How the States Got Their Shapes

TV review by
Matt Springer, Common Sense Media
How the States Got Their Shapes TV Poster Image
Upbeat study of state boundaries encourages curiosity.

Parents say

age 14+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

age 7+
Based on 3 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

The show encourages curiosity about the history of the United States and the many stories surrounding its formation and growth as a country.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The host and historical experts provide positive examples by demonstrating passion and interest for the cultural past of the United States.


Rare language of the "crap," "damn," and "hell" variety.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this hour-long series, which explores the history of the United States from a unique standpoint, encourages curiosity about the country's origins. There is very occasional language ("crap," "hell," "damn"). While the show's content may only be of interest to older kids, it is generally appropriate for younger children as well.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bybaypoint April 25, 2015

Be Aware - Season 2 - Talk about SEX in Certain Episodes

For the most part we like this show, you can really learn a lot. Season one was pretty good and safe to watch.

Season 2 - Episode 8 - Battle of the Bible Bel... Continue reading
Adult Written byRobyn79 February 7, 2020

Mentions too much sex!

This show is being shown in my 5th graders classroom. I do not feel that at least the one episode I saw was classroom appropriate and if that episode was that w... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byTARDIS Tourist December 28, 2015
Teen, 14 years old Written byAuboisAcadiaStudios September 5, 2011

great for history loving kids

it's a good show, best for older kids who love history/geography though.

What's the story?

The big, bold strokes of American history are common knowledge from grade school history classes. HOW THE STATES GOT THEIR SHAPES dives deeper into the country's rich story to spotlight the unique combination of people, events, and nature that created the boundaries of the 50 states. On-the-street interviews, computer graphics, and visits to historical locations keep the show fast-paced and light.

Is it any good?

Did you know there's a restaurant where the border between Tennessee and Georgia cuts through the building? You can eat in one state and use the bathroom in another.

These are the kind of stories host Brian Unger shares on How The States Got Their Shapes. It's amazing how many fascinating tidbits there are to be found in how each US state came to rest within its current boundaries. While the show doesn't innovate (if you've seen one History Channel show, you're familiar with the format ), the use of computer-generated illustrations and on-the-street interviews keeps things moving. Unger is an amiable and eager host, willing to try almost anything -- he spends part of one episode being attacked by Asian carp in Illinois and gets the laughs and scars to prove it. There's plenty of material to explore in regional American history, and this series explores it well.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the tools the show uses to depict history and state borders. Does the show's style help communicate the history?

  • What did you learn about America that you didn't know before seeing the show?

TV details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love travel and history

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