Sunday, June 23, 2013

The Power of a Fandom

My husband and I recently started watching Arrested Development, and we are finally up to season 4. For those who don't know the history of the show, let me give you a brief rundown. The show aired on the Fox network for three seasons (2003-2006), won several awards and lots of critical acclaim, and developed quite the cult following as what IGN referred to as the funniest show of all time (according to the show's Wiki--give me some credit, I am a new fan so I didn't know any of this stuff until now).

And, as is the tradition with Fox and good television shows, they decided to cancel it due to low ratings.
RIP Dollhouse, Firefly, FreakyLinks, Dark Angel, Blood Ties, Alphas, Veronica Mars, Legend of the Seeker, Dead Like Me, Stargate Atlantis, Moonlight, Jericho, Farscape, The Gates, Freaks and Geeks, Don't Trust the Bitch in Apt 23, Daria, and so many more I am probably forgetting.
I'll never understand the ratings system. Anyhoo! There's always a risk with any show on television that it will be cancelled, I suppose. Unless it is reality TV, but that's a whole different soapbox that I will jump on down the road. Having one of your favorite television shows cancelled is depressing and disheartening. I used to get really involved in fandoms, even going so far as to help head efforts to get movies made or organize a fandom-written second season (here's glaring at you, Lifetime). Those efforts never paid off, which was even more upsetting. The passion would dwindle and the old adage "Out of sight, out of mind" (or in this case, "Off our TV screens, off our minds" might be more accurate) would come into play. And soon, I would give up and move on as well.

But something has happened in the age of the internet. People, distracted by shiny new things as they might be at times, remembered. And fans stood up and said "We want more." We've seen this happen a few times over the years, as with the Firefly and Farscape movies, and with fans of Jericho able to convince the network to bring it back (seven episodes is better than nothing!).

It seems this is happening more and more. Now fans have managed to bring back Arrested Development for another season seven years after it was cancelled. Veronica Mars fans have now financially backed the movie they have been begging for since 2004, raising over 5 million dollars to make it happen. And recently I have seen that Legend of the Seeker fans are trying to get their show back. Terry Goodkind's Facebook had a nice status about it, which surprised me since I had always heard he didn't like the show (In his defense, it does stray REALLY far from the books).

So what does all of this tell us? That there is a power in fandom unlike any other. Power enough to bring about financial miracles and resurrections despite how long ago the death might have occurred. It's humbling and empowering and encouraging. And not just that the fandoms have managed to move mountains, but that the actors and producers and writers are all on board. From what I've seen so far, the full casts of Veronica Mars and Arrested Development have all returned. If you ask just about any actor from SG1 if they would come back for a movie, the answer is always a resounding "Hell yes!" Terry Goodkind is supporting efforts to resurrect a show he has the right to hate. And why? Because they are all appreciative, if not fans themselves. They understand the power of a fandom, and they respect it. Hell, I wouldn't be surprised if they were in as much awe of it as I am right now.

There's a lesson to be learned from this as writers who hope to one day gain a fandom, or who might already be building one. It doesn't matter how many books you sell. It doesn't matter how many best seller lists you make. What matters is the fans. Honor them because they are honoring you by dedicating such passion to your work.


  1. Very well written, Mara. I'm sure the fandoms will appreciate it. :)

    I know I do, as a fan of Legend Of The Seeker. Thank you for your kind and supportive words.


    1. Thanks! I'm crossing my fingers that LotS gets added to that list of resurrected shows through the power of fandom. I really loved that show!

    2. Well, we're keeping after it. According to the site we've been working with to get the show crowdfunded, we should have some news from ABC/Disney in a few weeks as to whether they'll green-light us going forward to collect funding. So, I'm keeping my fingers crossed as well. :)