I'm a huge fan of the Showtime show "Nurse Jackie." The writing is smart, the performances are brilliant (Merritt Wever deserves twelve Emmys a year for her portrayal of nursing student Zoey) and they practically glide over the tightrope betwixt comedy/drama.
While it was handled a bit ham-handed in the episode "I AM ON TWITTER! I AM TWEETING THIS!" (excuse the paraphrasing) I applaud the efforts of the Nurse Jackie team and Showtime for leaping into the pool of transmedia entertainment.
The super-smartypants Gennefer Snowfield said, I'm not convinced a half hour sitcom need be an immersive transmedia experience. I actually agree. However, if you're going to dip your toe in the water to get the temperature, I think that knowing something about the water is in order.
My criticism stems from the fact that I want these types of transmedia initiatives to succeed. This is a huge part of what I do now, so I want there to continue to be a growing market to extend the narrative through whatever platforms make sense.
A little background: from August - November 2009, I played over 11 different characters for two different shows (Valemont had nine Twitter accounts, Woke Up Dead had two.) I spoke about the experience and how to use Twitter for characters in my talk at the 140 Conference "How I Became a Zombie on Twitter."
Here are the things that "ping" me about @DoctorCoop.
Discovering the account:
I understand that the whole "I AM ON TWITTER! I AM TWEETING THIS!" was the result of a note (or the thought) that part of your audience may not know what Twitter is. That's okay. Remember that in consuming entertainment, we have a choice.
You cannot force your viewers to learn what Twitter is. You cannot force your viewers to care. But trust that your viewers are smart, and those who will want to participate, will. You don't need to bash them over the head with it. Discovery is part of the fun for people who want to truly engage.
Staying True to Characters:
You've set up an antagonistic relationship between Jackie & Dr. Cooper. Jackie knows that he's Tweeting. Why would he be tweeting under his full name, with a photo of himself?
Jackie would get him fired in a heartbeat. If Twitter is going to play a part in the show's storyline (Dr. Cooper gets clipped for talking about patients, co-workers, etc.) this could be interesting.
But if I AM TWEETING is going to be ignored in your show from now on, then give Dr. Cooper the brains (that he supposedly has) and let him be a little more discreet. Change his photo. Morph his name. Give him a little plausible deniability.
The Devil is in the Details:
Timelines: Look at this tweet from today. I'm in PST, so this was posted around 7am PST today, Tuesday, March 30.
The "cys fib" episode took place yesterday (Monday, March 29.) Is Dr. Cooper confused? Is he still at work? Jackie has already gone home, so she was there yesterday. (Not to mention this tweet on March 28th, referring to Hair tickets that weren't given out until the episode on March 29.) Keep yourself grounded in what time it really is (and on EST, since that's where Dr. Cooper lives) and where you are at that moment.
Apps: Doctor Cooper tweeted from his cell phone yesterday. But if you look at the above, it shows that he's using a tool called "CoTweet." CoTweet's slogan is "How Business Does Twitter." Which reminds us that we are not following @DocCooper but a business. There are fabulous Twitter apps out there that make it easy to track multiple accounts - Seesmic (which I used to manage my 11 accounts), Tweetdeck, Tweetie to name a few. A quick adjustment and we're right back in the thick of it.
The fact is that we all know @DoctorCoop isn't real. The question is this: Do you want a "One Twit Wonder" or do you want to hook an audience that is active and engaged? If it's the latter, you have to respect their savvy. After the newness wears off, they'll notice these things (if they haven't already.)
I believe (and in my experience from the shows I've worked on) the way to blur the lines between fantasy and reality means keeping it grounded in not only our reality but the one that the Nurse Jackie world has created. I've written television. I know how difficult it is to get a vision across that isn't a watered-down version of what began on the page. Nurse Jackie is truly a great show, and I applaud their (and Showtime's) efforts for making the leap onto Twitter.
But you have worked hard to create these stories. Make sure that you serve them wherever they are.
The writing doesn't stop just because it's on the Internet.
Note: I also have thoughts on your Facebook page. But I've worked for free enough today. :)
If you'd like to hear more, you can find me here.