What We Talk About When We Talk About Fan Theories

I’ve been trying to write this article for a while. Years. While I try to avoid listicles, I’ve found that, at times, they have their uses. These are my opinions and observations on what we talk about when we talk about fan theories, and what they are, and how we should talk about them.

No one has an agreed-upon definition for “fan theory.”

Fan theory is not listed on Urban Dictionary. It is not explained on Know Your Meme. Even the /r/FanTheories subreddit does not have any official stance on what makes a fan theory a fan theory.

This is largely because the phrase “fan theory” means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. Part of why I’m writing this is to reach some kind of definition and meaning, and to refute what I see as being inaccurate uses of the phrase.

A fan theory is a form of contemporary critical theory, in which the audience analyzes the text and creates a new interpretation that explains “what really happened,” creating a separate narrative aside from or within the narrative.

This is what I’ve come up with. I don’t know if it’s perfect, but I think it says a lot.

Now, more importantly, I’d like to explore both what makes a fan theory good and what makes a fan theory bad and what makes a fan theory not a fan theory. Part of this will include citing particularly good and bad fan theories.

westworld-theory.jpg
And yes, I’ll address so-called Westworld fan theories.

A weak fan theory is anything that suggests “it was all a dream” or “the main character was dead the whole time” or any variation of this.

Continue reading “What We Talk About When We Talk About Fan Theories”

Advertisements

How Hulu’s The Path is an Homage to Dennis Reynolds

Update: this article contains spoilers for only the first season of The Path. Apparently the show is now on its third season.

I’m stunned to say I’ve seen every episode of Hulu’s bizarre cult drama The Path. It’s somewhere between a guilty pleasure and an amusing frustration, ten episodes of Scientology-mocking melodrama starring a cast of actors from your favorite shows: Michelle Monaghan of True Detective, Aaron Paul of Breaking Bad, and Hugh Dancy of Hannibal

As I watched the first several episodes, I found myself distracted by Hugh Dancy’s character Cal Roberts, the up-and-coming charismatic leader of the Meyerist Movement. Who does he remind me of, I wanted to know. And then it occurred to, somewhere in the middle of the season: his character resembled Glenn Howerton’s Dennis Reynolds from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. In fact, I have become convinced that Hugh Dancy is intentionally modeling his acting on Howerton’s depiction of Dennis Reynolds, and that the writers of The Path may have been inspired by Always Sunny. 

cal-roberts
Hugh Dancy as Cal Roberts in The Path

Let’s investigate. Continue reading “How Hulu’s The Path is an Homage to Dennis Reynolds”