Most TV is meant to be comfort food. While there are certainly a number of challenging, complex series out now—perhaps more than ever—the template overall is that of a product so familiar, it feels like home. A new infographic breaks down the numbers by which these shows appear to paint, and it’s only half-joking.
According to “Anatomy of Shows,” the helpful chart created by illustrator John Atkinson, every sitcom starts with a fat guy and his hot wife, and ends with hijinx and an “awww” moment. Somewhere in there is also a cunning plan. While it may not be 100% accurate, it’s not far off the mark. The fat guy/hot wife dyad may be on the wane, but it’s certainly left its mark on the TV landscape. It may be useful to look at this couple’s inclusion in the chart as referring to the odd couple pairing at the heart of almost every sitcom, whatever it may be.
The truth-bombs don’t end with sitcoms, though. This infographic also accounts for the number of minutes spent on pure shouting during a sports event, the amount of time devoted to sob stories in reality shows, and the dinner/weddings/big hats/horses factor on British imports. If you don’t recognize any of these tropes from your regular viewing habits, congratulations, you’re a cord-cutting connoisseur who plays by his own rules, and you’ll never guess whether the B-list guest star on Murder, She Wrote turns out to be that episode’s villain.