Social Issues and TV Scripted Fiction: An Exploration of Fans’ Feedback in Spain

Deborah Castro, Joseph D. Straubhaar


Within the ongoing theorization of active audiences, this article analyzes the concept of a new Internet-based social audience for TV and online scripted fiction through the social media buzz generated by 72 Spanish scripted fiction programs. The investigation is focused on the comments posted by fans and, partly, community managers after the release of the programs’ finales. Because of the wide range of themes present in the sample (8,103 posts), we focus on those messages that reflect Internet users’ interpretations of historical and social issues broached by the programs. Results suggest that period programs invite a larger number of comments related to social issues than do programs about the present. Moreover, support for TV fiction’s fidelity to historical events is observed to be contingent on the happiness factor of those events; tragedy seems to be unpopular with viewers wanting to disconnect from their concerns. Finally, viewers enjoy programs critical of current social issues (e.g., political corruption).


Keywords: TV fiction, social audiences, active viewer, cultural proximity, Spain

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