Analyzing The Simpsons – Season 2

The Simpson’s second season ran for 22 episodes between October 1990 and May 1991 (with a final episode being aired in July of that year) and features classic episodes such as “Two Cars in Every Garage and Three Eyes on Every Fish” featuring Blinky, the three-eyed fish; “The Way We Was” which told of how Marge and Homer met; and the first Treehouse of Horror episode. By the end of this season, the template of the Simpsons series will have been set. The Second season would also show the series at it’s ratings peak. So now with that quick intro out of the way let’s look at the second season with the same metrics we looked at the first (click HERE to see the Season One breakdown)

Just as last time, I’d like to look at the interconnection of characters from this season. As I did with Season 1, I decided that each character needed to have at least 5% of the character mentions in an episode and they had to meet that threshold for at least 2 episodes. I then compared characters who met that threshold and appeared in the same episode. In the following NetworkX diagram, the size of the circle represents the total number of episodes that the character appeared in (with that 5% mention threshold). Meanwhile, the “stronger” the line is between two characters represents a larger number of episodes that the two characters appeared in.

Interactivity between Major Characters in Season 2

The four primary Simpsons characters (all indicated with aqua circles) are the most prominent and have the strongest “ties” to each other. The curious thing I see with this is that while there are strong ties between Bart and Homer with all the others; Marge and Lisa share only a moderate bond. This indicates that while Lisa and Marge interact heavily with Homer and Bart, they aren’t featured in the same episodes starring the other.
As for the secondary characters, Burns has ties with Homer, Marge (she was hired to paint a picture of him in “Brush with Greatness”) and his loyal flunky Smithers. I was also a bit surprised to see that Martin was more frequently portrayed than Milhouse, Nelson or any of the other kids at school.

I’d also like to briefly discuss the representation of women and minorities in the series. While Season 1 has an average of just over 25% of female representation per episode, in Season 2 it went down ever so slightly to 24.83%; however the median (middle) value went up from 19.52% to 25.48%; so I guess you could say, it’s a wash. One important difference however, is that in Season 2, no episode was over 50% female (although Episode #19 “Lisa’s Substitute” came close with 49.63%. Unfortunately, the reviews of Episode #17 (“Old Money”) don’t include any mentions of the reoccuring female characters (although Bea Simmons, who dies leaving Grampa everything does play a role, albeit by dying).

Appearances by Females per Episode

As for the portrayal of minorities, the average representation per Season 2 Episode was only .76%; which I guess is an improvement from Season 1’s .29%; although the median score for each series was 0. Altogether, the storylines of 17 out of the 22 episodes in the season didn’t warrant a mention of a minority character; while the highpoint was 5.81%; which occured in Episode 10’s “Bart Gets Hit by a Car”, which featured Dr. Hibbert and Dr. Nick Riviera.

Appearances by Minorities per Episode

For those of you who read the writeup on Season 1, you’ll know about the color-coding of the following grid, but for the rest of you, here it goes. The chart below shows character mentions, as based upon a percentage of the total character mentions for that episode. The chart is also color coded from purple (less than 1% of a mention in an episode), blue (between 1% and 5%), green (5% to 10%), gold (10% to 20%), orange (20% to 30%) and red (more than 30%). The actual percentage (rounded down to the nearest number) is placed in the block for that episode with the total percentage (rounded down to the nearest number again) in the total columns. It’s this rounding down, that is responsible for the episode-based numbers not equaling the total number (so Martin was in 7.62% of Episode 2 and 2.38% of Episode 10 – which totals 10%). If a character has a total of 10 points or more, they appear in this chart:

Season 2 Appearance Grid

As opposed to Season 1, where Bart narrowly edged out his father; Season 2 has Homer with a overwhelming lead over his son, with 610 mention points versus Bart’s 293. We then get Marge with 254 and Lisa with 183. What surprises me the most is that Mr. Burns was only 14 poins behind Lisa with 169 poins. Nobody else has over 100, but Grampa comes closest with 91 and then there’s a big dropoff to Flander’s 51; followed by Smithers with 40, Martin with 34 and then a tie between Milhouse and Herb, Homer’s half-brother, each with 29 to close out the Top Ten.

