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The Anticipation Almanac: TV

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Rabid-Fan Calculus

This summer’s returning TV favorites have whipped fans into a frenzy thanks to a combination of cliffhanger endings, outrageously long gaps between seasons, and just being really good. It’s such a special combination, in fact, that it required a mathematical formula to assess.

The Calculation:
( Number of days between previous episode and season premiere ÷ Opportunity for fans to satisfy their need for that show elsewhere, out of 10 ) + Likelihood of goodness of coming season, out of 10 × Cliffhangerness of previous finale, out of 5, with 5 being “implied imminent death of a main character” + Percent of characters that elicit genuine care and interest on the part of the audience = Rabidity of fan base, quantified.
Project Runway
272 days ÷ 8 There are so many Runway clones, plus the All Stars season starts in August.
+ 0 It’s the ninth cycle already! The thrill is gone.
× 1 N/A
+ 25 Tim, Nina.
59
True Blood
287 days ÷ 5 The ubiquity of vampire stories, the Sookie Stackhouse books, and pornography.
+ 2 Witches, oy.
× 2 Hold on to your seats. Sookie goes to the fairy kingdom.
+ 30 Eric, Lafayette.
148.8
Curb Your Enthusiam
595 days ÷ 2 Seinfeld reruns scratch that Larry David itch.
+ 7 Based on the Ricky Gervais appearance alone.
× 1 Not a cliffhanger kind of show.
+ 50 Susie, Jeff, Wanda Sykes.
354.5
Damages
450 days ÷ 3 The Good Wife covers a lot of the elegant-legal-drama ground.
+ 6 The show still hasn’t matched its first season.
× 2 Stories never feel resolved.
+ 65 Patty, only Patty.
377
Louie
289 days ÷ .5 Louis C.K.’s hilarious TV interviews just make us want more.
+ 8 Assuming the show’s a bit more consistent than last season.
× 1 Each episode is so self-contained.
+ 85 Louie.
671
Breaking Bad
399 days ÷ 1 There’s no other show like it.
+ 9 It’ s been on a steady upward trajectory.
× 5 Who knows who that bullet hit?
+ 70 Walt, Skyler, Walt Jr., Jesse, Saul.
2,110


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