January 10, 2013

How Our Favorite TV Shows Use the Internet, Social Media to Spur Fandom


How I Met Your Mother, The Walking Dead and Girls – they may all come from different networks, but these favorite shows of ours all have one thing in common: they leverage the Internet to create a unique fan culture. Remember the Sex and the City episode where Carrie sends Aiden an e-mail and then asks Miranda if that means he can see her? (Of course you do) While this was a hilarious bit at the time and even more so today, it’s almost unfathomable to think that we actually once came from such a primal place. Today’s big hits have seriously stepped up their game to present new and innovative ways for fans to watch and enjoy.

I have to admit, it’s not just my undying love for How I Met Your Mother that makes it top this list, but rather its sheer brilliance in providing viewers an in-depth, interactive feel that goes beyond the TV screen every Monday night. It’s most appealing aspect is the fact that almost every single website mentioned in the show actually exists – and in great detail. Whether these were the doing of awesome fans or marketing ploys remains to be seen, but it’s such a treat when you find out about this underground secret. It really makes you feel like all the more of a true fan.

Let’s take a look at some of the best ones:

  • After Barney goes home with a girl pretending to be Ted, the crazed girl says that he’s a jerk, thus creating the originally titled website, Tedmosbyisajerk.com.
  • After Ted is abandoned at the altar by Stella (Sarah Chalke), for her ex, Tony, he writes a creative screenplay for a movie called “The Wedding Bride,” which Ted has to endure watching in the movies. The show’s staff came up with this beauty – an actual movie website complete with reviews called Weddingbridemovie.com.
  • In one episode, Barney credits a website called CanadianSexActs.org for all of his expertise in romance, which then lent out to this parody site, which although has an age restriction, is nothing more than pictures of Canadian actor Alan Thicke (who Robin worked with as a former Canadian pop star). My favorite is the Salty Prime Minister.

How I Met Your Mother recently wrapped up its eighth season, and its ninth season was renewed on December 21, 2012.

Next up is the apocalypse drama The Walking Dead, which although doesn’t use as funny of tactics, boasts a pretty cool interactive feature that allows viewers to take quizzes, enter polls and more in real-time while watching the show on any Internet-connected device. It’s kind of like watching HBO Go with its interactive features, but even a little cooler. For example, when watching the mid-season finale and logged in, I was able to re-live fight scenes, take polls on whether I liked certain decisions made by leading characters, and comment on what I thought would happen next.

Even more, there’s a Walking Dead Google Map that allows viewers to track exactly what has happened in the show and where. It serves as a complete annotated map of appearances, death, events and locations from Robert Kirkman’s zombie comic book series, The Walking Dead, of which the AMC hit is based off of.

 The Walking Dead returns for the second half of its third season on Sunday, February 10.

HBO’s new hit series Girls has taken the Internet by storm. It literally leverages social media for almost every aspect of the show, where it started a phenomenon with its now famous Twitter hashtag #MistakesGIRLSMake, introduced in the pilot episode. Now, the show is promoting its more recent addition, #ResolutionsGIRLSBreak.

There are tons of free promotions for the show, such as a recent promotion for fans to get free blowouts by a hair salon in celebration of its upcoming season premiere. Right now, the show is promoting yet another contest via Twitter, where fans tweet pictures or Instagram “selfies,” a.k.a. pictures of themselves in their current apartment for the chance to win free rent for a year and an urban outfitters apartment makeover. I’m not going to lie, this sounds like a poor, artsy, misunderstood girl’s version of heaven, and then some.

Girls returns for its second season this Sunday on HBO.

There are just a few examples of how the Internet is completely taking over television – in a good way.




Edited by Jamie Epstein



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