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My Summer Lair featuring Michael Sparaga (United We Fan)

My Summer Lair featuring Michael Sparaga (United We Fan)

Sammy Younan

Published on: April 24 2018

My Summer Lair Chapter #79: If You Could Save Any TV Show…Which Would You Save?

Over the course of this My Summer Lair visit, United We Fan director Michael Sparaga shares the following:

“I really want people to walk away from this [documentary] to really think to themselves about the way they connect with art – the way they identify with art. Why something is important to them and what they might do to save it.”

So while United We Fan is about TV shows and TV show fandoms, and how those fandoms attempt to save shows from cancellation, that’s all just the Trojan horse.

We’ve accepted the narrative that TV is a passive medium; the boob tube and all that. And while there is some truth to that, the other often overlooked TV certainty is: TV shows create communities.

Star Trek is a prime example, while in many ways an outlier. Not many shows can fund alternative industries: from merch to books to movies and much more. The cons alone! Star Trek is an industry.

Over the course of this hour Michael and I explore the broad term of TV-watching, and how fandom communities are formed. Representation…I bring up the recent crisis playing out on Twitter as we speak in regards to Apu and The Simpsons.

None of this is easy or straightforward: the creators of a TV show are not under any obligation to take notes from the audience; they were hired to tell the story they wanted to tell. Can you imagine people on Twitter trying to give Stephen King notes on how to make his novel better?!

And networks and studios, well… They don’t always care about quality: they are running a business and their focus can often be the bottom line, which creates a tension between viewers and creators.

These agendas compete and clash. I’m constantly amazed we even have quality considering the conditions to make an amazing TV show (or movie!) are so difficult, what with so many people involved. You want to write a novel, you sit down and bang it out, and done. You want to make a TV show, you have to deal with all these voices and expectations and hopes and dreams and budgets…the struggles are endless.

And it all goes back to Michael’s quote…what do we want to see and what we are willing to save?

Quality is the most important factor for me — more than optics and representation, etc., you name it. Quality is so rare and so precious, I cling to it like a Titanic survivour in the ocean on a piece of driftwood.

Because of that complex reality, I found this documentary so compelling, and I highly recommend it. It had its World Premiere at Hot Docs 2018 and hopefully it will get picked up and end up having a few more screenings, and find a brave and bold life on a streaming service near you…so you can watch it on TV!

The debates have only just begun!

 Host Sammy Younan W • T • F

United We Fan @ W • T • F

Recorded: April 16, 2018 6pm (EST)