Praxis

Online Italian fandoms of American TV shows

Eleonora Benecchi

Università della Svizzera Italiana, Lugano, Switzerland

[0.1] Abstract—The Internet has changed media fandom in two main ways: it helps fans connect with each other despite physical distance, leading to the formation of international fan communities; and it helps fans connect with the creators of the TV show, deepening the relationship between TV producers and international fandoms. To assess whether Italian fan communities active online are indeed part of transnational online communities and whether the Internet has actually altered their relationship with the creators of the original text they are devoted to, qualitative analysis and narrative interviews of 26 Italian fans of American TV shows were conducted to explore the fan-producer relationship. Results indicated that the online Italian fans surveyed preferred to stay local, rather than using geography-leveling online tools. Further, the sampled Italian fans' relationships with the show runners were mediated or even absent.

[0.2] Keywords—Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997–2003); Fringe (2008–13); Global; Local; Lost (2004–10); Show runner; Supernatural (2005–); Transnationalism

Benecchi, Eleonora. 2015. "Online Italian Fandoms of American TV Shows." In "European Fans and European Fan Objects: Localization and Translation," edited by Anne Kustritz, special issue, Transformative Works and Cultures, no. 19. http://dx.doi.org/10.3983/twc.2015.0586.

1. Introduction

[1.1] Much recent research in the field of fandom studies suggests that the Internet is a key factor in altering the relationship between fans and creators of the original text (Baym 2000; Hills 2003; Pearson 2010), giving fans unprecedented access to the production sphere (Caldwell 2006, 2008) and transforming fandoms into transnational online communities (Booth 2010; Jenkins 1992; Jenkins, Ford, and Green 2013). According to this perspective, the Internet has changed fandom in two main ways. First, it has helped fans connect with each other despite physical distance, which has permitted the formation of international fan communities (Baym 2000; Hobson 1982; Jenkins 2006, 1992). Second, the Internet helps fans connect with the creators of their favorite TV shows, deepening the relationship between TV producers and fans (Askwith 2007; Benecchi and Richeri 2013). Despite the documented development of strong fan communities for American TV shows in European countries (Benecchi and Richeri 2013; Porter and Lavery 2006; Scaglioni 2006; other essays in this issue of Transformative Works and Cultures), the relationship between these local fandoms and the original TV shows' producers remains an underresearched field.

[1.2] To fill this gap, I performed a study that aimed to investigate the relationship between Italian fans of American TV shows participating in online communities and the creators of their favorite TV show. I chose Italy because other studies have underlined the relevance of fandom phenomena in this region (Andò and Marinelli 2008; Tedeschi 2003) and because there are strong fan communities for American TV shows there (Benecchi and Richeri 2013; Scaglioni 2006, 2007). Italian research has found that fans are a relevant group when performing both quantitative and qualitative analyses. The quantitative wide surveys conducted by Andò and Marinelli (2008), for instance, emphasize how the phenomenon of fandom is spreading in Italy, and the qualitative studies of Scaglioni (2006) and Benecchi and Richeri (2013) reveal the depth of fan devotion to specific cultural objects in Italy.

[1.3] My research explores the kinds of relationships Italian fans of American TV shows, in particular Supernatural (2005–), Fringe (2008–13), Lost (2004–10), and Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997–2003), build with the original producers via the Internet. What kind of online fan activities do they pursue to connect with the original producers? To begin to answer this query, I conducted a qualitative analysis of the relationship formed through fan activity between producers of American TV shows and Italian fans. I chose producers involved in the production of selected TV shows who play the role of show runners (Caldwell 2006, 2008; Frigge 2005). As stated in previous research (Benecchi and Richeri 2013; Frigge 2005) and documentaries (Wild 2000), when there is a relationship between fans and producers of American TV shows, it is primarily a fan–show runner relationship.

[1.4] My work addresses two main research questions: Are local online fan communities part of transnational online communities? And has the Internet actually altered the relationship between fans and the creators/show runners of the original text? I found, in part, that even though the Internet gives fans unprecedented access to the production sphere, it does not necessarily translate into an alteration of the power relationship between fans and creators—all the more so for fan communities based outside the United States. In the case of fans in Italy, specific online fan communities have an informal stay-local policy, so in this instance, the vaunted transnational online community of fans is not seen in practice.

