The Popular Feedback Remix: 50 States, 50 TV Series

Wow.

That’s all I can say about the feedback from last week’s blog post, 50 States, 50 Television Series.  It went viral, getting spread all over the internet quicker than I knew was possible.  Thanks to everyone who posted it, everyone who commented on it… hell, everyone who looked at it, all 18,000 views.  I certainly never intended for it to be so widely read.  Honestly, I never thought anyone would give two craps about it.  I just thought it was something to have a little fun with.

Even still, this little blog got more traffic, more comments and more debate than ever before — not to mention the extensive comment debates occurring on sites such as The Huffington Post and others.  I’ve been following the debate and the critiques — for the most part — and though it’s a little frightening how seriously some people took the original map, I am certainly not one to ignore valid criticism of my work, even if it’s a goofy, totally subjective list I came up with one time late on a Saturday night.

So, that said, I’ve remixed the map just a bit taking the popular feedback into account.  Please take note, it’s not a revision of the first map.  No no, I stick by that one as my personal geography of states by TV shows, a snapshot of what I thought at that moment in time and based on my own preferences and experiences.  For more on personal geographies, impressionist geographies and other ideas with mental mapping, check out my recent post on the matter.  This map, though, takes into account the voices of those who commented to make a “People’s Choice” edition.  Now, the remixed map… click for a bigger version.

The biggest, loudest, and most common criticisms I received over the original?

  • “OH MY GOD!!! WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU? THE MARY TYLER MOORE SHOW IS THE ONLY CHOICE FOR MINNESOTA!!!!!!!!1!!” Usually this was followed by some snide remark about how I was some young whippersnapper.  I do understand the immense popularity of this show and its influence on sit-coms… but yes, I am too young to have seen the show in its first run, and I never caught it on re-runs. So, I made the totally subjective choice of Coach in the original edition, and I now recognize that I am permanently a persona non grata in Minnesota.  Damn you Hayden Fox!
  • “No show for DC? We always get the shaft. We don’t even have a representative in Congress.” Yeah, I agree with you folks, it was a pretty crappy move for Congress not to give you representation, and it was a pretty crappy move for me to forget y’all.  The original map was intended to be part of a “50 States, 50 ____” series that no one would ever read.  Please accept The West Wing on the remixed map as an apology.  I also put Puerto Rico on this version, since they are very much in the same boat (representation-wise) as the District.
  • “I can’t believe, with all the shows out of California, you chose Baywatch. I hate you!” Okay, maybe I made that last part up.  With New York and California, it was so incredibly difficult to choose a show. Baywatch was some kind of default that I wasn’t totally happy with.
  • “Breaking Bad is the best show ever. You obviously know nothing about television.” Well, that’s a fair critique.  I’d never heard of Breaking Bad until I was encountered by approximately 200 of the show’s biggest fans.
  • “Walker: Texas Ranger? Do you have a Chuck Norris bias?” Guilty.  Well, sort of.  I have a Conan O’Brien Walker: Texas Ranger lever bias.
  • “Who in the hell is Billy the Exterminator?” Another subjective choice, in this case one that is associated so strongly with Louisiana because the show is so damn terrible.  It’s a really, really bad show.
  • “SOUTH PARK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” I know, I know.  My first dalliance into this pop culture for states business was a movie map as a response to the one that floated around a few weeks back.  The TV map was my second, and I tried to avoid having any overlaps.  Devoid that context, I agree with you 100%.

A couple of things that were, well, just wrong, but that I read over and over again:

  • “The Virginian in Wyoming? Aren’t you a little confused?” No, The Virginian was a western about a Virginian who moved to Wyoming.  It was on TV a very long time ago.
  • “Wasn’t The Dukes of Hazzard from Hazard, Kentucky?” While there is a Hazard, Kentucky (and in fact, my father-in-law’s family comes from those parts), it’s not the same Hazard.
  • “In the Heat of the Night is a movie, you jackass.” Um, it was also a television show.  You jackass?

The rest of the feedback was relatively positive, though people were sometimes angrier over their state’s representation than I ever expected.  Folks, it was supposed to be fun!  But anyway, a summary of changes in this remix, and comments when appropriate.

