Not all shows are live-tweeted (tweeting along with a show as it airs live), a big fan passion needs to be involved. Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead are probably some of the most prominent but it spans network television, cable TV, and streaming projects.
When the live-tweeting trend began (and before the mute feature was in use) I wound up unfollowing a lot of folks because I was annoyed at getting spoiled just by glancing at Twitter. If you don't watch live you're just out of luck if you wanted to use Twitter during those times of day. I've said many times Twitter and users might benefit from live-tweet chatrooms (just think of the advertising Twitter could do there) for the more popular shows, but muting has certainly cut down the chatter for those of us who don't want to (or can't) get involved while a show is on.
Some creators and actors live-tweet along with fans (hey, Bryan Fuller!) in order to engage with their viewers but some don't and have recently admitted why.
The Hollywood Reporter posted a piece in which they say they “surveyed a number of this year's top showrunners about their new series, making content in 2016 and the state of broadcast TV.” They asked them to finish the sentence “Live tweeting is…”
David Guggenheim from ABC”s Designated Survivor replied simply, “Boring to me.” Ok, fair enough. Shawn Ryan of NBC's Timeless said, “A form of hubris that probably reaches fewer people than you think (unless you're Shonda Rhimes), but that allows you to connect with your most passionate fans.” Huh. Good and bad there.
While many like to understate the power of social media (or they simply don't understand it), fan engagement is becoming an increasingly important and powerful thing. There were a few showrunners who just don't like live-tweeting but understood it. For instance Chris Harris of CBS' The Great Indoors who responded to the survey with, “Something I”ll never understand, since I watch TV in order to AVOID reading. But if they tell us it”s good for the show, then we”ll do it.” And the more positive Mark Goffman from CBS' Bull who said “A great place to connect with fans, share behind-the-scenes details, and find out all the things I'm doing wrong.”
The “small screen vets” also included Jeremy Slater from new Fox series The Exorcist. His answer wound up being a bit more contentious than the rest:
A garbage idea perpetuated by garbage people. Watch the show, enjoy the show. Twitter will still be there when you finish. “Unless my employers demand that I live tweet future episodes, in which case live tweeting is a grand idea and everyone should follow @jerslater.”
While the comments as a whole ruffled more than a few fan feathers, Slater's comment left perhaps the worst impression. Jamie Broadnax, creator of Black Girl Nerds was one fan who took issue with being called a “garbage” person and after discussing the issue on Twitter with many others, Slater posted this:
– Jeremy Slater (@jerslater) September 22, 2016
Slater had asked those who took issue with his words to show love for John Goodman in an attempt to prove to him Twitter was “good” but I'm sure he's done some lasting damage here. He also said THR's question was actually more specific than they led on, about showrunners themselves live-tweeting, not fans, which is something he still thinks is garbage.
“I accept the apology. Takes a big man to know when he's wrong,” wrote Broadnax on twitter. “Never disrespect your fanbase,” she added in a short video message “Never disrespect your fellow peers in the same industry that you are working in.”
It does seem like a pretty bad PR move to talk so negatively about something fans love, not to mention the professional and marketing aspect. I wouldn't normally give commenters a spotlight but “suzyque” made a good point on the THR piece writing, “Wow, most of those comments on live-tweeting are disappointing. What kind of showrunner would turn their nose up at free promotion and basically the ONLY reason anyone still watches a show live (complete with ads)?! If anyone should be championing live-tweeting, it should be broadcast showrunners whose business model is getting killed by online streaming.”
THR themselves were criticized for not including any Black showrunners in their piece by ReBecca Theodore-Vachon (and others who commented on overall diversity issues there) writing, “Cheo Coker (Luke Cage), Prentice Penny (Insecure) or Ava DuVernay?”
DuVernay's OWN series Queen Sugar has been getting a lot of social media love through the hashtag #GimmeSugar (live-tweeting or otherwise) but the monolith-like participants in the THR survey reminds us of Hollywood's diversity issues at large and that social media is an important place for those who feel underrepresented to finally have a voice and be heard.