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Graph theory applied to soap operas

D and I were watching Desperate Housewives (DHW) a few weeks ago. Lame, I know! For those of you who don’t have other/better things to do but watch DHW let me lay the scene – it was the episode when Mike is in rehab and has to confess his secrets and apologize to all the people he has hurt (including Orson who in the past ran Mike over with his car, but Mike doesn’t remember that). There’s a small poster on one of the walls of the rehab center that says "A man is as sick as his darkest secret". The 1st part of the episode ends with the phrase "but what Orson didn’t know… was just how sick he really was" said on a really dramatic tone.

So dramatic in fact that it had me an D looking at each other and say "Wow, man, that’s deep!". That’s when D said: "You know what I’d do if I were a writer for the show? I’d bring some hackers on Wisteria Lane!".

So after a few laughs about the idea of nerdy-looking hacker meets suburban housewife scenario, a theory was born: "Using graph theory to test the soapiness of a TV show".

First some basic notions for the n00bs out there:
A graph (a mathematical concept) is a collection of vertices or ‘nodes’ and a collection of edges that connect pairs of vertices (wikipedia). Here’s an example:


A cycle graph is… doh! Here’s a picture of one (wiki again):


So here’s the theory: to each TV show a graph can be associated. Let each vertex represent a character from the show and let the edge between vertex A and B represent the sexual relation (present or past) between characters A and B.
The TV show is a soap if at least 1 cycle graph can be built.

And that my friend is a sign you should stop watching and GET A LIFE!!!

Here are some examples: first, Grey’s Anatomy


See the cycle graph? Soap!!!

Second, DHW.


Again, cycle graph -> soap!!!


1. inspiration comes from the most unexpected sources

2. I have watched waaay too much of this soaps crap. Time to quit.

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