Hot Docs 2018 Review: “United We Fan” (2018) ★★★★


Once, I got engages in a discussion with a colleague about the sci-fi show “Fringe” creates by FOX. It was one of my favorites, and I looked forward to watching the new episode every Friday. I asked my colleague whether she was planning to watch it once it was on. Her answer was negative. She said that she has to cook family differ and was going to watch it On Demand later. Now, I wonder whether Nielsen Media considers those who watch the episodes online after a few days or On Demand when they conduct their surveys for the network channel. Or, has anyone evaluated how many viewers the show has outside of their jurisdiction? Has a geographical survey been conducted?

If so, then at the end of the day, the executives who make decisions on canceling shows based on the statistics provided by the same Nielsen Media can justify their decisions. I personally chose not to pay much attention to their numbers. Television plays a huge role in lives of the majority of citizens of our planet, as we live not only our own lives but of those whom we so eagerly follow through the screen. I believe the relationship between the viewer and the character is much deeper than we imagine. We grow with our beloved characters, cry with them, and cherish the moments of happiness as if they were family members. Simply, they visit us on fixed schedule through our home TV.

“United We Fan” is a documentary by Michael Sparaga tells about the steps the viewers take in order to save the shows closed by the Television Network due to poor ratings or the age of the viewers.  For Instance, Bjo and John Trimble begin their fight to rescue “Star Trek” from getting canceled despite the Nielsen’s latest rating report. Dorothy Swanson has launched a campaign to help her favorite show “Cagney and Lacey” to stay on the air. In fact, she has created the VQT – Viewers for Quality Television in 1984 with a primary goal to rescue the critically acclaimed shows from getting canceled because of the Nielsen program ratings.

Through the amazingly interesting interviews, film, the viewer learns about the large-scale campaigns launched by the fans to save their favorite shows. They even manage to find sponsors so that the shows have enough funding to go on. Some might doubt why one would bother about a show that will eventually come to an end. All those questions will disappear one you get an insight view and understand why those fans invest so much time fighting for something that will be appreciated by many.

In conclusion, there’s always one thing we can do as a viewer – and this film brilliantly highlights it – we have our own circle of influence and we can push it harder to get things into motion to achieve the changes that we need. Of course, there is no control over the decision-making process of the television network but sometimes, anything can be done in order to influence that final decision to help our favorite shows survive a bit longer. That’s what we call ‘power’.

With that said, I believe now you can see the importance of watching “United We Fan.” It is up to us to decide what you want to do with your time. And it should not be decided based on the numbers of Nielsen rating program which, clearly does not provide accurate information. One thing is certain, there’s only one way to save the favorite show – to show the TV channel that we are here not just to kill our time but to enjoy it by having ourselves transported into the world they so desperately want us to be pulled off. Whether that will happen or not is up to us and no one else.


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