The answers to that question and a lot more will be coming up in the next three weeks. I promise, it’s going to be a GREAT ride. Next week’s our two hour episode and it’s moving and funny and all things Grey’s Anatomy.The thing that I find interesting about the blog (apart from those few-and-far-between moments where they actually talk about the process of writing for television), is how blurred the line between creator and fan becomes. Aside from the gag-inducing self-fandom, these posts open up the writers to the immediate feedback of their audience. (And head writer/executive producer Shonda Rhimes claims she reads all/most of the comments.)
Granted, you can argue that they're preaching to the choir. Anyone who would take the time to track down the Grey's blog and write a comment, must be a fan, right? Yes, definitely. But it's Season 3 now. The audience is invested and feels complete ownership of the characters. The show is on the brink of a season finale and a new spin-off for one of its characters. The mood on the comment board has shifted from "THAT WAS THE BEST SHOW EVER!! I LOVE YOU!!" to a more wary, often threatening tone:
"I'm trying to understand why you guys are doing this to your characters, and I'm failing miserably. I don't want to hate this how, I don't want to hate these characters, but you've given me no other choice." --R(All comments in reaction to the 4/26/07 episode "Desire")
"I can't believe that you as a writer have the heart to sacrifice this. I can't believe it. Doesn't it make your artistic soul cry?How could you sleep at night? Imagine what would have happened if Shakespeare decided to spin off Juliet after Act I. Think twice, please, before you make this big mistake of splitting them up."--SK
"What was once my life is now becoming just another show I need to remember to watch. It's absolutely heartbreaking."--Sara
"I feel like I am going to puke. Not because of the show, the show just made it worse."--McSad
While there is the illusion of openness, a dialogue between creator and consumer--how much does fan input really influence the final product? Will the writers hear their fans cries? Will they be able to appease the diehards while maintaining their own artistic integrity? Do television writers have artistic integrity? Is this what it sounds like to jump the shark? Does the expression really come from an episode of Happy Days where Fonzie jumps over a shark on water skis?
And most importantly: how much (if at all) should artists bend to the will of their fans, when the very livelihood of their work is dependant on keeping their fans happy and interested?