Friday Happy Hour: Could A TV Show Written Entirely By Fans Work?

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Jason's out this week, so we called in a worthy substitute to whip up this week's Friday Happy Hour. Below is a series of unrelated questions meant to spark conversation in the comments. Answer one, answer all, respond to someone else’s reply, whatever you want. Very casual. On to this week’s topics of discussion. Take it away, Brett!

1. My favorite scene from an episode of Parks and Recreation a few weeks back was when Ben started reading his Star Trek: The Next Generation fanfic to April when they were stuck in his car waiting for the president's motorcade to pass. Passionate fans of anything these days long for direct involvement in nearly all aspects of popular culture.

The scene got me wondering whether a certain method of composite creative writing could succeed on the screen. With the rise of social media, the popularity of fanfic, the prevalence of crowd-sourcing, and a free-floating desire for personal participation in modern culture, do you think that a television show written entirely by fans could work? What is the farthest possible extension of fan engagement?

Social media is believed to have helped reshape the show Lost to better suit/please its obsequious fan base (or to deliberately anger it, depending on your point of view). And if rubbish shows lazily extrapolated from Twitter, like $#*! My Dad Says, are permitted to appear on television, how long before someone just turns the writing process entirely over to the viewers?

How would you envision this theoretical process working? Would producers set the premise of the show, and establish the characters, and allow the fans to send in snippets dialogue? Whoever is running the show could pick whichever submissions worked best to compile the script of an episode, creating a montage of the best crowd-sourced writing to formulate a coherent narrative. Would this ever work? Is it only a matter of time before it happens? Could it only last for a short while before it devolved into a nonsensical disaster of nonlinear confusion? What do you think? I think it would be an interesting experiment. Kind of like Immersive Theater on TV.

2. Is there any sport you wish you had played when you were younger, but for whatever reason never did? For you non-sports people—is there an activity you wish you had taken up? Would you like to have played a certain instrument? Learned ballet? Taken up bottle-cap collecting?

3. The other day I heard the Weezer song "Say It Ain't So." I've probably heard this song, maybe, 100 times in my life at this point, give or take a few listens. No matter how many times I hear it, however, whenever it gets to the line "This bottle of Stevens awakens ancient feelings..." in my head I expect him to say "awakens ancient demons." I don't know why this happens. I know he says "feelings," because I've heard the song so many times and it's inarguable what he says, but for whatever reason my mind wants him to be saying "demons." Does this ever happen to you? Are there any song lyrics you'd like to alter in order to make them sound different, or change their meaning?

4. Last week's New Yorker cover was typically genius. As both a commentary on President Obama's perceived no-show at the first presidential debate, and a reference to Clint Eastwood's now-infamous performance at the GOP convention in Tampa, it works brilliantly. If you had to compare yourself to an inanimate object, what would you choose, and why?

See all the previous Friday Happy Hour transcripts.