Let's Discuss: Whether Pleasing Fans Is A Priority

“You can’t please everyone” is an old adage that rings with unquestionable truth. In the entertainment arena, it is an edict that seemingly absolves creative powers from the responsibility of pleasing fans. There will always be unpopular decisions that send out reactionary shockwaves, and there is no keener an example of this than the vocal supporters of Daytime soaps. With the constant threat of cancellation looming overhead, there should be more pressure than ever to please.

There are only 4 soaps left, and in that microcosm, you can see a host of issues that extend far past Daytime. As a new day dawns and social media becomes an ever-present reality for promoting TV, movies, and music, it also creates a chance for the captains of the creative ship to change course amidst an ill-received storyline. 
The response to utilizing social media to make on-screen changes has been muddled. The decisive argument seems to be “who better than the passionate fans who spend their time tweeting, Facebooking or writing posts on message boards, to bring awareness to a storyline lemon?”
Then there’s the counter argument “those are a small but vocal percentage of fans, and they cannot be used to gauge the overall reception to storylines.”

Keeping this in mind, let’s head over to “Days.” NBC’s sole surviving soap is hitting a transitional period. Series stars Alison Sweeney and James Scott who play fan favorites Sami and EJ, respectively, are leaving the show. As “EJami” they are one of the show’s most popular pairings, and fans have rallied for them to be together for 7 years.

Given the announcement of their impending exit, fans justifiably expected a happily-ever-after for their favorite couple. Well, that does not seem likely at this point. In a highly controversial storyline, EJ cheated on Sami with college student, Abby Deveraux, setting both Sami and the fans ablaze.

Why, in the closing chapter of the duo’s run, would the show want to destroy them? Why weren’t the fans heard? It’s a puzzling quagmire that offers no logical answers. Over on “General Hospital” Robin Scorpio has gone from the show’s moral center to a deadbeat mom whose willingly ran out on her family to save a sociopath.

The writers had to write off the character due to her portrayer, Kimberly McCullough, leaving the show. Was it necessary to damage the character of Robin, in the process though? No. Meanwhile, “The Bold and the Beautiful” remains transfixed on the frustrating Liam/Hope/Wyatt triangle, which has hopefully met its end.

With soaps, there is always hope that things will turn around. GH's awful Carly/Franco pairing is finally reaching its end. The fans were listened to, and GH can respond to them reasonably quickly, as there is about a month's lead time between filming and the airdate. "Days of Our Lives" has a far longer gap in between.

As the soap genre's fate hangs in the balance, it's imperative to remember that sticking it out, will often prove rewarding.

What is happening in Daytime reverberates to Primetime. Their worlds are separated by a thin veil of perception because whether airing day or night; the desire among fans for a quality series is the same. Democracy is not the standard operating procedure for series or movies.

Viewers only get to vote when they change the channel or don’t purchase a ticket. The bottom line is without fans these endeavors wouldn't exist.

Finding the balance between fan vocalization and the creative vision of Showrunners is a tricky tightrope to walk. Obviously, a show by committee is not the answer. As cable and direct streaming series become more prominent, the ability for fans to express their desires and for there to be an on-screen response will be next to impossible.

Like movies, the product will have to be commented on after the fact. In spite of recent fan protestations (i.e., Batfleck) studios have gone forward in the face of sweltering backlashes from fans. Similar to last year’s “Fiery TV Finale Debate,” the question of fan power remains crucial in the ever-evolving playing field of social media.

Its power cannot be acknowledged for saving shows (“Beauty and the Beast”) and then ignored when there’s an outcry. “You can’t please everyone” but is it possible to get a little closer?

[Featured Image by ABC]

2 comments

  1. Interesting thoughts, why bother destroying the integrity of the character when the actor chooses to leave? Spite that their cashcow abandoned them? So we'd be relieved when they finally left our screens and not beg for their return?

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    1. Thanks for leaving a comment Kiren. You ask some great questions. It seems to be standard operating procedure to destroy a character before they exit. In my opinion, the hope is that by doing this, fans will not miss them when they leave and be more open to embracing a new character that will fill the void. Recently, a popular character was killed off a series in its final season and the actor mentioned in his exit interview that the purpose was so fans could root for his character’s girlfriend to get back together with her ex without holding it against her for breaking his heart. As a viewer, this manipulation failed to succeed. Assuming fans are sheeple is a mistake that is too commonly made and leads to poor decisions. They can see through it. - Britt

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