2. Methodology

[2.1] In order to analyze the relationship between Italian fans and American producers of TV shows, I used a qualitative approach. I performed an empirical analysis using traditional ethnographic tools such as participant observation and narrative interviews. The methodology chosen for this study responds to the need to permit the researcher's subjectivity to play a central role in the research process, profiting from his or her ability to observe and establish relationships (Vergani 2010). I began my analysis with online covert observation, following the protocol developed by Langer and Beckman (2005), which helped me identify fan communities in Italy that were active online and that seemed appropriate for my research in terms of number of messages exchanged, number of active users, number of visits per month to the relevant online spaces, and frequency of content updates. I identified two fan sub communities (Subsfactory and Itasa) and three general fan sites connected with forums, Facebook, and Twitter (Telesimo, Serialmente, and Telefilm Addicted) as relevant Italian fannish spaces.

[2.2] While observing the activities and participating in the discussions in these online spaces, I was able to identify a group of fans to approach to conduct narrative interviews. I expanded this first list of possible interview subjects by using a respondent-driven method, which assumes that those best able to access members of hidden populations are their own peers. I conducted 26 face-to-face narrative interviews with selected Italian fans who were active online, 17 women and nine men, ranging in age from 22 to 41 years. Data collection used the grounded theory approach of Glaser and Strauss (1967); this approach does not separate the phases of data collection and analysis. Data collection is thus an ongoing process, with the analysis proceeding in parallel with the data collection itself. Further, according to Riessman (2007), narrative interviews involve the generation of detailed stories of experience, not generalized descriptions. Therefore, in this study, I use a descriptive approach following the model of Demazière and Dubar (2000) that focuses on the direct voice of the fans.

[2.3] Although the sample size of the subject pool was small, at 26 respondents, an inductive method focused on individuals or small groups permits access to the causal texture of the social life of communities (Small 2009; Vaughn 1992). Qualitative research performed using such small groups is able to arrive at meaningful findings (Geertz 1973; Harper 1992; Lieberson 1991; Savolainen 1994). More recent research, such as that of Guest, Bunce, and Johnson (2006), found in their study comprising 60 interviews that saturation was achieved after 12 interviews. Further, online fandom is treated as an imaginary community (Grossberg 1992); in such a case, even a small number of subjects is important because of the impact of their activities on others and because a study of them could tell us something about the community they are part of.

[2.4] Fans' remarks in their online fandom forums and in the narrative interviews were originally in Italian. The translations are mine, and presentation has been edited to idiomatic English-language usage while still attempting to retain the original voice of the fan. The narrative interviews were conducted both in person and via Skype over the course of a year, from January 2013 to January 2014.

3. A relationship in absentia

[3.1] When asked to define their relationship with US producers, most of the fans interviewed talked about—even emphasized—the absence of a relationship. Only four of them believed that they were actually in a relationship with a creator of an American TV show, but they portrayed this relationship as distant and virtual. According to fans, this absence was the result of the physical distance, indicating that in this instance, the Internet does not transcend geographical distance:

[3.2] I'm Italian, therefore no contact at all. (Interviewee 10)

[3.3] According to the Italian fans interviewed, an absence of contact does not apply to all fans of their fandom but instead mainly to fans based outside the United States, which hints at how the Italian interview subjects imagine American fan behavior. Of course, fans everywhere vary in their desire to directly contact TV producers, but fans based outside the United States have far fewer opportunities to do so. Therefore, it is unsurprising that the fans I interviewed perceived American fans as being closer to the show runner, and thus more influential, as this remark demonstrates:

[3.4] They [the producers] are so far away. Maybe American fans have more opportunity for interaction, but to us they are like out of reach. (Interviewee 8)

[3.5] When the Italian fans interviewed spoke about a productive fan-producer relationship, they made explicit reference to American fandoms, portraying them as hyperreactive and participatory:

[3.6] He [Eric Kripke of Supernatural] answered the fans about Ruby! They asked to cut her and he did it! I didn't dislike her so much, but it seemed very important to American fans to have her eliminated. He must really love them to change the story for them. (Interviewee 20)

[3.7] When comparing the data from the narrative interviews with recent studies on American online fandoms (Andrejevic 2008; Baym 2000), a discrepancy appears between the interviewed Italian fans' beliefs about American fan-producer interaction and the reality that only a minority of American fans meet and interact with the original producers. The study sample also appeared to believe that fandom is deeply connected with interaction and participation, and therefore, they often described American fans as "big fans" and themselves as "normal fans."

