TV and Movie Fact-Check – WIF Edu-tainment

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Most films and TV shows take place within the confines of their own fictional universe, which differs from our own in varying ways. Even shows that do seemingly take place in our world, like Friends or The Office, are dramatically different to the reality we all know when you take the time to do the math. Not sure what we mean? Well, why not think about the fan calculations that show that…

 10. Rocky is Filled with Marathon-Running Superhumans

Within the Rocky cinematic universe, Rocky Balboa is considered by many to be the greatest boxer of all-time. The films tell us Rocky is held in such high regard not for his finesse or skill (in fact that explicitly go out of their way each film to show that Rocky blocks haymakers with his chin), but because he’s made of granite and impossible to knock out.

In the film Rocky Balboa, in which Rocky makes a comeback at about 60 years old, the film makes it clear that his only advantage is his power and ability to take a hit over a much younger boxer. Which doesn’t make sense when you realize a fan worked out that for the now iconic montage sequence in Rocky II, where Rocky runs through Philadelphia, the supposedly made-of-cast-iron boxer sprints for over 30 miles. By analyzing the landmarks shown during the montage a fan worked out that Rocky punch-sprints his way through a marathon and a half, across uneven ground, and still possesses enough energy at the end to sprint up a giant flight of stairs.

This isn’t just unbelievable, it also means that not only is Rocky a world-class boxer with near unrivaled stamina and ability to take a blow, but one of the finest long distance runners to have ever lived… and it’s never mentioned in the movie. Meaning either Rocky had no idea being able to sprint 30 miles and then win a heavy-weight boxing match was a big deal, or more amusingly, that nobody in his universe think it’s impressive. The latter of which is more likely, because for the entire montage Rocky is followed nearly the entire way by a large crowd who run the exact same distance, meaning Rocky’s fictional Philadelphia is filled with random people who can sprint 30 miles like it’s no big deal.

9. The Walking Dead – 99.9998% of the World is Dead

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According to the creator of The Walking Dead, Robert Kirkman, the universe the characters inhabit, prior to being overrun with shambolic reanimated corpses, was identical to our own save for the fact it didn’t contain any zombie related media. This is why no character on the show ever uses the term “zombie” in any comic or episode.

This is important, because it’s one of the only real clues Kirkman has ever given about the world of TWD, leaving most everything else about it (including the source of the outbreak and even the date it occured) a mystery. This irked some fans, who decided to use what little information the comics and show reveal to work out exactly how many people the show’s zombie apocalypse killed.

One fan in particular, Matt Lieberman, scoured TWD media. Through searching the background of shots with calendars, and noting clothing styles and technology used by the characters, he discovered that the zombie outbreak likely occurred sometime in January 2012. By taking the global population from this time, and a quote from Kirkman saying zombies outnumbers humans “5000 to 1” when the outbreak went global, he was able to discern that only 1.4 million people survived the initial outbreak globally. When you take into account the fact 70% of the characters in TWD die during the series in a country filled with guns, Lieberman additionally calculated that if you extrapolate these figures globally, by the start of seventh season, only about 400,000 people are still alive. That’s roughly 0.0002% of the world’s population.

8. Chandler Bing is Obscenely Wealthy

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There’s a running joke in Friends where nobody is quite sure what the character Chandler Bing does for a living. He clearly works an office job of some kind, and it obviously makes him quite a bit of money, seeing as how he lives in a big-ass New York apartment, pays for his extravagant wedding with his savings, and loans his friend Joey $120,000. Wait, what?

Throughout the series, Chandler lends his roommate Joey a lot of money as well as paying his share of the rent on their apartment for three years. This is clearly established and commented upon in several episodes. In one episode, Joey insists on paying this money back. Chandler works out the rough amount, writes it on a piece of paper and hands it Joey, who sees the figure and immediately backs down.

A Reddit user, curious about what this figure was, calculated the square footage on Chandler’s apartment for the average rent, along with the minimum cost of the other things he buys for Joey like professional headshots and elocution lessons. The minimum figure they come up with for this is $120,760. Remember, this is money Chandler basically gives away to a down-on-his-luck friend who never pays it back in just over three years. That’s approximately $40,000 per year the Chan Man gives away like it’s nothing, meaning he’s presumably earning at least 5 times that. Then again, it’s no wonder he doesn’t seem to mind, considering that another fan worked out that…

7. Every Character in Friends has a Ton of Sex

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The average number of sexual partners a person will have in their lifetime is a figure that’s difficult to pin down, with various sources claiming that the number can be anywhere between 4 and 8 for women and 7 and 11 for men. This said, most sources agree that around 10 is a safe estimate for most of the population over their lifetime. Every character in Friends blows this figure out of the water.

