June 15, 2006

TV Characters with Blogs

by Scott Rettberg · , 10:55 am

One potentially interesting turn for blog narratives: there seems to be a trend towards television characters with their own blogs as a way for the networks to cross-market their offerings on the Web. While most of the TV character blogs I’ve run across are fairly lame in-character rehashings of plot events from the show, it is interesting to see the different approaches that production companies are taking to using character blogs in their crossmedia marketing efforts.

The uptight “dork” character from NBC’s The Office, Dwight K Schrute‘s blog is infrequently updated, though his posts, such as his detailed report of his morning itinerary, including what he had for breakfast, the radio show he listened to, and a progress report on his beet farm and throwing star practice, are in character with the nature of his TV persona. The many commenters seem comfortable with addressing Dwight as if he was a real person. NBC seems to have just as as big a problem with blog spam as GTxA. In addition to his blog on the NBC site, Dwight set up a MySpace profile, which immediately blasts the viewer with his favorite tune, the Scorpions’ “Rock Me Like a Hurricane.”

Margene, the somewhat ditzy youngest wife of the polygamist family on the HBO drama Big Love, has a blog on the HBO site in the confessional LiveJournal style, complete with happy and sad emoticons. While most of her entries simply rehash plot events from the preceding week’s show, they do offer a more detailed account of her character’s perspective on events and provide some method actor-style backstory on her character’s motivation. There’s also a pretty good rant about trolls who think she doesn’t take her blog seriously enough.:

Someone on the internet called my blog “inane.”(I really don’t know what that word means-I’d never use it myself, I mean-but, apparently, I shouldn’t admit that because then they would make fun of me some more for being dumb or whatever.) Believe it or not, I am this ditzy and I like it and if you don’t, you don’t have to listen to me ramble. Seriously. That’s not me being mean, I promise. I don’t want you to get unhappy when you’re reading this. And there’s just so much out there that if my squeaky voice annoys you, feel free to go off in another direction…no questions asked and no hard feelings. Go play online poker or read and bash Anderson Cooper’s blog (actually, don’t…he’s a national treasure). Gosh. What’s the big deal? I thought the whole point of these blogs was to “shoot from the hip” (as my mom says). Should I be more thoughtful? Should I talk about President Bush? I can complain about gas prices if you want.

The character of Dave, the wacky beer-loving conspiracy-theory oriented uncle from the recently canceled ABC series Invasion is actually a blogger on the show who revealed what he knew about the alien invasion of Homestead, Florida as the season progressed. On the actual episodes, Dave was often seen drafting his blog entries by recording them into a mini tape recorder. Dave’s blog, at http://www.didyouseethelights.com/ has some nice flourishes for verisimilitude, including a dedicated URL, a superbly tacky Dave head and beer design, a blogroll with links to conspiracy theory sites, the national weather service, and a homebrew site. The comments are also apparently filtered to weed out those that are not “in-character,” thus preserving a veneer of suspension-of-disbelief.

While none of these sites are great literature, they do suggest a compelling use of blogs for the entertainment industry. I’m sure that we’ll see more of them, given that they are a very inexpensive form of internet marketing that likely has more appeal than websites that simply present the show’s roster of actors and/or episode guides. One wonders what other sort of weblog/tv combinations are in the offing. It would be interesting to see a narrative that unfolded primarily or more extensively on blogs, which was supported by a TV series, rather than the other way around.