[3.8] When the interviewed fans offered descriptions of concrete interactions and communications between fans and producers, they spoke of Americans, not themselves. When referring to their own relationship with American TV show creators, they spoke in terms of desire:

[3.9] Oh I would like so much to interact with them in real time or to have some of my questions and doubts answered. They [American fans] have all these opportunities to get in contact with them. They can even visit the set and meet the cast or go to conventions and talk with them firsthand. They are visible as a face in the crowd, [which] is always better than to be part of a faceless crowd! (Interviewee 1)

[3.10] In the eyes of the Italian fans interviewed, to be a big fan, a fan must not only make herself visible to the TV show's creators and to other fans, but she must also be willing to participate in international fandom activities. From this perspective, Italian fans are in a less than ideal position to become big fans because of their physical distance and the language barrier. Nevertheless, they do claim a right to define themselves as fans, even if that definition is different from what they perceive to be the ideal fan profile, which they attribute to American fans. In many cases, the fans I surveyed saw a certain appeal in the fact the show runners were so untouchable and far away:

[3.11] I love him [Kripke] so much. At a distance. As it should be. I wouldn't dare meet him or talk to him. What if he were completely different from what I have imagined? I have this idea in my mind of him being like a god of storytelling. Someone who has all the answers, someone who has a plan. What if he reveals himself to be without a clue about where his story is going? What if I realize that he writes the thing that the devil network wants him to write? I mean, the forced introduction of Ruby and Bella inside the show was enough already. I need to believe he is someone above average. Otherwise I could not worship him like I do. (Interviewee 8)

4. Where there's a will, there's a way

[4.1] The Italian fans interviewed remained detached from American show runners, but not for lack of opportunity to interact online. As demonstrated in previous field studies (Benecchi and Colapinto 2010, 2011a, 2011b), in the last decade, producers of American TV shows have been particularly open to interactions with their fans, and opportunities for fan engagement with TV shows and their creators have multiplied (Askwith 2007; Caldwell 2006, 2008). American show runners have personal blogs, Facebook pages, and Twitter accounts where they make themselves visible to fans and offer chances for interaction (Wild 2000). Despite this, the strong online presence of TV shows' producers is not perceived by the Italian fans interviewed as interactive per se. According to the interview subjects, to be considered proactive, American show runners must exhibit a fan-friendly profile:

[4.2] All the producers are online nowadays. But this doesn't mean they are willing to have a relationship with fans. For many of them Twitter is like a shop window where they expose their products and merchandise for fans to buy. (Interviewee 2)

[4.3] They are oh so active but not interactive. They talk a lot about their international fandoms, but when we go to conventions they do not even know they have fandom in Italy. (Interviewee 3)

[4.4] What is lacking, according to the interviewees, are not opportunities for interaction but rather the will of the producers to profit from them. Despite the presence of strong fan communities for American TV shows in European countries (Le Guern 2002), including Italy (Benecchi and Richeri 2013; Scaglioni 2007, 2006), show runners are believed to consider European fandoms as not worth the effort to start an actual interaction:

[4.5] We are an important asset for the show but I don't think the original producers realize this. (Interviewee 9)

[4.6] Therefore, producers who appear to be willing to connect with local fandoms are described as exceptional:

[4.7] The most intelligent ones understand that they have a market outside the US and try to connect with Euro fans, but the majority of cases look only to US fans. (Interviewee 15)

[4.8] Although the absence of a fan-producer relationship is attributed to producers, the Italian fans interviewed did not appear to be willing to make direct contact with them. Most of the fans interviewed (23 of 26) never even tried to directly interact with American producers through the Internet. As one fan noted of online interaction with producers,

[4.9] I've never thought about it. We are best friends, at least until the TV show is canceled. But we meet in this fantastic world he [J. J. Abrams of Lost] created, where I am like Dante and he is my Virgil. We do travel together, but we do not need to talk too much. We just need to share the experience. (Interviewee 13)

[4.10] Even though some of the Italian fans interviewed talked about their desire to get in contact with American producers, they also drew attention to the fact that the language barrier, which, even more than geographical distance, prevented them from interacting online:

[4.11] It [the Internet] doesn't really help, mainly because of the language barrier. I wouldn't feel comfortable trying to talk to them with my English. Usually I wait for others to translate what they say and then I comment with them. I know everything about them but I'm invisible to them. It is OK though. (Interviewee 2)

