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Scandal succeeds by tapping into social media conversations ... and deep-seated political fears.

Two interesting articles about the TV show Scandal caught my attention today. Sheila Parks has posted a number of interesting analysis of episodes of the show, which has recently gotten increased attention and been renewed for a third season.

The AVClub talked today about how the show encapsulates America’s political nightmares:

Scandal got where it is by ramping up its storytelling to the point where nearly every episode contains what would be a full season’s worth of twists on other shows. Furthermore, Rhimes made the very smart decision to treat the first 13 episodes as a separate season of their own, then treat the so-called back nine as another arc. This decision brings with it some freedoms that cable dramas’ shorter episode orders boast over network dramas. But the series also taps into something indefinable in the political zeitgeist: As The West Wing defined the long twilight of the Clinton years, Scandal is the George W. Bush/Barack Obama TV show we didn’t know we needed. At its best, it plays like a slightly sci-fi dramatization of Glenn Greenwald’s blog, with soap elements added, as well as a hefty dose of romantic tragedy. In Scandal, there are only two things that hold true: No American institution—not governmental or corporate—has your best interests at heart, and human relationships are a kind of beautiful addiction, irresistible in the moment but spiraling outward to infect all they touch.

The first season of the show barely garnered good enough ratings to make it to renewal, but in the second season Scandal has become one of ABC’s top shows. It’s done this by creating powerful conversations on Twitter, according to policymic:

Scandal (@ScandalABC), one of ABC’s top rated dramas, which airs on Thursday evenings (10pm EST and 10 p.m. PST) is a great example of a show that has capitalized on the Twitter opportunity. On September 27, 2012, during the premiere of the show’s second season, ABC launched Scandal’s live-tweet campaign, offering its fans engaging, real-time conversation, updates and information. Scandal fans, also known as “Gladiators,” have been taking to Twitter ever since to interact with the entire cast and each other. According to the Hollywood ReporterScandal fans produce 2,200 tweets per minute when each episode first airs. Even the show’s lead writer, Shonda Rhimes (@shondarhimes), her writing team (@scandalwriters), and the show’s make-up team (@scandalmakeup) are joining in on the online conversation.

Scandal’s creative hashtagging style is proving to be effective as well. According to the same Hollywood reporter article, Scandal represents an average of five of the ten trending topics on Twitter feeds on Thursday evenings. Scandal’s social team releases theme-based hashtagsregarding specific upcoming episodes and/or story plots. The #WhoShotFitz campaign was launched during season two and instantly spread throughout twitter feeds, inspiring different theories, predictions and ideas around the assassination attempt of President Fitzgerald Grant, Tony Goldwyn’s character. When the show finally revealed the identity of the assassin, the network launched the #FreeHuck campaign immediately after to keep the online buzz going. Scandal has a created a natural rhythm of back and forth between new plots and storylines and fan feedback.

I confess I haven’t watched the show yet — but the buzz is making me reconsider. How about you? What TV shows are you watching?

Tonight’s musical selection is “Laser Beans” by Total Unicorn.


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Kit OConnell

Kit OConnell

Kit O’Connell is a gonzo journalist and radical troublemaker from Austin, Texas. He is the Associate Editor and Community Manager of Shadowproof. Kit's investigative journalism has appeared in Truthout, MintPress News and