It’s Saturday night at Middlebury College and a group of college students lounge around, order Chinese food and simply enjoy each others company. They sit on a sofa, directly in front of this sofa is a table, and on that is a MacBook playing Glee. Everyone in the room has already seen the episodes, but we are in the mood for some good clean fun. The dialogue going on over the show goes as follows:
Friend 1: Puck dated Santana.
Friend 2: That’s a hot couple. Who’s he dating now?
Friend 1: Don’t know.
Friend 3: Rachael is dating Mr. Shu supposedly. They’re actually close in age.
Friend 1: That’s just a rumor. And she’s like my age, 22 going on 23, and he’s in his thirties.
Friend 4: Quinn is so pretty.
Friend 1: Yeah she and Rachael are actually best friends in real life and they live together.
Friend 2: Who are Finn, Rachael and Puck dating in real life then?
Friend 1: Dunno.
Friend 3: I have a hunch Puck and Quinn like each other. I youtubed an interview of all of them and those two were giving each other the eye.
Friend 4: Can we just watch the show?
All this information (or should I say misinformation) has come from the Internet. Although we four friends are not at this moment surfing the web for answers of blogging our speculations, this conversation is a form of teleeparticipation. Essentially, if teleparticipation is the ways in which audiences engage with TV programming, then this is a clear example. In addition, the Internet changes this relationship by serving as a resource where fans can work out ideas surrounding shows and then share these ideas with the world (16). At the time, my friends continued to watch the show, but I feel confident in saying that at least one looked up something on Glee’s characters—or at least I did.
Lastly, think about the following statement: that which is not told to us is the most telling. The fact that we cannot readily state the relationship statuses of the show’s leads like we can for our friends (yes, facebook stalking is encouraged here) feels like a setup. The personal lives of these specific characters are held apart from the fans to create mystery and stimulate conversations like this one. As Ross states, the industry invites viewers to the teleparticipation party and therefore certain “behavioral expectations” and “rules” exist (21). These expectations take the form of maintaining the hype around the show’s characters, while giving the audience something to keep them hanging on.