Between the group of six, a Reddit user (it’s always a Reddit user who calculates this stuff) figured that they have approximately 138 combined, different sexual partners. That’s more than 20 each, doubling the top end of the national average. While Joey and Phoebe make up the bulk of this data, accounting for 51 and 32 occasions of being joined at the hip, respectively, even Chandler – a character who is married for five seasons – still manages to have sex with 11 partners.

Ross, on the other hand, a total jerk who treats women like crap, manages to convince 14 women to do the horizontal hug with him. Just think about that for a second. In theFriends universe, Ross has convinced more people to have sex with him in four years than 90% of people reading this will in their entire life.

6. Harry Potter Couldn’t Afford a London Flat with his Vault Full of Gold

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Throughout the Harry Potter series, a rarely mentioned plot point is that the eponymous Harry has a giant vault filled to the brim with big gold coins. Despite having enough cheddar to fund endless magical cocaine and hooker parties, Potter never once decides to use the money to splurge and buy magical supplies that could help defeat wizard Hitler. This may have something to do with the fact that in reality, Harry barely has enough money to afford a crappy 1-bedroom flat.

 You see, although the Galleons in Harry Potter are described as being made of gold, according to JK Rowling they’re only worth about $7 each. A fan took this information, as well as a screenshot from the first film showing the vault (the films were all overseen by Rowling herself), to work out roughly how much money the boy wizard actually inherited from his parents. The answer? About a quarter of million pounds.

This sounds like a lot until you realize that in the UK, this amount of money would barely be enough for Harry to buy himself a half decent London flat. If you’re thinking “maybe the money is worth more in the wizarding world so he’s probably still considered fairly rich,” remember that in the books Harry notes that even if he emptied his entire vault, it still wouldn’t be enough to buy a Firebolt, which could be likened to the wizarding world equivalent of a fancy sports car.

So in other words, Harry, the savior of the wizard race, barely had enough money to buy himself a second hand Ferrari after killing wizard Hitler and watching the only living relative he liked die.

And hey, speaking of fictional net worth…

5. The Simpsons Live Better Than You

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For most of the show’s run, the Simpson family has been portrayed as an average lower-middle class American family. Numerous jokes are made in various episodes that the family is, if not poor, at the very least struggling financially most of the time, with Marge once claiming to feed the entire Simpson family on 12 dollars a week. Which is unusual, seeing as Homer earns a fairly decent wage and the house they live in is massive.

The average wage of a nuclear safety technician (Homer’s job for most episodes) is about $82,000, or about $30,000 more than the average American family earns. Which, among other things, explains how the family has basically trekked the entire globe during the series. However, the most ridiculous thing the Simpsons own is their house.

Again, the Simpson home is often shown as being in a state of poor repair, but even so, it’s almost big enough to be considered a mini-mansion. The house contains at least four bedrooms, several bathrooms, a kitchen, a dining room, a living room, a rumpus room, a sitting room, a sauna, and enough lawn space to build an Olympic sized tennis court.

The house has variously estimated to be worth, $300,000, double that of the average American home with at least 3 times as much space.

4. Jim from The Office Wastes Most People’s Savings Being an Awful Colleague

While the American version of The Office has been praised by critics and fans for many reasons over the years, arguably one of the show’s most popular elements is the relationship between the characters Jim Halpert (played by John Krasinski) and Dwight Schrute (played by Rainn Wilson).

Most of the character’s interactions revolve around the various pranks played by Jim, which vary in the scope and complexity from simple pranks involving putting his stapler in some Jello, to learning morse code.

A Reddit user (we told you) decided to calculate just how much money Jim wasted basically being an ass to his co-worker and found that, at minimum, he invested $5,000 of his hard earned money playing pranks on a guy he claims not to like. This is 5 times more than most Americans have in their savings account, and Jim pissed it away on making one of his co-worker’s lives just a little bit more difficult for his own amusement. Which, when put that way, makes Jim seem like a bit of a tool.

3. Movies have Spent Billions Rescuing Matt Damon

This entry’s a little different from the other in that it takes into account information from different movies, all of which involve Matt Damon. Specifically, movies involving Matt Damon being rescued from some kind of danger or peril, such as Saving Private Ryan and The Martian.

According to a Quora user with either too much time on their hands or a huge Matt Damon man-crush, within the confines of the fictional universes of Damon’s movies, an estimated $900 billion has been spent rescuing his dumb ass. In our world, this equates to $729 million worth of movie budgets on the various films he’s appeared in that have been spent exclusively on rescuing him from some kind of danger.

