If, like me, one of the main ways you experience TV is by reading internet recaps, you might’ve noticed that you over-obsess about individual episodes.
It’s a weird disconnect. At the same time that most great TV is telling one big story over thirteen or so episodes, internet TV criticism means that we scrutinize each episode more minutely than we ever have before. It’s a silly thing, like if book reviewers were to let you know how the story is going at the end of each chapter.
Anyway. One of the repositories for these episode to episode reviews is IMDB, which lists numerical ratings of TV shows by episode.
A new site called Graph TV will now take those ratings and display them on a scatter chart. One way to think of this is as a way to see when your favorite show actually jumped the shark.
For me though, what stuck out while looking at these graphs was how the difference between a great show at its best and its worst is narrower than how it feels in my heart. Like, the worst season of the Wire isn't numerically terrible, it just has fewer great episodes.
Here’s The Wire's graph.
And The Simpsons.
Lastly, here's mathematical-ish proof that Enlightened started strong and then got better with nearly every episode.