The Best Episodes of How the States Got Their Shapes

Last Updated: Nov 5, 2018

We are so familiar with the map of United States, but do we know why our states look the way they do? Every shape on the map tells a great story about our past. This special examines how every state is a puzzle piece ultimately revealing the unique... geography, political and social history of America.

Hatfields vs. McCoys

#1 - Hatfields vs. McCoys

Season 2 - Episode 4

America's most iconic rivalry was more than just a feud between families. The fight between the Hatfields and McCoys nearly launched a war between two states.

star 8.75
4 votes
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North vs. South

#2 - North vs. South

Season 2 - Episode 5

It's America's original rivalry, a divide that was so wide it took a war to close the gap. But have we really reunited, or are we still fighting a culture war?

star 8.67
3 votes
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Mess with Texas

#3 - Mess with Texas

Season 2 - Episode 15

Everything is bigger in Texas. It's the only state that acts like a country, but has it grown too big for its britches? We'll mess with Texas to settle this ten-gallon rivalry.

star 8.67
3 votes
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East vs. West

#4 - East vs. West

Season 2 - Episode 13

The squabble between east coast and west coast leaves the rest of the country stuck in the middle. It's a rivalry that has made its way into our popular culture, but is there any common ground in this continental tug of war?

star 8.67
3 votes
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Battle of the Bible Belt

#5 - Battle of the Bible Belt

Season 2 - Episode 8

With 85% of Americans affiliated with an organized religion, we're a nation of believers, but have we always practiced what we preached?

star 8.67
3 votes
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Rich vs. Poor

#6 - Rich vs. Poor

Season 2 - Episode 17

Money makes the world go 'round and in America, the pursuit of fortune and riches has shaped our states. Some states have built enormous economies on resources like gold, oil, or timber, but they first had to draw their borders around all the riches in order to stake a claim. In the race to grab up all the country's treasures, which states were the slowest on the uptake, and which came out on top?

star 8.67
3 votes
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Red State vs. Blue State

#7 - Red State vs. Blue State

Season 2 - Episode 1

It's a rivalry that tears us apart every four years, but how did our nation divide into red states vs. blue states, and what happens to the states caught in the middle?

star 8.40
5 votes
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Big vs. Small

#8 - Big vs. Small

Season 2 - Episode 18

Does size matter when you're a state? While the giants like to throw their weight around, there are some scrappy underdogs that have made their mark on the map.

star 8.33
3 votes
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Is West Best?

#9 - Is West Best?

Season 2 - Episode 11

Americans have been racing to tame the West since they first set foot on the continent, but now that the West has been won, what's next? Is the West still the best.

star 8.33
3 votes
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City vs. Country

#10 - City vs. Country

Season 2 - Episode 12

In the battle between city and country, it looks like the city is coming out ahead in population, but is there something about the country that all the city slickers are missing? And how has the move from rural to urban changed the shapes of our states and cities?

star 8.33
3 votes
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The United Shapes of America

#11 - The United Shapes of America

Season 2 - Episode 19

After three years on the road, host Brian Unger is taking a different look at just how our states got their shapes. We'll hear about the unique American values that have made this country what it is today, and travel from coast to coast and everywhere in between. Along the way, Brian reveals that just as we shaped the map, it has shaped us.

star 8.33
3 votes
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Rebels & Outlaws

#12 - Rebels & Outlaws

Season 2 - Episode 14

We may be a law-abiding nation but we also admire the outlaw, and the clash between rebels and the rules has shaped our states. Which states like to make their own rules, and which do the heat have on lockdown?

star 8.33
3 votes
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State vs. State

#13 - State vs. State

Season 2 - Episode 16

We're the United States, but sometimes, it's every state for itself. Nearly every state has pulled a power play that gamed the system and changed the map. How much can you get away with when it's state vs. state?

star 8.33
3 votes
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Mouthing Off

#14 - Mouthing Off

Season 1 - Episode 10

We all live in the same country, so why do we sound do different? It's a matter of where you are on the map. Why didn't the southern accent exist until after the Civil War? How did California athletes end up coining so many new words? Why do we have so many different words for the same things -- like pop versus soda? Will one particularly strong accent cause New York to break up and create a 51st state?

star 8.00
9 votes
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Living On The Edge

#15 - Living On The Edge

Season 1 - Episode 5

Mysterious or fringe areas and how they shaped the states are examined. States include Nevada; Florida; Missouri; and Georgia.

star 8.00
11 votes
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Hillbilly vs. Redneck

#16 - Hillbilly vs. Redneck

Season 2 - Episode 3

Two underdogs of American culture go head to head to prove how hillbillies and rednecks have shaped our states.

star 8.00
4 votes
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White Collar vs. Blue Collar

#17 - White Collar vs. Blue Collar

Season 2 - Episode 2

Deep in the Rust Belt the white collar and blue collar divide has shaped our cities and our states. How did this rivalry change the way we all bring home the bacon?

star 8.00
4 votes
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The Great Plains, Trains and Automobiles

#18 - The Great Plains, Trains and Automobiles

Season 1 - Episode 2

The history of transportation is hidden in the lines of the map. From canals to trains and cars, how did getting around help draw the American map? Could Chicago have been in Wisconsin? Why are states out West or so big and boxy? And why did we almost had a state called Forgottonia?

star 7.74
19 votes
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Vice vs. Virtue

#19 - Vice vs. Virtue

Season 2 - Episode 9

Americans have a lot of vices and they don't just stay in Vegas. From drugs to gambling, the state you live in may shape how bad you can be.

star 7.50
2 votes
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Bigfoot vs. Aliens

#20 - Bigfoot vs. Aliens

Season 2 - Episode 6

America is a nation under siege by unexplained phenomena. Whether you're afraid of Bigfoot or alien invasion might depend on what state you call home.

star 7.50
2 votes
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Great Lakes, Big Stakes

#21 - Great Lakes, Big Stakes

Season 2 - Episode 7

Battles over access to lakefront property have made the Great Lakes region the most contested land on the entire map, and even pushed the states to a border war.

star 7.50
2 votes
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Church and States

#22 - Church and States

Season 1 - Episode 7

The influence of religion is considered. States include Utah; and Kansas; and New England states.

star 7.50
8 votes
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State of Rebellion

#23 - State of Rebellion

Season 1 - Episode 4

How did the most rebellious states took shape? How did they earn their outsized features and outspoken reputations. For instance, why does Montana looks like it took a bite out of Idaho? Why wasn't Texas broken up into five states? And why exactly do we have not one but two Carolinas?

star 7.46
9 votes
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Culture Clash

#24 - Culture Clash

Season 1 - Episode 9

Conflict can sometimes arise between different cultures that share the same state. Find out how culture clashes all over the country have shaped our map.

star 7.40
10 votes
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Midwest vs. The Rest

#25 - Midwest vs. The Rest

Season 2 - Episode 10

It's the glue that holds our map together and feeds America, but the Midwest is more than just state fairs and flyover country.

star 7.00
2 votes
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