2. Walter White Makes $5 Per Second

Exactly how much money Walter White makes while he’s breaking all that bad is never actually fully established in the show. Even the character admits that after a certain point, he simply stopped counting. Fans, however, have worked out from that episode with the giant money pile, and Walt’s own comments to other characters, that he earned about $80 million in two years.

An enterprising Reddit user (we really weren’t kidding) went right ahead and used that impressive figure to calculate how much Heisenberg earned per hour. The final figure they came up with was about $5,000 an hour, every hour, for two years straight. Or $5 per second.

But here’s the thing: seeing as for most of the show, White was basically doing regular shifts making his meth, it’s possible to work out how much more he earned than an average person. Assuming Walt was working the average amount for an American man, which is apparently 34 hours per week, Walt was earning about $23,000 an hour. Taking into account the average American wage ($24 per hour according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics), Walter White earned 95,000% more than the average American per hour. Not a bad paycheck, all things considered.

1. Someone Figured Out the Main Character of Game of Thrones with Math

What sets Game of Thrones apart from other shows is that it doesn’t really have a main character, instead following the stories of multiple characters of seemingly equal importance who can be killed off at any point.

This didn’t sit well with a math nerd named Andrew J. Beveridge, who used a mathematical formula usually reserved for studying terrorist cells to map out every relationship in the entire series to determine who the most mathematically important character was. By carefully analyzing every interaction between characters in the books, Beveridge was able to accurately pin down which one was the most important to the overall progress of the plot by their connections to other characters, the result? It’s Tyrion, the wine-drinking (P)imp with a silver tongue.

Meaning yes, it has been proved with math that Peter Dinklage is awesome.


TV and Movie Fact-Check

WIF Edu-tainment-001

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Television Show Backstories – WIF TV

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TV-001

Behind the Scenes Stories

of Beloved TV Shows

10. Firefly was Inspired by Gettysburg

firefly

Joss Whedon came up with the idea of Firefly while he was on a non-working vacation. He was reading a book called The Killer Angelswhich told the story of soldiers in the Battle of Gettysburg. Whedon was attracted to the idea of the difficulty of the soldiers’ everyday lives. He liked that the author focused on the mundane details of how people survived when they didn’t have all of their needs conveniently met by modern technology and commercialism.

Whedon had always loved the seemingly separate ideas of sci-fi and westerns, and through The Killer Angels, he saw a way to combine them. “I wanted to play with that classic notion of the frontier,” he said. “Not the people who made history, but the people history stepped on—the people for whom every act is the creation of civilization.” And Whedon decided to set the frontier on a spaceship: a ship named Serenity.

9. Carol and Susan’s Wedding in Friends

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Friends wasn’t known for being the most diverse show on television at the time, since the cast was comprised of almost entirely white actors. None of the main characters were anything other than “mainstream.” Even the acknowledgement of Ross’s first wife Carol being a lesbian was met with jokes about sexuality (mostly from Joey), and sexist comments were frequently incorporated into the script.

However, in season two Friends took a big leap toward equality by featuring a gay wedding when Carol married her girlfriend Susan. Behind the scenes, executive producer Marta Kauffman said, “NBC expected thousands and thousands of phone calls and hate mail.” However, after the episode aired, they received only four antagonistic letters. As it turns out, people just didn’t care that much.

8. The Big Bang Theory Whiteboard Has Real Equations

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The Big Bang Theory is not short on geniuses. Not only is the show about highly intelligent scientists, but cast member Mayim Bialik has a Ph.D. in Neuroscience. So it should come as no surprise that the cast would want to show off their intelligence and attention to detail. In Sheldon and Leonard’s apartment, there’s a large white board. The two roommates use the board frequently for everything from actual work that Leonard or Sheldon has brought home, or to decide whether to eat before or after the new Spider-Man movie.

The board is frequently covered in equations. Have you ever wondered what those equations mean? Well, we may never know what they mean, but they are all real, accurate equations. Very impressive, Big Bang. Very impressive indeed.

7. M*A*S*H Star Never Signed his Contract

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When M*A*S*H first aired, the characters of Hawkeye and Trapper were meant to be equally sized roles. It was with that understanding that Wayne Rogers agreed to take the role of Trapper John. However, as Alan Alda began to make changes to the characters and have more influence on the direction of the show, Hawkeye began to seriously eclipse Trapper.

Rogers, unhappy with the turn of events, decided to leave the show after the first three seasons. The breach of contract led to a multi-million dollar lawsuit. Ironically, Wayne Rogers had never signed his contract to begin with (he had a problem with a morals clause). The lawsuit was thrown out. You could say Rogers got the last laugh, but since M*A*S*H went on for eight more seasons and Rogers’ never reached the same career success again, the last laugh might be a relative concept.

