Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Illustration for article titled The HBO Recycling Program: An interactive web of actors and the premium-cable network that consistently employs them

In June 2011, Grantland’s Andy Greenwald first wrote of what he termed “The HBO Recycling Program,” the phenomenon of watching an HBO show, recognizing one of the actors onscreen, agonizing over why you recognize the actor, then pulling up the actor’s IMDB page to realize you recognize him or her from another HBO show. Acknowledging that people who watch enough HBO to identify J.D. Williams in a single sneer probably don’t have enough time to read an entire online essay about doing so, Greenwald’s piece was also accompanied by an infographic illustrating the premium cable outlet’s tendency to showcase the same actors again and again. Unfortunately, the thing is denser and more difficult parse than a corkboard diagram of the Barksdale Organization (where you’d also find Williams’ mug). Enter computer geek Zack Grossbart, who, with the help of JavaScript, has created a clickable, simplified means of determining which thespian has appeared on both Deadwood and Eastbound And Down. (Answer: John “Sol Star/Dustin Powers” Hawkes.) The Wire has the most repeat offenders in the HBO stable; not surprising, considering how Greenwald’s essay reads almost like a David Simon treatise on the difficulties of breaking cycles formed by years of repeated behaviors.


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