MENSA Members Pick TV’s 5 Smartest Shows

by | September 17, 2012 at 4:31 PM | TV News


It happens all the time. Whether you’re at a PTA meeting or an art gallery opening or ordering your morning coffee, the conversation will inevitably turn to television. And at some point, someone will proudly announce he or she never watches TV because there’s nothing intelligent on.

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Well, the next time that happens, here’s a little something to throw back in that person’s face courtesy of the organization with the country’s highest IQs, American Mensa. “More television shows today are treating intelligent people better than in years past,” says Marc Lederman, Mensa board member. “When you watch shows like “CSI” or “Criminal Minds” (and hopefully the upcoming “Elementary”), you can’t help but think of the main characters as being qualified for Mensa, and that’s a good thing.”

According to Lederman, his organization has long considered television “beneficial if you watch the right shows.” Mensa members are, not surprisingly, big fans of channels like the Science and History Channels. To prove how much the group appreciates television, Mensa recently asked the members to pick what they consider the five smartest shows currently on the air, and here (in no particular order) are the results:

THE BIG BANG THEORY (Says Lederman, “This is the most talked-about TV show in American Mensa’s online community. Many people have commented they have met people in Mensa that reminds them of the characters on this show, and we’ve often wondered if the writers are potential members. And who wouldn’t want to be referred to as a real-life Sheldon Cooper?)

JEOPARDY (Lederman figures that “the general public thinks the show’s contestants are smart, and they want to be like them. Frankly, Mensa members think many of the contestants are smart. And many of our members have appeared on the show.”)

CRIMINAL MINDS (According to one Mensa member, “The smart characters are using their knowledge and reasoning powers, applying them to a new fact pattern and collaborating to solve a problem.”)

THE DAILY SHOW WITH JON STEWART (It has cutting edge satire about America, and presents it in a way that intelligent people get,” according to Lederman)

MYTHBUSTERS (Mensa members “think outside of the box, like show hosts Adam Savage and Jamie Heyneman,” says Lederman. “That’s a common trait amongst Mensans. The show features many areas of science to prove or disprove common myths. It’s that need to learn, to figure things out that brings Mensans and ‘Mythbusters’ together.”)

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Other shows, not necessarily those currently on the air, also received some votes, include:

Face Off: (“A great talent show of intelligent creativity,” says one member.)
Firefly (One respondent noted that it presented a “well-crafted and believable future that deserved a longer run than it received.”
• Star Trek/Star Trek: The Next Generation (“They tackled science and human nature more so than any other television shows,” wrote a member.)
• C-Span (No specific show, but the network itself “shows real governance as it occurs,” according to one admiring Mensa-ite.)
MacGyver (The classic action series proved to one Mensa member that “mechanical knowledge is arguably the most useful.”)
Felicity (This made the list of TV’s smartest shows because one respondent noted that “Amy Smart was in 16 episodes.”)