6. Jack Shephard Almost Died in the First Episode

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It’s hard to imagine LOST without Jack Shephard as the group leader. Where would the show have been without him? Had the show’s writers gotten their way, we would have learned the answer to that question. When the show was pitched to ABC, Jack Shephard’s character was supposed to be killed after the pilot episode, and Kate was supposed to take on more of a leadership role in the series.

In the original casting, Michael Keaton was set to play the character. However, ABC executives begged the writers and producers to keep Jack alive. They believed the character was too likeable to die off so quickly. The writers agreed. Michael Keaton was not interested in signing up for a long-running show. Instead, the role of Jack was given to Matthew Fox. The rest is TV history.

5. Bryan Cranston was a Murder Suspect

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Many years before Bryan played “Walter White” on Breaking Bad, he and his brother worked in a restaurant in Florida. The head chef was a very mean man. In a 2011 podcast for Marc Maron, Cranston described him saying “No matter how nice you may have been to him, he hated you.” Not surprisingly, all the wait staff routinely discussed how they wanted to kill him. Cranston says it was “all [they] talked about!”

Talking about wanting to kill your boss may not be that uncommon, but it does put a damper on things when said boss actually ends up murdered. When the police came to ask questions, they ended up learning that the Cranston brothers had recently resigned to ride their motorcycles cross-country. Until they could be cleared, the two men were both suspects.

4. Sex and the City Caused a Rush on Cupcakes

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In Sex and the City, Miranda and Carrie frequent a place called Magnolia Bakery at 401 Bleeker Street. After the episodes aired, hordes of people had to investigate those cupcakes. Nothing can incur cupcake mania quite like Carrie Bradshaw can. Magnolia Bakery received a huge boost in sales and customers. In fact, they were so popular that they had to hire a “bouncer” of sorts. Not quite your typical club bouncer, this bouncer was friendly and very interested in the finer points of cupcakes.

He was responsible for monitoring how many cupcake aficionados were allowed in the store at one time. Of course Magnolia Bakery isn’t exactly complaining. The store proudly displays memorabilia from the show on the walls of their many locations. Today, Magnolia Bakery is known for their banana pudding, but they will always owe their initial success to Carrie Bradshaw and a red velvet cupcake.

3. The Andrea Yates Trial Inspired Desperate Housewives

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In 2002, Marc Cherry (the creator of Desperate Housewives) was watching the news with his mother in her home. The lead story on the news that day (and many days before) was the Andrea Yates trial. Andrea was on trial for drowning her five children in the bathtub. Marc turned to his mother and asked, “Could you imagine a woman being so desperate that she would murder her own children?”

Martha Cherry took a cigarette out of her mouth, murmured, “I’ve been there,” and resumed smoking. Marc was in shock (which, let’s face it, is a pretty healthy response when you realize your own mother may or may not have had thoughts of murdering you while you bathed). He realized for the first time how desperate and lonely it could be to be a housewife. He realized then and there that he was upon a very good idea for a TV show. This conversation was the birth of Desperate Housewives.

2. The Fresh Prince of Bel Air was Almost Bankrupt

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Will Smith had a very successful career in the late 80s and early 90s as the second half of rap duo DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince. But in spite of his financial success, Smith did not manage his money well. It’s a pretty classic tale, really. New fame, lots of money, no future plans, and lots of fancy toys added up to a lot of overspending. This lack of oversight and fiscal irresponsibility landed him on the brink of bankruptcy. He owed the government back taxes that he had not paid.

When he was offered the role of “Will” on Fresh Prince, he had 70% of his wages garnished for the first three seasons. After three years, he was able to take home his full salary. Basically, the first line of the theme song could have been written about Will Smith’s real life: “This is a story all about how/My life got flip-turned upside down.” Except in real life, the “guys making trouble in [his] neighborhood” was the IRS.

1. “The Little Kicks” in Seinfeld Almost Didn’t Happen

In the episode “The Little Kicks,” we get to see Elaine’s fabulously hilarious dance moves. It’s almost impossible to imagine a version ofSeinfeld in which Elaine doesn’t dance in such a funky way. And yet shockingly, this was almost the case. Writer Spike Fereston knew that series creator Larry David was against the dance, and he was only able to get it approved after David left. He was able to get the dance approve, but still received a lot of push back from the other writers.

Fereston recalls when writer Jennifer Crittenden stopped him in the hallway after filming and asked him, ‘Are you sure about this? Are you sure you’re not ruining Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ career?’ Considering Dreyfus won an Emmy that same year, it’s safe to say the dance was a good career move for the actress. And now to reminisce, here is Elaine doing her famous “Elaine Dance.”

Television Show Backstories

– WIF TV