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Lelia Nebeker

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Fringe Proves That a Devoted Fan Base Is Worth More Than Ratings

Posted: 04/27/2012 3:34 pm

Now that I've finished dancing around the house singing "We Are the Champions" and openly weeping with joy, I can finally begin to put into words how excited, relieved, and overjoyed I am to hear that Fringe has been renewed for a fifth season. In terms of numbers, in terms of ratings, in terms of money, there's no logical reason Fringe should have lasted this long, and yet somehow it has been granted not only four whole seasons, but a final 13-episode run in order to give the show the proper conclusion it deserves, as reported by Entertainment Weekly yesterday evening. Fringe has never been like other shows. OK, that's not entirely true -- when it started off, Fringe was very much like its sci-fi predecessor The X-Files, but since then it has morphed into something unlike any other show on television. It defies ratings; it defies convention; it defies the standards and expectations of network TV; and often it defies the laws of physics. I want to take a second to celebrate this miraculous victory for Fringe fans everywhere, and to thank everyone involved with the fight to keep this show alive.

First, I want to thank the amazing cast, crew, and creators of Fringe, whose outstanding work and creative vision make this show the wonder that it is. The Emmys and the Golden Globes and the Nielsen boxes may not acknowledge the extreme amount of talent involved in this show, but we the fans certainly do. And thanks to Twitter, we can do it constantly, and often in very creepy ways. (But we mean well.)

I want to thank Nissan, because just like Subway helped save Chuck from cancellation for two seasons, I'm sure the frequent gratuitous shots of various Nissan vehicles and their assorted features has helped Fringe stay on the air despite its less-than-stellar ratings. I don't care if the Fringe team has to take a break from saving the world to read aloud from the Nissan owner's manual -- as long as Fringe is still on, I'm happy.

Of course I want to say a big "thank you" to Fox for taking a chance on a show that doesn't get huge ratings or make a lot of money, but it makes a lot of fans deliriously happy. And someday when we figure out a way to monetize happiness, you'll be the richest TV network of all, Fox. Okay, maybe second-richest... ABC has 25 seasons of Oprah to cash in on.

I want to thank all the great shows that died so that Fringe could live. If that sounds overly dramatic, that's only because I'm being overly dramatic. But it really means a lot to fans like me who watched Fox ruthlessly cancel their beloved shows, like Firefly and Arrested Development, to see a show we're so passionate about succeed and get the ending it has earned. I like to think that maybe Fox learned something from those monumental mistakes. Maybe the fact that Firefly had such a devoted fan base that it got a movie made, and the fact that Arrested Development is being revived six years after being canceled, have made Fox realize that they made a huge mistake, and maybe that's part of the reason why Fringe has made it this far... Or maybe Fox just got a really good two-for-one deal on Fringe with yet another new J.J. Abrams show. Who knows.

Lastly, I want to thank the millions of other Fringe fans out there whose passion and determination have created a force of support for this show that could not be overlooked. Our love for this show isn't something that can be measured by ratings or Emmys or commercial success. It can, however, be measured by a Facebook poll, as evidenced by TV Guide's Fan Favorite Award, which Fringe won this year. (Take that, Mad Men.) The Fringe fandom makes me feel like I'm not clinically insane for being more invested in the lives of these characters than I am in my own sometimes. It makes me happy to spend 10 hours a week creating ridiculous photo recaps of each episode with absolutely no logic or coherent thought behind them. To every other Fringe fan out there: thank you for this.

When someone asks, "What is Fringe about?" you can't really answer without going into a long and complicated explanation about alternate universes, rebooted times, and all kinds of confusing(-ly awesome) plot complexities. But in the end, what Fringe is about can be summed up in one word: people. Aside from all the time-traveling bald men, the shapeshifters, the chemically-induced super powers, and all the freaky phenomena that happen on Fringe, at the end of the day it's really about a group of people just doing the best they can with the challenges they face. It's fitting, then, that "people" would be the reason that Fringe is still on the air. So, to all the people who were in some part responsible for Fringe's renewal, whether you're the president of Fox Broadcasting, or a 15-year-old fan who tweets about Fringe from your basement, thank you for helping make my dream become a reality. And rather than leave you with that unfortunately cheesy (albeit true) sentiment, I shall conclude this self-indulgent rhapsody with a thought-provoking quote from Fringe's own scientist/philosopher/Red Vines connoisseur, Walter Bishop: "The only thing better than a cow, is a human. Unless you need milk. Then you really need a cow."

 

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