Quantifying the Golden Age of Television: It Really Was 1950-1970

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Proof that I Love Lucy really was the pinnacle of filmed entertainment. Except for the The Wire, of course. tv-new1-660x449.jpg
Samuel Arbesman has a fascinating post up in which he attempts to quantify the Golden Age of Television. His method was to use how long a show ran as a proxy for its quality, which seems like a decent option. By that metric, as you can see above, the period from 1950 to 1970 produced a remarkable number of long-lived shows. He also notes that there was a brief quality (or popularity) bubble in the last 1990s. That would be due to shows like the West Wing and Friends.

Completely unrelated but fascinating datapoint: 40 million American still see an episode of I Love Lucy each year. The show debuted in 1951.

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Alexis C. Madrigal

Alexis Madrigal is the deputy editor of TheAtlantic.com. He's the author of Powering the Dream: The History and Promise of Green Technology. More

The New York Observer has called Madrigal "for all intents and purposes, the perfect modern reporter." He co-founded Longshot magazine, a high-speed media experiment that garnered attention from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the BBC. While at Wired.com, he built Wired Science into one of the most popular blogs in the world. The site was nominated for best magazine blog by the MPA and best science website in the 2009 Webby Awards. He also co-founded Haiti ReWired, a groundbreaking community dedicated to the discussion of technology, infrastructure, and the future of Haiti.

He's spoken at Stanford, CalTech, Berkeley, SXSW, E3, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and his writing was anthologized in Best Technology Writing 2010 (Yale University Press).

Madrigal is a visiting scholar at the University of California at Berkeley's Office for the History of Science and Technology. Born in Mexico City, he grew up in the exurbs north of Portland, Oregon, and now lives in Oakland.

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