Who Makes It?
You can’t swing a dead cat at a ﬁlm school without hitting a lecture about how “the way we watch TV is changing.” A lot of the reasons are obvious. Streaming, YouTube, bingeing, etc. But there’s something even more important that I feel is being unfairly ignored these days: community building. Loyal readers know that I’m a diehard fan of Frasier, the greatest sitcom ever produced. And I’m a member of a Frasier meme group of Facebook, where a bunch of Gen Z sitcom junkies spend all day posting ridiculous jokes about my favorite family from Seattle. It’s a really fun place, and our shared love of this old show has sparked an entirely new online subculture. And as a result, we feel like we’re a part of something, which just makes us like the show more.
That’s the thing about art. The most successful stuff doesn’t resonate because of what it is, but because of how it makes people feel. Great music and TV shows give people a way to look at the world, a method of assigning meaning to their own lives. People develop the strongest allegiance to the art that makes them feel like part of a community. And oftentimes the community that forms, whether online or in person, is just as important to the creator’s success as the art itself. We’re living in an increasingly lonely society, but humans are always going to look for ways to arrange themselves into groups. We used to form bowling leagues and church groups, now we obsess over bands and TV shows together.
It raises a lot of questions about who is actually responsible for the pop culture that we love so dearly. Is it the guy who writes it in his living room, or the fans who watch, analyze, meme, and generally create a world that’s worth living in? I don’t have an answer, and I doubt that I ever will. But I try to think about this every time I write something new. It’s not enough for a show to be good. It has to be conducive to community building, and inspire people to bond together. That’s how you get real fans.
Creator and Community Member