Fact Checker – The Glee Shipper Version
Posted by VersusTheFans
While Klaine shippers make some of the strongest misguided claims, they are certainly not alone. Brittana shippers have been known to employ this same logic—that Brittana can save the ratings! Sure, Brittana has a lot more going for it (this is not an unbiased site), but it’s just not true. Glee’s 100th episode showed a bump in ratings. Yes, Brittana was back, but so were many originals. Mainstream critical response, which is probably the most accurate window into what general audiences think, was not overwhelmingly positive for this episode. Glee’s 101st episode, as a continuation, showed a rating drop from the week before. The Brittana resolution was not enough to even maintain ratings from the week before. Even an attempt at boycott by Brittana fans during Swan song in season 4, when the Brittana fandom was at its height, didn’t affect the ratings that much.
When taking a step back to look at the bigger picture, online shippers are thousands, general audiences millions. In the end, good storytelling wins the general audience, not ships, and it’s the general audience that matters most in terms of numbers and advertising revenue. Original showrunner for Rizzoli & Isles, Janet Tamaro, once answer a question on Tumblr about this very situation—online fans are just a small part of the show’s audience. Maybe all the Glee ships’ combined forces could make a difference, but when have enough of these fandoms ever agreed on one thing for that to happen?
Keep in mind, online we tend to follow tons of Glee posts, making that world seem bigger than it is. Furthermore, we tend to follow a disproportionate number of fans who feel the same way we do, exacerbating the problem. As a Klaine or Brittana fan, the articles passed around on Twitter and Tumblr tend to support the love of a ship. But for every positive article, there is at least one with an opinion shippers won’t like. Many shippers neglect taking the time to look at the big picture—all the reviews about an episode from a more general perspective, and instead only see articles that confirm their opinion. Newsflash: the big picture over the last couple years—no part of Glee is overwhelmingly loved by the media.
In addition, a significant portion of the online shipper fandom are global, and those views don’t count towards the US ratings. Global audiences are an important and welcome part of the Glee fandom and Glee’s international audience, but don’t forget that global fandom won’t impact US ratings, which leave any fandom’s numbers lacking if attempting to affect ratings. Before this logic leads to thinking if all the global shippers combined and counted towards the ratings and save Glee, that’s still wrong. Globally, shippers are still thousands versus the general audience of millions. But, to further demonstrate, Nielsen (the organization responsible for all the TV ratings in the US) measures ratings/social impact through tweets. Guess what, Glee is not leading there either.
Though the Neilson Twitter ratings, like really all ratings, are a tool for continued advertising concern, they measure the number of individual tweeters, number of tweets and the audience reach. Currently measuring only US users, at the very least, measuring Twitter response is a more democratic measurement of the activity of the online fandom.
It’s shows on smaller cable networks, like ABC Family’s Pretty Little Liars who set the Twitter records. To put this in context, Pretty Little Liars now has an audience in the 2.5-4 million range, which is roughly the size of Glee’s current audience. Yet, Pretty Little Liars sets Twitter records left and right, and Glee only managed to make it to number 7 on Neilsen’s top 10 list for most tweeted about shows in Fall 2013. (Pretty Little Liars’ off-season.) Glee doesn’t draw as much social capital as the fandom likes to think in comparison to other social media giants, like Pretty Little Liars, The Walking Dead or Scandal.
There is a direct correlation with the decline in viewership with the decline in the quality of the show over the last 3 seasons, season 4 and beyond especially. This lack of quality is not only well documented in the media, but also by general audiences and online fans. There is no amount of Klaine or Brittana shippers who will change this trend. It’s math. Online hardcore fandom shippers—thousands. General audiences looking for a good show (aka, not Glee)—millions. You can hate math all you want, but math doesn’t lie.
Glee has earned the poor ratings all on its own. The fact is this: Glee is no longer leading in anything. Not the ratings, not critical reception and not social media mojo, nor does it deserve to be. And no amount of Brittana or Klaine alone is ever going to have a noticeable effect on the ratings.