Season 2 Ranking

For the overall ranking for Season 2, as opposed to Season One’s near tie behind Bart and Homer (with Bart edging out his father), Season Two went overwhelmingly to Homer 550.00 to 418.25 (even though Bart “won” the Titular episodes category). Homer wound up dominated the “Most Prominent Characters” and “25% Episode” Categories (limiting Bart and the rest of the pack to a maximum of 44.44% and 36.36%).
Marge and Lisa are once again in 3rd and 4th place, with both making gains over the previous year. The only other character to pass the 100 point threshold was Mister Burns, who racked up 153.39 points (over a 100 point gain from Season One). Grampa, Flanders and Smithers made the top 10 this year. Skinner dropped from 8th (46.82 points) to 9th (43.52 points) this season; while Maggie dropped from 5th place (116.13) to 10th (41.87). Krusty, Moe and Milhouse didn’t make the Top 10 this year.

Overall Ranking at the End of Season 2

Finally, now that I’ve processed two seasons, I’m going to rank the characters across seasons the same way that I do within one (using the same 6 categories). When looking at Seasons 1 and 2, Homer winds up being the most important character with 566.67 out of a possible 600 points. In second is Bart with 284.37, followed by Marge with 267.15 and Lisa with 241.42. Mr. Burns is the first non-Simpson to appear, with 114.50 points; which actually beats Maggie and Grampa Simpson. Finally, Principal Skinner, Krusty the Klown and Moe round up the Top Ten.

Written by Dave Curewitz

Analyzing The Simpsons – Season 1

At the time of this writing, the Simpsons has been on the air for over 30 years, with 654 episodes (and climbing). It’s amazing that any show can be on the air for this long, and while the viewership (and some would say the quality) of the series has gone down since it’s heyday; there’s no denying that there’s a lot of information that can be mined from that series.
I’ve tried to come up with a few different ways of looking at the series that will hopefully give you and understanding of who was in the series and maybe what that says about our society at the time. From a processing standpoint, I decided to scan multiple wiki sites about each episide to see which characters diehard fans noticed.
Now the first season consisted of a scant 13 episodes, but it also laid the groundwork for the entire series and introduced most of the major players of the Simpsons-verse. As time goes by, I’ll continue to add more seasons and we can see how the series changes over time.

The first way I thought about visualizing this series is by seeing how the most prominent characters interacted. To be included, I decided that each character needed to have at least 5% of the character mentions in an episode and they had to meet that threshold for at least 2 episodes. I then compared characters who met that threshold and appeared in the same episode. In the following NetworkX diagram, the size of the circle represents the total number of episodes that the character appeared in (with that 5% mention threshold). Meanwhile, the “stronger” the line is between two characters represents a larger number of episodes that the two characters appeared in.

NetworkX Diagram showing interconnectivity of Characters

So, you’ll see the two largest circles, with the most/strongest amount of connections are Homer and Bart. Next, come Lisa and Marge. Finally, come Maggie, Mr. Burns and Principal Skinner. Curiously enough, when Skinner was prominently featured, Lisa wasn’t. As time goes on and we see more and more episodes, this diagram should become more complicated and more informative.


The second way that I’d like to look at the season is to look at the demographics of the series. I’m going to first look at the Gender of the characters portrayed/mentioned. First, let’s look at Gender. As you can see in the graph below, despite making up half of humanity, women were portrayed, on average, only slightly more than 25% of the time; with a median value (middle value) of a lower 19.52%. The Lisa-featured “Moaning Lisa” (Episode 6) and the Marge-centric “Life on the Fast Lane” (Episode 9) were the most female friendly, with representations over 50%; while the Bart-centered “The Telltale Head” (Episode 8) only had a piddling 4.86%.

The other way of looking at the series is based upon the racial ethnicity of the characters being portrayed. Sure, the main family is Caucasian; but some of the series memorable characters are African-American (Carl, Dr. Hibbert, Lou) with some Asians (Apu, Akira) and Hispanics (Dr. Nick Rivera and Bumblebee Man) do appear. I was therefore shocked, to find that minority characters were all but invisible during the first season, with an average of .29% of character mentions being associated with minority characters and a median (middle) value of 0. Truth be told, 11 of the 13 episodes had virtually no minority characters do anything that warranted a mention in a wiki.

