Oct. 17, 2012 at 10:45 AM ET
Television fans, there's a great new list out that gives props to the medium for having the power to sway elections, create catchphrases and change the way we think.
Mental Floss' list of "25 Most Powerful TV Shows of the Last 25 Years" makes the claim that more than the Bible or Shakespeare, "The Simpsons" has changed the way we speak. D'oh! The long-running cartoon takes the No. 3 spot on the list, which cites University of Pennsylvania linguistics professor Mark Liberman, who credited the show in research in 2005 by saying, "'The Simpsons' has apparently taken over from Shakespeare and the Bible as our culture’s greatest source of idioms, catchphrases, and sundry other textual allusions."
The list gives "Buffy The Vampire Slayer" (No. 11) credit for spawning an entire academic discipline, Buffy Studies; "Sex and the City" (No. 15) boosted the pregnancy rate, according to a RAND Institute study that reported girls between 12 and 17 who watched that and other shows with "high sexual content" were more than twice as likely to become pregnant. And the show that "rewired kids' brains"? That goes to No. 8 on the list, "SpongeBob SquarePants."
As for the No. 1 spot -- that goes to a little-known (to Americans) soap opera called "Tropikanka" which can be credited with getting Boris Yeltsin re-elected in 1996. Fearing that his city-dwelling voting base would decamp to their country homes (where most did not have TVs), Yeltsin is said to have had the state-owned network that ran the soap broadcast a special triple-episode finale on election day. Viewers glued to their televisions to watch the finale then didn't have time after to get to the country, but only to stay in the city and vote.
Take a look at the list and weigh in on Facebook. What do you think are the most influential shows of the last quarter century?
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