[4.12] A willingness to overcome physical and language barriers has surfaced in cases considered to be exceptional by the fans interviewed, such as the end of a TV show or the departure of a beloved show runner:

[4.13] When the series [Lost] was canceled I wrote him [Abrams] but I had the mail translated by a British friend so that my English would not be too broken. I wouldn't want him to think Italian fans are an ignorant bunch, even if when it comes to English speaking we are a little bit! (Interviewee 4)

[4.14] In normal circumstances, an indirect approach to American producers is preferred by the fans interviewed:

[4.15] At the end of season 5, I had to thank him [Kripke] for what he did for us. So I participated in a collective thank you gift organized by American fans. That was easy though. I just had to complete a form and send a little money to them. When he thanked us it felt like I was part of that amazing fandom he was talking about. (Interviewee 1)

[4.16] However, even though contact with the producers is indirect or mediated by other fans, its appeal or value is not lessened.

5. Looking for a mediator

[5.1] A mediation between fans and producers can be offered by other fans identified as big-name fans or leaders of the local fan community. Among the fans I interviewed, Webmasters and forum leaders associated with local fan communities often did the work of collecting the thoughts expressed by the producers via Facebook or Twitter:

[5.2] I visit American forums as a lurker to gather news. Then I come back to my fan forum and post them or discuss them with the others. I do the same thing with official blogs or Facebook pages. I check them because you have a chance to know things firsthand. (Interviewee 20)

[5.3] I have to say our Webmasters are amazing. I do not need to go into international forums to know what the show runners said or did because they do all the work for me! (Interviewee 24)

[5.4] This tendency to search for information mediated by a trusted fan was also emphasized by the fact that only four of 26 fans interviewed noted that they followed their favorite producer on Twitter and Facebook—but all 26 noted that they were part of a local fan community or lurked in international ones. The fans I interviewed had thus adopted a stay-local strategy, where any connection to the international community was made via the leaders of the local fan community or alternatively via lurking. Moreover, 21 of the 26 Italian fans interviewed noted that they read online interviews involving their favorite producers. When asked to give details about this activity, though, they admitted to reading translated versions provided by Italian fan forums or magazines. Even in the case of fans who read the interviews with the producers firsthand, via official channels, mediation was still involved, this time by the channel of communication itself: fans were able to keep in contact with the producers by following them on the Internet while remaining invisible to them. As one fan remarked,

[5.5] I read all his [Abrams's] interviews and Q/A sessions. I also observe his Facebook page and public Twitter account even if I do not officially follow him. It's like I know him. He doesn't need to know me, though. (Interviewee 9)

[5.6] Despite the mediated nature of online interviews, the Italian fans interviewed considered them to be a channel of communication used by the producers to directly address fans, as is the case when producers answer collective fan questions:

[5.7] They answer fan questions in their interviews. He [Kripke] started this practice when we were complaining online about Dean being a douchebag. He basically used that interview to tell us that we were wrong and that he was going to show us later on in the show. And he did! (Interviewee 4)

[5.8] Even traditionally immediate events are becoming more mediated, as previous field research has found (Benecchi and Richeri 2013). International fan conventions have been transformed in online events by Italian fans. As Benecchi and Richeri (2013) note, few Italian fans actually participate in the physical events at the convention site itself, but almost the entirety of the local fan community participate virtually. The convention is in effect transferred online, thanks to the written, audio, and video reports published by the fans who are actually attending. According to the Italian fans interviewed, cost was the primary reason more fans do not attend conventions involving the cast of their TV show:

[5.9] The prices are crazy. They don't take into considerations the fact that fans are coming from different countries. (Interviewee 12)

[5.10] I went once but you have to pay for everything. EVERYTHING. At some point I thought they would make me pay for even looking at them. (Interviewee 13)

[5.11] However, indications of different motives emerged:

[5.12] People who go share everything online. Autographs, pictures, conversations. Of course it is not like being there, but it comes pretty close. I would even say it is better this way. If I don't understand something I can discuss it with my friends in the fan community. Moreover, when you are at a convention live, there is only so much you can do. At home in front of my PC I can watch and listen to almost everything. (Interviewee 24)

[5.13] I follow my favorite conventions online through [a fan] community forum. If I would go there, I'd probably be alone, the prices are so high! This way I can share the experience with all my friends in the fan community! (Interviewee 16)