  • California: Baywatch –>  Arrested Development.  Despite the number of shows based in Cali, Arrested Development was the one suggested by a huge majority of commenters. That’s cool with me.  I loved that show.
  • Colorado: Mork & Mindy –>  South Park.
  • District of Columbia: No choice –>  The West Wing.
  • Florida: The Golden Girls –>  Miami Vice.  Florida folks apparently don’t like being represented by an group of hilarious elderly women.
  • Illinois: Roseanne –>  Hill Street Blues.  Apparently crime is better than white trash, given the kind of feedback this one got.
  • Indiana: Parks & Recreation –>  Eerie, Indiana.  My home state is mostly devoid of good television.
  • Kansas: Jericho –> Gunsmoke.  A newer show traded for an old classic.  Nostalgia is a powerful thing.
  • Louisiana: Billy the Exterminator –>  True Blood.  Never seen it (vampires? no thanks), but it apparently has a pretty excited fan base.
  • Michigan: Freaks & Geeks –>  Home Improvement.  Freaks & Geeks ended way too soon.  Home Improvement could have never happened, far as I’m concerned, but apparetly people liked it.
  • Minnesota: Coach –>  The Mary Tyler Moore Show. Every person in America over the age of 40 was flabbergasted by my choice. No one under 40 seemed to care.
  • New Jersey: The Sopranos –>  Jersey Shore.  So many folks from New Jersey complained about having Sopranos fatigue.  Happy now?  😉  The other competitor was House, but House was farrrr outnumbered by people that watch that obnoxious reality stuff.
  • New Mexico:In Plain Sight –> Breaking Bad.  This show, though I’ve never seen it, apparently has a rabid following if comments and emails are any indication.
  • Nevada: Reno 911! –> Bonanza.  Niche show traded for an all-time classic.
  • Ohio: The Drew Carey Show –> Family Ties.  There was a pretty bitter comment war going on one of the websites between promoters of Family Ties and WKRP in Cincinnati.
  • Pennsylvania: The Office –>  It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.
  • Puerto Rico: No selection –> The Flying Nun.  The only English-language series I could find on the island, from the late 1960s and starring Sally Field.
  • Tennessee: Memphis Beat –>  The Grand Ole Opry.
  • Texas: Walker, Texas Ranger –> Dallas.  There was a bit of debate over this one, between Dallas and King of the Hill.  My preference is King of the Hill (I wasn’t old enough to watch Dallas), but Dallas fans far outnumbered anyone else.
  • Washington: Frasier –>  Twin Peaks.  Again, I was really too young to watch Twin Peaks and enjoy it.  I’ve never caught it on re-runs.  Several commenters wondered if the division between Frasier and Twin Peaks was something to do with an urban/rural divide.  Also, some people thought Frasier was too elitist.
  • Wisconsin: That 70s Show –>  Happy Days.  Another choice that initially confused the over-40 crowd.  I did catch Happy Days in reruns, and I always thought it wasn’t much good.  And “The Fonz” was soooooo creeeeeepy!

So, there you have it.  The remixed version.  Feel free to comment at will, and even post your own maps.  It’s a kinda fun exercise!

Program notes: I will be continuing this “50 States, 50 ____” series in the weeks ahead, because I’m having fun with it.  I’d love to hear some suggestions of maps to make.

Author: Andrew Shears

Andrew Shears is an Assistant Professor of Geography at Mansfield University in Mansfield, Pennsylvania. His research interests lie at an intersection of the human-environmental nexus, and includes branches of mapping, technological, memorialization and urban geographies. He lives in Wellsboro, Pennsylvania with his wife Amy, a professional photographer.

32 thoughts on “The Popular Feedback Remix: 50 States, 50 TV Series”

    1. Hill Street Blues was supposed to be in a generic American city. The #1 Emmy nominated TV show of all time was set in Chicago. Perhaps you’ve heard of “ER”?

  1. Good job changing NM to “Breaking Bad.”
    “Deadliest Catch” seems more appropriate to Alaska, but that’s just me.
    Correction: “Hill Street Blues” was New York City, and not Chicago.

