03 September 2009

[design] Fantasy and Science Fiction Themes in TV Since Star Trek – Amazing Graphic Treat

2205.io9.com's Stephanie Fox is someone I am now a fan of. Her genius here is the chart, and her production goes to show how an aptly-designed chart can give you a distilled view of trends that you can get your brain around.

Starting the year after Star Trek's cancellation and last broadcast, the left hand column gives you an at-a-glance display of what TV shows were running, when, and how long. Looking right, you have tabulated the number of shows in which each one of a number of common themes (such as Magic, Robots, Space Travel, and Aliens). Connecting the dots gives a view of what goes popular over time, what seems t stay popular, and what was popular when televised SF and F was really big which, as it turns out, the top half of the 90s.

Here's the chart. Clicking on it should provide some biggenation; if that doesn't work, just go here: http://picasaweb.google.com/samuel.klein/BlogSupport#5377428635350131762:

Discussion and other biggenation can be had at this thread on io9.com: http://io9.com/5347631/at-last-a-graph-that-explains-scifi-tv-after-star-trek. Chart was used with permission (thanks, Stephanie!).

About the only way that I can think that this would be niftier is to add a timeline of world news and events. I'm of the opinion that SF and F television either reflects what we're trying to deal with as a society, or inverts that – in some way, SF and F portrays worlds that invert our fears and fantasies (taking us from powerless to powerful, from worried to confident), and this is because I've always felt that well-done SF really holds a mirror up to our present and compels us to question it.

But that's just me being a dilettante, maybe.

It is a nifty chart, though, and don't question me on this!

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