Quick Take: How the States Got Their Shapes, "Culture Clash"
One may have wondered if the concept had the legs to fill a television season, but the answer turned out to be a resounding yes.
Review: How the States Got Their Shapes, "Culture Clash"
The History Channel's programming has progressively less and less to do with history and more and more to do with pawn shops. Nevertheless, the channel does occasionally live up to its name, as it does with How the States Got Their Shapes.
The show began as a one time, two-hour special in 2010. The special was excellent, as it explored the historical and geographical reasoning behind, as you may have guessed, the shapes of the various states that make up the United States. It was hosted by Brian Unger, who you may remember from the early days of The Daily Show or from his recurring role as the lawyer on It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, and it was made up of man on the street interviews with regular folks, some talking head speeches with experts to provide pertinent information to the viewer, and Unger partaking in various events around the country.
The special proved popular, and so it spawned a television show that premiered in March 2011. One may have wondered if the concept had the legs to fill a television season, but the answer turned out to be a resounding yes. Each episode has a particular theme to it. One week had to do with rivers. Another explored "blacked out" areas on maps (such as Area 51), while this week's episode dealt with cultural divides within states.
As you can tell, the show has ventured beyond how the borders of the states came to be, and now delves into the makeup of the states themselves. The rest of the program remains the same. In "Culture Clash," Unger visits Northern California, where many folks proclaim they live in the "state of Jefferson." Indeed, a state of Jefferon was evidently nearly formed out of northern California and southern Oregon, before a little event called Pearl Harbor put a kibosh on those plans. Unger also visits Maine, which has a very strong division between the urban south and the frontier of the north, as well as Florida, where cowboys originated but are now disappearing in the state due to the influx of Cuban immigrants and retirees from the north, not to mention Disney World.
While "Culture Clash" was not a particularly fascinating episode, it is still a worthwhile watch. Like every episode of the show, there are interesting things to learn, and plenty of fun to be had as well. Unger does a nice job as the genial host, and the show does its best to be entertaining as well as informative, usually succeeding on both counts. If you have any interest in the history and/or geography of the United States of America, then How the States Got Their Shapes should be on your radar. At the very least, don't you want to know more about Area 51 and what goes down there? You know, without the risk of venturing out there and possibly getting shot?