How the power of fans revived the hit police sitcom…
In the modern age, the success of a show is so much more than just the official ratings. It’s the engagement on social media that builds the popularity and discourse surrounding a show. ‘Fandoms’ have often been dismissed as teenage hysteria, when the focus should be on building a reliable fandom with passionate and dedicated viewers. As the use of social media grows, the platforms created for dedicated fans has increased. Twitter, Tumblr, and a multitude of fanfiction outlets have increased fandom culture. Take the Harry Potter fandom, which has an incredibly diverse and loyal fanbase that keeps the franchise relevant decades after the first book was published. Marketing has been geared towards fans instead of viewers and marketing strategies are increasingly incorporating social media platforms. The importance of fan interaction can be seen in the instances when fan outcry has caused a show to be renewed after cancellation. It is arguable that no other show cancellation has caused as much controversy as Brooklyn Nine-Nine.
Brooklyn Nine-Nine is an American police sitcom created by Dan Goor and Michael Schur, the producers behind Parks and Recreation and The Office (US). The series follows the police detectives of Brooklyn’s 99th Precinct. Jake Peralta (Andy Samberg) is one of the best detectives in the precinct but his immature ways find him frequently in conflict with his commanding officer Captain Raymond Holt (Andre Braugher). The ensemble includes Rosa Diaz (Stephanie Beatriz), Terry Jeffords (Terry Crews), Amy Santiago (Melissa Fumero), Charles Boyle (Joe Lo Truglio), Gina Linetti (Chelsea Peretti), Michael Hitchcock (Dirk Blocker) and Norm Scully (Joel McKinnon).
The show has received generally favourable reviews and has been praised for its diverse cast and for tackling serious topics such as homophobia and racism with humour and sensitivity. With a 97% rating on review-aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes, it was a shock to fans when Fox revealed that the comedy was not being picked up for another season. Fans immediately took to social media to start a campaign to save the show.
In less than 48 hours after being cancelled, the show was revived and picked up by NBC – who had originally sold the rights to the show to Fox before it aired in 2013. This quick turnaround left fans rejoicing and left many question Fox’s decision: why would Fox choose to cancel Brooklyn Nine-Nine when the show was doing so well and had such a loyal fan base? Fox have since explained their decision in a press conference stating that Brooklyn Nine-Nine has “a phenomenal cast” but “ultimately felt like we didn’t have the exact right place to schedule it this year. It performed best in our Sunday night lineup. We wanted to give Bob’s Burgers an opportunity to have a plum time period and really grow.”
Whilst some have argued the cancellation and renewal of the show could have been an elaborate, pre-planned stunt between Fox and NBC, due to its surprisingly fast resolve. It is undeniable that the fans of the show had a profound impact on the shows future. Through social media, Brooklyn Nine-Nine was trending, and the news of the cancellation sparked thousands of outraged tweets and gifs. The cast were overwhelmed by an influx of support from loyal viewers, which highlights just how important having a loyal fanbase is to a show. Besides the obvious point of bringing in views, fanbases offer a level of intricacy to the structure of television. Creating Twitter tags like #SaveB99 and creating online petitions for other networks to pick up the TV show, brought a level of media attention that only increased traction for the show as fans eagerly await the sixth season.
Summarised by NBC’s head of entertainment, Robert Greenblatt states, “…we’re all thrilled that one of the smartest, funniest and best cast comedies in a long time will take its place in our comedy line-up. I think I speak for everyone when I say, here’s to the Nine-Nine!”
Images: Vox, Fortune, Vulture