Monday, September 22, 2008

On TV's Fictional Characters Twittering

Following is a slight rewrite of my comment appearing below a blog post about twittering TV's Emmy-winning drama, Mad Men, an hour-long drama about a NY ad agency in the early 1960s. I rewrote my comment only so that it makes sense as a stand-alone essay, rather than as a comment that addresses other people's comments to the same post.

In case you're not familiar with twitter, it's a site that makes it easy for people to send short (one sentence) messages (dubbed "tweets") to anyone who chooses to "follow" them. You can send direct messages to people you're following if they're following you, and they have the ability to message you back.

I didn't even know that Mad Men's characters were ON twitter until I got an e-mail tonight announcing that Peggy Olson (the only female copywriter among Mad Men's characters) was following me. I immediately went and signed up to follow her. But why stop there? I am also now following [the show's characters] Don Draper, his wife, Betty Draper, and Paul Kinsey (the agency's senior copywriter, if I remember his title correctly). I wouldn't have signed up to follow Paul Kinsey, but he started following me, and I find his tweets most interesting as a behind the scenes glimpse into his character. It tells me things I don't know about the dynamics between the characters just from watching the show.

The fact that the characters are on twitter is a real bonus for Mad-Men-starved fans like me, who don't want to have to wait an entire week to see a new episode (or two weeks, in the case of tonight's rerun because of the Emmy's).

I loved that detail in a recent Mad Men episode in which the Drapers shake off their picnic blanket and leave their litter on the park lawn. It spoke volumes.

How I wish that Boston Legal's Alan Shore were a twitterer, especially since BL is entering its final season. (Could it be that he is and I don't know?)

It's indeed a great match that Mad Men, a show about an ad agency that does product placement would use twitter as product placement.

I sent a twitter message to Peggy Olson that as an idea person, I probably should have become an advertising copywriter, except that as an idealist, I have to do work I believe in. (And she twittered me back with a response that was very true to her character.) How totally cool to be able to interact with the characters of a show you love!  When in history has this ever happened before?  I mean, before the days of the internet and TV, did people have the ability to write to characters in novels and have them respond?  And what about our ability as fans, to thus perhaps influence the direction a storyline goes in?  [Of course, as a writer myself who has struggled to get my projects out into the world to make me a living, I would prefer to be paid for such ideas, but that is another story.]

I mention this only to say that alas, although I'm too idealistic to work in advertising, I love that TV shows are using twitter to promote themselves. It's a type of advertising that finally makes great sense, because it honors the viewers in ways that ads never can.

1 comment:

sketchgrrl said...

Update on my above post:

Turns out that the show Mad Men had nothing to do with its characters twittering. The twitterers were not connected with the show at all. They took it upon themselves to become the characters. The funny thing is, they've done a damn good job of staying in character. Maybe the show should hire them.