    1. Actually, “Hill Street Blues” was set in an unnamed larger metropolis. It was not intended to be Chicago, New York, or any other real-life city. (The police cars were painted very similar to Chicago police cruisers, and there were 1 or 2 other accidental references to geographic locations near Chicago, hence the belief that it was set in Illinois, but that was not the intent.)

      I would suggest ER as a good Illinois series instead.

  2. How about the best/best known/most influential bands by State?
    Guar-un-teed controversy!
    (Good luck with Idaho….)
    Dave

  3. 50 States, 50 Bands. This would be incredibly contested though, so maybe stick with a particular genre?

    50 states, 50 People. Famous people hailing from a given state.

    50 states, 50 companies. (California would be incredibly hard to choose I admit, though I think I would go with Google, simply because of their massive impact on modern culture, even more so than Apple, eBay, et cetera.) I personally would try and stick with the company that has had the largest impact on our modern world, e.g.
    California – Google
    Arkansas – Wal-mart
    Washington – Microsoft
    Missouri – Anheuser Busch
    etc.
    (Might be difficult to pick for my home state of Maryland, Johns Hopkins is the biggest employer in the state, but Under Armor and NASA are probably more well known)

    1. 50 states, 50 companies. (California would be incredibly hard to choose I admit, though I think I would go with Google, simply because of their massive impact on modern culture, even more so than Apple, eBay, et cetera.) I personally would try and stick with the company that has had the largest impact on our modern world, e.g.
      California – Google
      Arkansas – Wal-mart
      Washington – Microsoft
      Missouri – Anheuser Busch

      I’ll try a few from the Northeast:

      Maine: L.L. Bean
      Vermont: Ben & Jerry’s
      Connecticut: United Technologies
      New Jersey: Prudential
      Delaware: DuPont.

      Peter

      1. Consider our upcoming golden coast tour the perfect opportunity to explore some new foods! I’ll help consult if you wish 🙂

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  5. Seems like you could make 2 TV maps, “Classic” and “Modern.”

    Some suggestions for other maps:
    … 50 Beers.
    … 50 Tragedies/Natural Disasters
    … 50 Crimes/Criminals
    … 50 things to see/do before you die.

    1. Okay yeah…. 50 beers. Definitely need to figure out how to get a grant to conduct some on-site research for that one! I have some people who are even more obsessed with beer than I am…. I might have to call them in for some consultation.

  6. Whether one agrees with them or not, IMO, you should’ve kept the originals, for they were YOUR choices. My first reaction was “Oh, this is how this person sees it…cool.” By changing your picks the door is now open to endless debate about a decidedly trivial matter. Good grief.

    Regardless, this was a cool thing you did and I congratulate you on it.

    1. That’s exactly as I intended, to leave my map as my map and add this one to the mix.

      The debate on this issue has been, in my opinion, hilarious…. especially considering, as you also said, how trivial the whole thing is.

  7. How about shows that are deliberate vague as to their state settings? Hill Street Blues and The Simpsons are two obvious choices.

    Peter

  8. Love, love, love your map! Geography and TV together is like PB&J, IMO!

    Appreciate your original take but do agree with many of the changes. Breaking Bad is, without a doubt, one of the best things on TV now (along with Justified, Sons of Anarchy, and Terriers….I haven’t watched network TV in forever!). And I’m thrilled with your change to MTM from Coach. Perfection!

    Don’t agree with swapping Frasier for TP, altho I love both. And I have no idea how there could be more votes for Hill Street over just about anything else in IL. Roseanne IS Illinois, but even ER (or CHICAGO Hope) should’ve gotten more votes than Hill Street.

    Funny that NJ folks prefer being associated with a bunch of vapid alcohol abusers instead of a well-written gangster drama. Go figure!

    Amen to King of the Hill over Dallas, but I can see how more people would automatically associate JR Ewing with Texas than Hank Hill. I live there (thanks for the sympathy) so I get it.

    The maps are great….they bring back nice childhood memories (Alice, MTM, Happy Days) and remind me of how much I love TV!

    Your blog is officially on my watch list now! Thanks!!

    1. Oh, I see in the larger version that it’s actually two very subtly different hues. (Same thing happened with New York and Pennsylvania). Easy solution: make IL & NY red.

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