in a color-sorting mode to bin the parts across 12 color groups. (Thus at present you'd likely do a two-pass sort on the bricks: once for shape, then a separate pass for color.) He continues to refine the system, with a focus on making its recognition abilities faster. At some point down the line, he plans to make the software portion open source. You're on your own as far as building conveyer belts, bins, and so forth.

Check out Mattheij's writeup in two parts for more information. It starts with an overview of the story, followed up with a deep dive on the software. He's also tweeting about the project (among other things). And if you look around a bit, you'll find bulk LEGO brick auctions online—it's definitely a thing!

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Nick Briggs/Comic Relief
What Happened to Jamie and Aurelia From Love Actually?
May 26, 2017
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Nick Briggs/Comic Relief

Fans of the romantic-comedy Love Actually recently got a bonus reunion in the form of Red Nose Day Actually, a short charity special that gave audiences a peek at where their favorite characters ended up almost 15 years later.

One of the most improbable pairings from the original film was between Jamie (Colin Firth) and Aurelia (Lúcia Moniz), who fell in love despite almost no shared vocabulary. Jamie is English, and Aurelia is Portuguese, and they know just enough of each other’s native tongues for Jamie to propose and Aurelia to accept.

A decade and a half on, they have both improved their knowledge of each other’s languages—if not perfectly, in Jamie’s case. But apparently, their love is much stronger than his grasp on Portuguese grammar, because they’ve got three bilingual kids and another on the way. (And still enjoy having important romantic moments in the car.)

In 2015, Love Actually script editor Emma Freud revealed via Twitter what happened between Karen and Harry (Emma Thompson and Alan Rickman, who passed away last year). Most of the other couples get happy endings in the short—even if Hugh Grant's character hasn't gotten any better at dancing.

[h/t TV Guide]