Inmates Running the Asylum? Fans and the Showrunner Relationship (In My Opinion)


Welcome back to the randomness. What is on deck today?

Showrunners and the fans that love them. 

That sounds creepy but I have been thinking about how easy it is for fans to give real time feedback to the showrunners of their favorite show. I have been around fandom land for quite a long time (Ok. I will admit it…I am old).  I have seen how that relationship has evolved from message boards to every social media platform imaginable. I can remember a time where you would have to physical write in to get the attention of a showrunner or the networks interns.

Things seem like they have changed but they have really stayed the same.

We now have an instant connection to the actors, crew and showrunners through social media. In my experience, having that ability to read how the cast, crew, writers and showrunners approached a scene or plot point in a show is fun. It is a bit like nerd porn for us television and writer lovers.

There is a dark side however. It has been well documented. Fans losing their minds and going after showrunners and actors. Showrunners losing it and fighting back and in the process themselves looking and making the show they represent look bad. For instance, when a “fan” that constantly took shots at Community creator and showrunner Dan Harmon he took the fans name and put it into show as someone who the main character dumps to do a bottle episode. While I found that funny. It was not very professional.

This has been discussed so many places. How close is the showrunner to the fan base and is that a good idea?

Many people have used showrunners to answer that question. I want a fans perspective. So, I looked into the fandoms I am involved in. My point of view.

The craziest fandom I think I am apart of right now is the Young and Restless fandom.  This is more one sided than anything else. One thing CBS is good at is social media.

Many fans have campaigns to tweet all facets of CBS daytime social media accounts with whatever they are unhappy with, which is fine. It is ok to be unhappy about a storyline or a character acting out of character. The extent of these tweets has become angry and slightly threatening. Yes, the show has extremely questionable storylines on screen right now but being rude or even attacking showrunners will not get anyone anywhere. In fact, in an article showrunner Shonda Rhimes said that the instant reaction to storylines is great but the audiences input on what happens next does not affect the story.

(Let me say the main people I talk to about Young and the Restless do not act like the crazies. I only surround myself with smart thoughtful people.)

That quote reminds me of how Matt Weiner, creator and showrunner of Mad Men, would love to hear what fans were thinking but made sure to tell them that all their opinions or reactions don’t change how he wanted to write his story. He appreciates the fans but those fans are not running his show.

While that is the craziest, I have been a part of fandoms that are somewhat healthy in nature. That would have to be The Blacklist and Elementary fandom. I have noticed that the showrunners, John Eisendrath and Rob Doherty, are friendly and play along with the fans but draw a fine line when it comes to talking about future storylines or getting involved in fandom drama.  The Elementary and Blacklist fandoms are not drama ridden but little flair ups happen. I noticed the showrunners do not engage in the negative and stay with the positive, which has given the fandom a reason to stay drama free. I truly appreciate that.

Then again, the positive showrunners might be using fans to measure how their stories are coming across to the highly involved audience. Like how some showrunners use fan reaction as a dial test in a non-experimental setting. To see what can be improved down the line for other seasons.

Which leads me to my final assessment. That delicate relationship that makes or breaks television shows is not as one sided as other articles make people think it is. Both sides are needed to make this relationship work. Both have to be less critical and more open to hearing what each other has to say. This idea may work better with cable, streaming or paid television show than network (network shows have a lot more to answer to than just fans).

What I guess I am getting at is, from my experience, having that outlet of hearing about a world I only dream of working in, is fun. However, if I, as a fan, do not abuse that outlet that delicate relationship will remain intact. It goes for the other side as well.

I am sure as social media evolves and new platforms emerge that relationship between fans and showrunners will grow stronger, it is really up to all of us to make it a positive growth instead of a negative one.

I really want to hear some thoughts on his topic. Do you agree with me or do you want to throw flaming arrows at my head? Write your thoughts down below or just shoot over to my twitter. Either way the randomness has ended. I hope you enjoyed the ride.


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