Follow the Fellow Who Follows Fifty-Five Other Followers

shawn ryan Twitter superstar

If you’re on Twitter, interested in TV news and observations, and want to know who to follow (besides that @weinmanj guy), a good place to look is Josef Adalian’s list of “50 TV Insiders To Follow.” It includes Twitterers who work in TV, like Canada’s own Hart Hanson (creator of Bones) aka @HartHanson, and the many TV critics and bloggers who share their thoughts on the site, including friends of this blog like @TVoti (Todd VanDerWerff of The AV Club).

Twitter seems to be particularly well-suited to TV writers, who don’t usually have time to blog, but are good at making pithy one-line observations or writing brief thoughts on whatever is going on that day on the set. Shawn Ryan, creator of The Shield and The Unit and currently running Lie To Me, is particularly good at this. On his Twitter feed at ShawnRyanTV, he plugs his current show, offers quick observations on the writing process, talks about the other shows he likes, and, of course, says nasty things about NBC. Because if you think I’m the only one who is obsessed with NBC, you’re sadly mistaken. (Ryan got a lot of attention because he was the first to Tweet the cancellation of Southland; he also snarked that they  “even managed to lose the Seinfeld reunion to another network.”) And let’s not forget the ferocious campaign for followers; with regards to Hanson, he wrote: “that Canadian has 12,000+ followers? How is a true American like me losing?” (He was kidding. Really.)

Twitter is a conversational medium, and a lot of Tweeting consists of back-and-forth dialogue — but in a way it’s most valuable as a “microblogging” site. By using Twitter, showbiz insiders who don’t blog are essentially blogging in all but name: they’re posting links, sharing their thoughts. But at least at this point, it’s harder for them to get in trouble over their Twitter participation (unless they say something really outrageous), because the medium requires less time and no grammar, and because all but a few Tweets tend to “disappear” in a way that blog posts don’t, meaning that an old Tweet is less likely to come back to haunt them. Of course an individual Tweet can’t provide greater insight the way a good blog post can (in theory). But you can get some valuable information if you find the insider feeds that are mostly about their work and their business, rather than what video game they’re playing and what kind of burrito they ate while playing it.

Looking for more?

Get the Best of Maclean's sent straight to your inbox. Sign up for news, commentary and analysis.