In The Future, How Will TV Shows Court Fans?

I sat in on a bit of Alan Sepinwall’s interview with Cougar Town co-creator Kevin Biegel, and I’m particularly intrigued by the idea that what the small, scrappy shows are doing to fight for audiences will be what everyone has to do in the future:

TV now doesn’t just exist from the writers room to the television. People like to be engaged. People like to know that you care about them caring. I really believe that…If I can do these little events and people actually respond to it and feel like they’re getting something special, I think that’s awesome. And I don’t understand why other TV shows don’t do this. And I literally think – I don’t care if I get in trouble; fuck it – there’s a laziness on the part of a lot of TV writers, where they think, “My job is just to write the show and produce the show and that’s it.” Bill and I are on the same page: “Fuck that. That’s not true. Your job now is to go out there and sell the show and tell the fans how much you appreciate them.” Because one little spark – like Katniss in “Catching Fire,” book 2 – can really start a whole big thing…What’s the alternative? I sit on my own in the writers room and the show goes away? That’s so lame! That’s so defeatist! That’s so 1980s, “Okay, we’ll just write a shitty sitcom, and people will like that.” Fuck that! That’s not the world anymore.

In the ABC executive session yesterday, Paul Lee joked that he loves Cougar Town‘s Bill Lawrence because he’s a “pirate,” when it comes to roguishly and independently promoting his shows and “I used to be a pirate when I was a showrunner and now I’m the Navy.” I think the interesting question will be whether all shows, hits and scrappy underdogs alike, have to do this, or whether the willingness of creative folks like Lawrence, and Biegel, and Dan Harmon on Community to fight for their shows mean networks will simply be willing to do less work to support them.