Ever since news broke about Scandal star Kerry Washington’s real-life pregnancy, first reported by US Weekly in October, Gladiators have been wondering if the show would incorporate the Emmy nominated actress’s current status into the third season’s story arc.
— Gladiator (@XOXO__Adri) December 6, 2013
— Lisa Marie Ivarra (@MissLMI) October 30, 2013
This type of subsequent information and conversation touches on what Henry Jenkins’ views as extratexual information that viewers and fans alike acquire through the release of publications that “feed this desire for insider knowledge.” Some of those major reputable publications today that Jenkins’ describes can include People, US Weekly, Entertainment Weekly, and TV Guide. This type of insider information, or “what they don’t show you during an episode,” is at the core of extratexual discourse, roughly described as outside or situational factors, which include but not limited to production, set design, wardrobe, make-up, casting availability, etc. (Textual Poachers, Chapter 2: How Texts Become Real)
Jenkins goes onto cite Cassandra Amsley’s study of how Star Trek fans viewed the fictional characters in relation to the actors playing the roles and discovered that many fans viewed the show with a second lens, understanding that while the characters are real within the fictional world created by Star Trek, there are other elements could potential affect the character’s actions (production decisions, writer’s room changes, available of actor/actresses) that really plays into the storyline arc.
Just yesterday, TVLine received word from the ABC network that Scandal’s third season order had been cut from 22 to 18 episodes. Scandal’s mid-season finale will air on December 12, meaning once the show returns from its winter hiatus, there will be only eight episodes left to air. Although no confirmation was given, many believe Washington’s real-life pregnancy was the reason for the cutback, as a source revealed to TVLine, writing the character of Olivia Pope out of the show for a small period time “was not an option.”
When we hear about episodes being cut from an original order, especially for networks, the reasons have more to do with ratings and money, just look at the FOX comedy Dads, which scaled back by three episodes yesterday. The reason for Scandal’s episode order was simply real-life taking priority.
Finding out about this news left a few Gladiators up in arms, proof of how extratexuality plays a role in how fans view a television show. Some were concerned about the show’s current storyline, when the air would again/scheduling issues and syndication options.
— Dara Isang (@Dr_Isang) December 8, 2013
— Alison Epstein (@alison_ep) December 7, 2013
— dēś-üh-rãÿ (@DesireXtra_E) December 7, 2013
While Jenkins said female fans needed explanations within the fictional world before looking to the production or extratexual process (Textual Poachers, Chapter 3: Fan Critics) I don’t think that is the norm anymore. I think any fan, regardless of gender, seeks out information about the object of their desire beyond what is placed in front of them: fans want to know about the behind the scenes makings, hear the songs that didn’t make the album, watch scenes left on the cutting room floor, and yes, what is going on in the lives of their favorite actors and actresses and how it could potentially impact the product. I think having instant access to this extratexual information caters to all fans.
Written with StackEdit.