[5.14] The mediation of both the local and international fan communities allowed the Italian fans interviewed to have a better experience when it came to making contact with the original producers of the TV show. Even in exceptional cases when conventions are held in the fans' country of origin, the mediated experience was still the most frequent one for the Italian fans interviewed:

[5.15] I know they had the [Supernatural] convention in Rome, but it was impossible for me to go there. The pass, even the basic one, was too expensive. People from my community went there though, but they are the ones who usually go to international conventions too. Thanks to them, every step of the convention was documented and I didn't feel detached at all. (Interviewee 1)

[5.16] I would be paralyzed, literally. And I do not speak the language well enough to interact with a TV show's show runner. I mean they are like our gods and I wouldn't dare directly interact with them. I sent some questions for the question/answer sessions and they were answered! It was so exciting! They basically talked to me, you know? (Interviewee 7)

[5.17] From the narratives of the study sample, it is evident that the Internet has given them unprecedented access to the production sphere, but this did not increase their level of interaction with American producers.

6. Fandom locally

[6.1] The detachment perceived by the study respondents on the part of American producers was not only the product of a perceived lack of commitment toward Italian fans on the part of the producers; nor was it motivated by the language barrier or physical distance. Rather, the lack of interaction between the Italian fans interviewed and the American producers was the result of a fan decision to stay under the radar—a decision characteristic of Italian fandoms, as other studies have found (Scaglioni 2006; Tedeschi 2003) and as these remarks make clear:

[6.2] American fans tend to make themselves visible not only to their community but also to a larger one. Producers know them by name. I'm thinking about the real fans introduced in Supernatural, for instance. They are interviewed by journalists who praise them for their activity. Think about the Fringe [2008–13] fans and their Twitter campaign. They are public in some way. We are not like that. I cannot go to my friends and colleagues and say, hey guys you know what? Last night I was up until 2 AM to discuss the last episode of Fringe. They would take me to be a crazy person. (Interviewee 7)

[6.3] We have to stay under the radar. Especially because we are old…Our age ranges from 30 to 40. We have families and serious work. Fandom is something that involves young girls screaming at a One Direction concert, at least in my parents' minds. (Interviewee 3)

[6.4] This preferred tendency to remain inside the local space of fandom was reflected in the highly mediated fan-producer relationship as well as in the participation of the Italian fans interviewed in international fan campaigns or online activities. Online activities that required or could result in direct contact with the producers were often delegated to fans based in the United States or other English-speaking countries. According to the interviewees, their involvement in activities that sought to influence the production of American TV shows was extremely low:

[6.5] I've never participated in a save the show campaign. It doesn't really save the show, does it? (Interviewee 1)

[6.6] I signed some online petitions organized by American fans. Just that. (Interviewee 2)

[6.7] The interviewees used physical distance to explain their detachment from the original producers:

[6.8] Never organized one [fan campaign]. I leave that to fans living in the US. They are the ones near the producers. They can talk directly to them. We are too far. We can just support them. (Interviewee 7)

[6.9] The reluctance to participate in public activities or to be seen outside the local fan community was not only a product of circumstances (language barrier, physical barrier, low access to Internet) but also a result of fans' choices.

7. Be careful what you wish for

[7.1] As previously stated, the fans interviewed sketched a profile of big fans, who are characterized by a willingness to interact directly with the producers and to influence the TV show. This profile was often applied to American fans, who were perceived as a coherent and monolithic community. Even though direct contact with American producers was believed to be important to construct a big fan profile, it was also considered counterproductive by some of the fans interviewed. As one noted,

[7.2] All those fans wanting to have an impact on the production. I think it's making the TV shows develop in a very wrong way. Joss Whedon was right in this: do not give to the fans what they want, give them what they need. (Interviewee 3)

[7.3] In the narrative interviews collected, the fans, while praising the supposed interactivity and participation of American fans, refused to take on this behavior. The Italian fans interviewed exhibited a tendency to stay local. According to their statements, discussions about the producer's choices and statements should develop inside local fandoms, not outside, and the interaction between fans should be pursued inside local fan forums, not international or official ones. The reason for this was the fear that in international or official fan spaces, producers would visit and sometimes interact with the fans. Although the language barrier was explicitly identified as a primary reason for this commitment to local fan spaces, it was not the only one:

[7.4] Basically I read what they say online and then I go comment inside my fan forum. I do not interact in other fan spaces, let alone in official forums. I wouldn't feel confortable knowing that he [Kripke] could read what I write at any given time. In my fan forum I write in Italian and the space is closed to nonsubscribers so I feel protected. I would feel under judgment in a forum I know the producer can read. I mean, you know the old adage: what happens in fandom should stay in fandom.

