The statement that best sums up my feelings about the fourth season of Community is that it felt like I was watching someone’s fanfiction. The writers loved the show, they understood some of the parts of it, but they didn't have the actual experience or narrative driven goals needed to make good content. At its best it was some fun scenes with characters I loved, at its worst it was pandering and making crazy things happen for the sake of trying to recapture what made the show great.
But, this sort of fandom driven television isn't necessarily always a bad thing. Another show that feels like fanfic to me at times is the new Nikita. Love of the original show and a deep desire to play out things from that show in a way more palatable to the writers is deep in the DNA of every single episode. Characters don’t get more Mary Sue than Alexis (tragic past, handpicked by Nikita, etc), and the Michael/Nikita relationships plays out in perfect fan dream fashion. And that’s sort of why I love it. It’s the show that La Femme Nikita fans would write, if we could get together as a group and write a show that exists wholly to express our love of the show. Yet, it never stops being its own story. It never stops trying to challenge the characters in real, new ways, and never falls back on the old show for any of its narrative weight and drama.
So the question I pose to you - What shows/movies/books feel like fanfic to you? What characters feel like Mary Sues? Is this good? Is this bad? Let’s explore that borderland between original stories and fan made content.