How the States Got Their Shapes (2010)
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How the States Got Their Shapes is a television series that airs on the History channel. It is hosted by Brian Unger and is based on Mark Stein’s book, How the States Got Their Shapes. The show deals with how the various states of the United States established their borders, but also delves into other aspects of U.S. history, including failed states, proposed new states, and the local culture and character of various U.S. states. It thus deals with the “shapes” of the states in a metaphorical sense as well as a literal sense.
Each episode has a particular theme, such as how the landscape, or language, or natural resources contributed to the borders and character of various U.S. states. The show format follows Unger as he travels to various locations, and interviews local people, visits important historical and cultural sites, and provides commentary from behind the wheel of his car as he drives from location to location. Interspersed with these segments are brief historical synopses by notable U.S. historians.
The show started as a single two-hour special which first aired in April 2010, but returned as a regular series of one-hour shows starting in May 2011. Season 2 premiered in the fall of 2012 on H2, with a slightly more reality-oriented format, and episodes shortened to half an hour. The show currently airs Saturdays on H2, with encore showings on Friday night on the History channel.