[7.5] Despite their tendency to stay local, all the Italian fans interviewed recognized that fans could potentially influence the producers of a TV show. According to their statements, the closer the relationship between fans and producers, the stronger the potential influence of fans on the TV show. Again, they attributed more influence to American fans because they believed that fans based in the United States were more likely to interact with and meet original producers.

[7.6] According to the collected narrative interviews, fans were believed to be the most influential when it came to the economic sphere:

[7.7] Fans are an economic resource for producers. We buy merchandise, we participate in save the show campaigns, we even collect money to feed their initiatives. We are an economic asset for them. (Interviewee 5)

[7.8] The fans interviewed were reluctant to acknowledge the narrative influence of fandoms over the plot of a TV show. They recognized that the ability to influence the narrative was potentially present, but they strongly thought that producers should ignore fan requests when it came to writing the show's scripts:

[7.9] Fans shouldn't have a lot of influence. Their requires are often the product of a personal desire they don't think about the greater good. (Interviewee 1)

[7.10] Fans shouldn't be allowed to ruin TV shows. When a show runner listens too much to fans or want to be friend with them, that is when tragedy happens. Like in the 6th season of Supernatural. It is like those mothers trying to be their children's best friend. (Interviewee 4)

[7.11] The narrative interviews identified productivity more than interactivity as the core of fandom. Some of the fans even stated that it was through their online productivity that they could make themselves visible to the producers and obtain answers to their requests:

[7.12] I have my issue with the way the TV show is developing, but there's no use in trying to speak with them online. Better make the problems emerge in fan discussions or through fan activities such as meme of fan video. This way is more effective because you make people talk. Think about the Sera Gamble case [on Supernatural]. It's not like we asked for them to cut her as a show runner. We talked about her inability to [perform] the role and we made other talk. And The Powers That Be heard. (Interviewee 22)

[7.13] According to this perspective, fan labor, rather than direct contact with the show runner, was the more productive way to contact the producers of a TV show.

[7.14] We are recognized by them [the producers] because of the massive work we do to promote the TV show [Supernatural] in Italy. I've never tweeted with them or written them fan mail. But they know we exist because of the things we do for them. (Interviewee 1)

[7.15] The Italian fans interviewed were not seeking a direct dialogue with the producers. Rather, they preferred to wait for recognition of their work to keep the TV show and their creators at the center of the public discourse, to promote the TV show to a less engaged audience, and to translate content for local fandoms.

[7.16] The relationship they built with the producers of their favorite TV show was often indirect, even imaginary, but it was built out of passion nevertheless:

[7.17] I worship him and his work. I would do anything to spread his words and his world. The only thing I need in return is for him to keep my beloved TV show up and running. (Interviewee 26)

8. Conclusions

[8.1] This empirical study of the relationships built by a sample of Italian online fans and the producers of the American TV that they are fans of found that the community preferred to stay local, rather than using online tools, such as forums that permit direct interaction with the show runners, that would have given their fan experience a transnational dimension. Further, despite an explicit desire to connect with the producers of their favorite TV show, the sampled Italian fans' relationships with the show runners of their TV shows were often absent, or at least mediated. The fans interviewed tended to be active members of their local fan communities but pulled back from international or official communities, citing reasons such as physical distance and the language barrier; they also perceived big fans, who would engage in such activity, as mostly comprising Americans. However, other, more complex factors were in play. The narrative interviews indicated that fans tended to avoid direct contact with show runners because of a diffuse fear of judgment that worked in tandem with the belief that fans and producers should remain and work in different spheres and in different ways. A common belief among the fans interviewed was that big fans should not directly challenge or engage with the TV show producer in a discussion over the TV show's development—something that the interviewed fans did not think was appropriate or that was even detrimental to the show.

[8.2] The results of this study cannot be generalized to the universe of Italian fandom; therefore, the conclusions drawn from the qualitative interviews performed should be considered important rather than representative. By combining observation of online fan behavior and narrative interviews, even with a small sample of fans, useful information may be gleaned on how Italian fans relate to American producers and American fan audiences. This information may be used a starting point for further analysis.

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