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The Story Behind the Stats of America’s Favorite TV Shows

What Each State’s Most Popular Show Says About Us

Looking at the statistics behind each state’s favorite TV show is a bit like standing outside the lighted window of your neighbor’s house at night, peering in on a cozy, domestic scene. Our viewing choices say a lot about the influences in our collective lives and each state’s most popular show reflects those forces with surprising clarity. Here are a few of the trends we spotted in the data:


Living the Dream

Most states prefer shows that take place in the same region in which they live or have characters with distinctly regional accents.

California: Silicon Valley

Colorado: South Park

DC: Scandal

Hawaii: Lost

Louisiana: Queen Sugar

Massachusetts: Ray Donovan

New York: Gotham

Tennessee: Nashville

New Mexico: Breaking Bad

What does it say about us? We use TV not to expand our horizons or to experience new things, but to comfort ourselves with the familiar.


Smarty-pants Prefer Complexity

States that had higher rates of education and income tended to prefer darker dramas or snarky comedies, while those populations at the bottom of the list for income and education trended towards crime and small-town dramas.

States with the most high school graduates:

States with the least high school graduates:

States with highest median income:

States with lowest median income:

What does it say about us? Those with higher incomes and levels of education like complicated plot twists and snappy dialogue. If you’re light in the wallet and without a high school diploma, you probably prefer action or emotionally driven programming.


Keeping it Clean for the Children

In places where there is a much higher rate of church attendance, there is also a correlating rise in the population of children and marriage. The popular show in each state reflects that those young eyes may still be watching in the evenings, so parents are picking PG-rated programming. Those without kids and religious affiliation? Their viewing choices lean towards the paranormal and more violent, adult TV shows.

States with the most kids per capita:

States with fewest kids per capita:

States with highest rates of church attendance:

States with lowest rates of church attendance:

What does it say about us? Not only do those with religious affiliation and more children tend to prefer PG-rated content, they also focus on fantasy and sentimental, feel-good dramas.


Crime Programming Pays Off

States that had higher rates of crime also had a strong correlation with preferring shows that glorified bad behavior. Those with relatively low rates of crime leaned towards programming that celebrated the paranormal.

States with highest rates of crime:

States with lowest rates of crime:

What does it say about us? We gravitate towards TV shows that reinforce our beliefs and give voice to our fears. In states with high rates of crime, the face of threat is more human while those with lower rates of crime see threat as something more abstract—like being kidnapped by aliens.


Looking to draw your own conclusions and correlations? Drop us a line in the comment section below and let us know you’d like to see the data. We’re happy to share.