Now, let’s do a deeper dive into who was mentioned. The chart below shows character mentions, as based upon a percentage of the total character mentions for that episode. The chart is also color coded from purple (less than 1% of a mention in an episode), blue (between 1% and 5%), green (5% to 10%), gold (10% to 20%), orange (20% to 30%) and red (more than 30%). The actual percentage (rounded down to the nearest number) is placed in the block for that episode with the total percentage (rounded down to the nearest number again) in the total columns. It’s this rounding down, that is responsible for the episode-based numbers not equaling the total number (so Martin was in 7.62% of Episode 2 and 2.38% of Episode 10 – which totals 10%). If a character has a total of 10 points or more, they appear in this chart:

So, you can see that Bart and Homer are shown/discussed the most followed by the rest of the Simpsons family. You’ll then see reoccurring characters such as Krusty, Skinner, Nelson, Burns and Moe. Then there’s Jacques, the romantic bowler who tried to woo Marge away from Homer. He only appeared in a single episode, but he was fairly prominent in that episode. Rounding out the list are Milhouse and Martin and the kid’s table; with the distinction of Milhouse appearing in slivers of 5 episodes, while Martin appeared in only two, but was fairly prominent in one of them.
The last thing that I’ll discuss is the overall Ranking of characters. To do this, I considered 6 different factors:

(1) How many times the character was the titular character of an episode
(2) The number of times the character was the most prominent character in that episode
(3) The number of times that a character reached the 25% threshold
(4) The number of times that a character reached the 10% threshold
(5) The number of times a character was mentioned in an episode summary
(6) The total number of mentions (from the grid above)
I then divided the characters value by the maximum value and multiplied it by a 100, which would mean whoever did “best” in that category would get 100 points (yellow columns). Sum of those six different point totals and you get a total value between 0 and 600 (blue column).

Looking at these metrics, Bart and Homer are in a near tie: each having 2 titular rows, each being the most prominent character and crossing the 25% threshold in 5 episodes; each having hit the 10% threshold in 12 episodes and appearing in all 13 episodes. The sole difference is that Bart was mentioned 376 times (see the description in the GRID section above) while Homer was slightly lower with 350 mentions; so, Bart “wins” with 600 points, while Homer finishes up with just over 593.
After that, it’s a long way down before we get to #3 Marge (224 points) and #4 Lisa (216 points). It’s then another leap down to Krusty with 116 points. Krusty appeared in only one episode (#12 – Krusty Gets Busted) but he was the titular/most prominent character in that episode which boosts his rating.
We then see Maggie (80 points total) followed by Moe, who never hit the 10% threshold in any episode but did appear in 6 different episodes. Founding out the list are Skinner and Burns (each hitting 10% in one episode and appearing in 4; although Skinner had more mentions that Burns and thus beat out the power plant owner). Finally, we get Milhouse, who appeared in 5 separate episodes, but had a relatively low (11) number of mentions.

So, that’s a breakdown of Season 1 for you. Stay tuned for the next time when I tackle Season 2.

Written by David Curewitz

Understanding Yamada-Kun and the Seven Witches

While the traditional American comic book almost exclusively conveys the stories of costumed vigilantes, it’s Japanese cousin, manga, has a much wider range of topics. Sure, there are numerous examples of muscular males fighting each other; but there’s also a gamut of stories that focus on sports, romance, high school life and a range of hobbies. Sometimes these stories are serious and set in a world identical to our own and other times they are in fantastical realms that have to be seen to be believed. The world of “Yamada-kun and the Seven Witches” hits several different settings. On the one hand, it’s just about a high school outcast trying to enjoy his high school years while attending a school plagued with secret “witches” who use their powers as they see fit from the shadows in the otherwise mundane world in which they live in. The magic these witches weave is invisible to the average student, so most of the school’s population is unaware of the body-switching, mind-reading, future-telling and memory-erasing that is going on around them.

The series, created by Miki Yoshikawa and published in Weekly Shonen Magazine, ran for 244 chapters (each of which was approximately 20 pages long) between February 2012 and February 2017. It was adapted into an 8-episode live action series and a 12-episode anime series. By any measure, it was a successful, if not a blockbuster series and one that Yoshikawa was able to finish on her own terms, where the major characters were able to resolve all their problems and leave the magical high school as better versions of their younger selves.

