Dear writers of television shows with active fandoms
You are thrilled, I know, to look around and realize that people on the internet love your show so much that they’ve built community around it. You are thrilled, I know, to see your work have that much influence.
But you are mystified, it seems, as to the types of activities these fans engage in. You must be mystified, since you repeatedly fall back on lazy and tired cliches of pseudo goth girls and introverted socially awkward girls who are always, always slash fans.
I’m here to tell you: that’s not all there is to fandom and fanworks. Trust me, I’m pretty well versed in fan culture and fan practices. I’ve been a member of one fandom or another for pretty much as long as I can remember. I grew up a second generation Star Trek fan. I recently won an Emmy for my work on The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, a webseries that saw an incredibly rich, diverse, and creative fandom grow up around it.
So I see these lazy, tired, boring portrayals of fandom on your shows, and I just know you can do better. I want to help you do better.
To that end, I am compiling for you a list of possible variations of fans and fanworks you could feature the next time decide you need a meta-reference to your show’s fandom in your show. I hope other people will add onto this list, so you can have as many options as possible.
Next time you’re tempted to default to the tired cliche of awkward-female-slash-fan, why not try one of these types of fans instead?
a cool DJ who hosts a theme night and spins records he or she feels capture the essence of your show
a group of friends who plan all year to cosplay as the ensemble of your show, meticulously picking out costume details and matching physical types to the available characters (or casting against type for fun!)
a young girl who creates a board game based on your show, working on it each day after school
an aspiring baker who designs cookies and cupcakes around themes, events, or characters on your show
a budding director who invests all her time and money into creating a loving fan film, or even parody, of your show
a fanzine writer who couch surfs across the country, staying with friends she’s met through fandom
a bored film school student who sneaks into his school’s computer labs to edit together fanvids retelling his favorite moments or storylines of your show (or mixing them up and turning your comedy into horror, your soapy drama into a thriller)
a grad student who loves your show so much he changed his major to study the thing your characters do
a mom who bonds with her children by telling them made up further adventures of your main characters
I’ve only barely scratched the surface of possibilities here. Bookmark it for reference! And hopefully fans will add more ideas as we think of them.