Similar Yet Different: the Structure of Social Networks of Characters in Seinfeld, Friends, How I met Your Mother, and The Big Bang Theory

Ana Lúcia Cetertich Bazzan


Networktheoryhasbeenusedtoanalyzestructuresofnarrativesinworksoffiction.Indeed,previous works have shed light on issues related to role detection, for instance. However, few comparative works exist that deal with TV shows. Since these shows are very popular, there are several Internet forums that suggest how similar some of them are, mostly by comparing roles or importance of core characters. Is this popular intuition backed by an objective, numerical analysis using tools from network theory? The goal of this paper is to compare four situation comedies (Seinfeld, Friends, How I Met Your Mother, and The Big Bang Theory) that share a lot in common since their characters are friends living in similar, urban, environments, struggling with their daily lives, careers, and so on. Using tools for analyzing social networks, these shows were compared, showing that their structures and the roles of the core characters are fundamentally different. The only measure that proved to be similar among the four shows is entropy of their graphs, especially when computed over the degree distribution.


Fictional characters social network; Centrality measures; Entropy in Networks; TV series

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