The Problem With 'Fan Service' in Television

At PopMatters, Anita Felicelli discusses why TV shows get ruined when they’re written and produced with their fans in mind rather than for their own sake as pieces of creative work:

We know that television writers read fan responses on Twitter, that some of them read blogs and speculation. They know what fans want because fans are driven to respond and tell them through these media, and in turn , they may feel the need to pander to the audience. If the writers don’t fulfill fans’ desires, particularly in a season finalé, there’s a good chance these days that the audience won’t follow them to their next project.

Too often in America, fan service, not an inspiring piece of art, becomes the end goal of creative work. Fan service can produce gratifying work, sure, but catering to fans too much squelches innovation. And it may not inspire fans to create or even continue consuming a particular show at the same pace. Even though creating fan response is a major social value of creative works, fan service is a different beast. Veronica Mars (the movie) and the How I Met Your Mother series finalé offer prime examples of why focusing too literally on the satisfaction of fans’ expectations can produce fewer rewards than fans (and writers) might imagine.

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Screengrab from ‘How I Met Your Mother’