I’m not going to give you a chapter-by-chapter rundown of what happened in each issue. Instead, I’m going to show you, via data visualization, who the most dominant characters are by using some math and some diagrams.

First, I want you to take a look at the following visualization, which shows you how often the characters interact with each other. One geeky thing to note is that in order to appear on this chart, a character had to appear on a minimum of 50 pages with another character.

As you can guess from the title “Yamada-kun and the Seven Witches”, the central character is Ryu Yamada. It’s no surprise that he’d be in the center of the chart and that he has the largest circle, thus signifying the most connections. If you look a little more carefully, you’ll see that he, and he alone, is connected to every other character in the diagram.

Circulating around him, from approximately the 5:00 Position (Maria Sarushima) to the 12:00 Position (Sora Himekawa), you have a series of characters, the majority of which are female, who have only a connection to Yamada. The sole exception to this “only Yamada” connection is with Nancy (real name: Haruko Nijino) who has a connection to her boyfriend Sid (who also is connected with Yamada).

So, why would these characters on the outskirts appear like this? The answer is that each character represents a witch that Yamada tries to charm/help into using their powers for good. Yamada, as you can tell, usually undergoes these missions alone (since if he had help, you’d expect to see these characters with another connection).

The rest of the action is in the top-right quadrant of the diagram, where you can probably judge that the second most important/connected character is a boy called Toranosuke Miyamura and that boys name Ushio Igarashi, Shinchi Tamaki and Kentaro Tsubaki; and girls named Miyabi Itou, Urara Shiraishi and Nene Odagiri are all prominently featured and interconnected.

Now, you may not know their exact relationships, but given that this group of characters (along with others along the outskirts of this group) are all in some sort of social circle, and if you look a little closer, you might notice that there’s actually two social circles: one comprising of Yamada, Tsubaki, Itou, Shirashi and Miyamura (with Igarashi and Odagiri connected to most of them) and a second with Yamada, Miyamura, Odagiri, Tamaki, Kurosaki and Arisugawa. The first social circle, is, in fact, the Supernatural Studies Club which comprises of Yamada and his closest friends from the first story arc; while the second represents the Student Council to which Yamada is a part of during the second story arc.

Another way of understanding Yamada-kun is by getting some key metrics on when and how often a character appeared in the series. Take a look at the following table:

Now, the first few columns (Rank, Name and First Chapter) should be fairly self-explanatory. The fourth column “Total Chapter Presense” sounds complicated, but it’s just a fancy way of saying whether or not a character appeared in 5 or more pages of the Chapter (which is approximately 20%-25% of the pages in a chapter). This is a way of differentiating between characters who are in the background for a chapter from those who have a real effect on that chapter’s story. The following column, Chapter Presence Pct, indicates the percentage of chapters that the character had a strong effect on. Finally, the Total Pages and Page Pct values show how often a character appeared and the overall percentage of Characters that the character appears on.

So, what you see is 42 distinct characters, starting with the titular character, Ryu Yamada, who appears in nearly 85% of all the pages down to Rin Sasaki, who appeared to be a major antagonist in the first chapter of the series, only to never appear in another page. If you look a bit closer at the middle of the chart, you’ll see that the “ordinary” character has a major presence in only 5-10 chapters and appear in approximately 100-120 pages, which runs in the 2% – 3% range; which means that they have about as much impact in the grand story line as Uncle Owen had in the original Star Wars. This is due to the fact, that the series consists of a number of mini-story arcs, where a new character (usually a witch) is identified and is seemingly threatening the social order of the school or is in trouble because of her powers. Once Yamada helps that character resolve their antipathy/issues; the character moves into the background and the series lurches forward to the next crisis.

This also explains why the series had to come to an end when it did. After identifying seven witches, erasing memories, re-identifying the witches, erasing the powers of the witches only to find a new set of witches, identifying the existence of warlocks and ultimately getting rid of magic in the school; the series had run its course and all that was left was to leap forward in time ten years and see what happened to all of our characters as they come together for a wedding between Yamada and Shiraishi. It was a satisfying end to a series that I enjoyed.