Has anyone else noticed this?
Regardless, let me put it into perspective!
As the internet has become more accessible for people of all shapes/sizes/backgrounds/ages, the entertainment industry has geared more and more towards using the internet to advertise; obviously to attract more viewers/buyers/etc. Alongside advertising, however, they have begun to utilize the internet in a different way. The entertainment industry has begun to expand upon the worlds they’ve created in their movies/shows, by creating online media for its fictional characters, businesses, etc.
While yes, I would agree that the inclusion of online components and/or varying media for a TV world can be considered further ploy to reel you in and keep you watching, the aspect of the world’s expansion is worth noting on a literary level. Let’s look at some examples!
The first one/s that I remember coming into contact as a consumer,were associated with NBC’s Heroes. The first and most notable being the graphic novel.
The Heroes graphic novel, like many of the other examples I will mention later on, added a depth to the Heroes universe that could not be fit in the boundaries of a weekly episode. The graphic novel provided the show’s fans with another chance to experience the universe outside of the TV show. It provided them with back story on characters that was mentioned in passing in the show, if at all, with events prior to what happened in the show, during but from other perspectives, or after, all made evident by the words and art that filled the panels of the pages.
Aside from the graphic novel, Heroes used various other means of media to give more depth/realism to the show, such as with the Primatech Paper website, which was the company that *spoiler* was a front for an organization affiliated with the Government to find/keep the “Heroes” under control. The rest are available at the official NBC site under “Exclusives.”
Both Scrubs and How I Met Your Mother have used new media in similar ways. Each show created a faux rating website. Scrubs for its Doctors, rateyourdoc.org, complete with faux reviews and pages for most of the characters, and in How I Met Your Mother, http://grademyteacher.net/, a faux professor rating site which featured character, Ted Mosby.
Unfortunately rateyourdoc.org is no longer in existence (since Scrubs is no longer being produced), but here is a photo of the banner.
They also each showcase websites created by their characters, such as thetoddtime.com (Scrubs) and http://www.barneysvideoresume.com/, (How I Met Your Mother) where you can download and watch Barney’s video resume.
All of the other websites mentioned on the show can be found on the show’s wiki page.
All of these sites create a sense of the show being more than just a show. By making the websites mentioned in passing accessible to viewers, by allowed us to access content the characters speak about, the 4th wall, in a sense, is broken.
In How I Met Your Mother fashion (Barney’s Blog which can be found via the wiki) HBO’s True Blood offers its fans with Jessica’s, a new, through events in the show, vampire, blog/vlog.
Jessica’s blogs, effect/affect audiences in the same manners as does the Heroes sites. Jessica is a vampire. By giving viewers a look into her life via a blog, not only do we again see more character develop/events/etc. that there is no room nor place for in the show itself, but it allows us, in this instance, further background on the idea/conceptualization of the vampire (as Jessica speaks of her experience) created in its universe.
I expect that soon, the entertainment industry will turn towards interactivity with new media and the shows/movies/games it creates, whether through social media, ARGs, or sites that are fully functional, (e.g. a professor rating site where we, the audience, can review Ted Mosby as a professor) and provide consumers with, not only more draw, but more to pull from literarily.