Shadowhunters: Freeform apologizes to fans after ill-advised attempt to troll them backfires
Note to Disney: When you feel like trolling someone it's best you don't attempt to troll the largest fanbase in the world
UPDATE: After the global backlash against a snide caption that popped-up during the airing of Toy Story 1 on Freeform, the network, owed by Disney, has unreservedly apologized to Shadowhunters fans.
This was a mistake. We never intended to disrespect the Shadowhunters fandom. We apologize for this. https://t.co/CNz7Tv6FQ1— Freeform (@FreeformTV) December 16, 2018
It would be easy to paint this as a David and Goliath battle, but calling Disney David might be a bit much. Well not Disney exactly, more to the point, Freeform, who seem to have woken up Saturday morning believing that trolling the world’s largest TV show fanbase was a good idea. It wasn’t.
When Duhneese (@malecdsrvbetter) settled down on Saturday night to watch Toy Story on Freeform, he expected another fun run at a Pixar classic. What the Shadowhunters’ saw, however, would leave him perplexed, frustrated, and eventually seething.
"FreeformTV was playing Toy Story it was a 'pop up’ version of it with facts from/about the movie. This popped up as one of the tidbits. Every other pop up I had seen was actually related to the movie in some way unlike this,” he wrote on Twitter.
Just a further explanation: @FreeformTV was playing Toy Story today it was a “pop up” version of it with facts from/about the movie. This popped up as one of the tid bits. Every other pop up I had seen was actually related to the movie in some way unlike this.— duhneese (@malecdsrvbetter) December 15, 2018
In a scene featuring Woody and Buzz, Andy is told that he can only take one toy with him. Woody, worried that Andy might not pick him, grabs a Magic 8-ball and asks it: “Will Andy pick me?”. The answer on the 8-ball says: "Don't count on it".
So far so good, and then a pop up appears just as the “don’t count on it” is shown on the screen, with the question heard around the world: "Will Freeform save Shadowhunters if I keep tweeting about it?"
For You - Xfinity Stream - Google Chrome 12_15_2018 4_10_43 PM.mp4— bobbi (@bobtwo999) December 16, 2018
This item will be shared. pic.twitter.com/GngqaKHyFl
Duhneese immediately wanted to confirm what he had seen and got on Twitter to reach out to the West Coast in the hope of a fan catching the same scene there when the film aired. “I understand some people being skeptical, and I wish I had recorded the moment rather than take a photo. I assume the West Coast (of the US) is having a similar marathon, maybe someone on that side of the country can record Toy Story and see if this shows up,” he wrote.
Seems kind of messed up for @FreeformTV to show this during toy story? Funny how they can make fun of #SaveShadowhunters and yet continue to use one of the actors from the show they cancelled to promote their 25 days of Christmas. @ShumDarioNews @BasicShadowStuf you seen this?! pic.twitter.com/jmN5xivmo8— duhneese (@malecdsrvbetter) December 15, 2018
They did, and the thunder began.
From Rio to Rome and Cape Town to Chicago, millions of Shadowhunters fans began to stir. Being trolled by fans of other shows is one thing, being trolled by your show's own network another completely. It’s a sinking feeling that swells into anger when the network for whom your fandom helped bring in tons of cash decides to cock its leg on you.
Everybody needs to just move on ... from Freeform. Clearly it’s past their nap time.— Carolyn M. (@CMcatz) December 16, 2018
Through the feedback form, I asked them to explain why they would do something like this to fans and the show. It's so disappointing, yet it fuels my fire to fight even harder. #SaveShadowhunters #Shadowhunters— C.B. Wentworth (@cbwentworth) December 16, 2018
Many people held off and waited for confirmation because it does seem unlikely that a network would mock and try to humiliate fans of a show that still airs on their network. Just another reminder they really do hate us. Thanks for sharing.— Lauren McGuire (@Lauren_McGuire_) December 16, 2018
Did Freeform do this deliberately as a part of a weird corporate strategy of biting the hand that feeds you, or was this a case of an errant member of staff going rogue? Only Freeform knows the answer and we have reached out to them for a comment.
There’s a lot of anger out there, but unfortunately in this case Freeform holds the Aces. With the last part of the final season of Shadowhunters, on that network, set to air in Feb, Freeform knows that fans will tune in come what may, and that’s what makes their jibe all the more cutting.
The question is have they misjudged the fans? What if this was the straw that broke the camel’s back, what if the millions of fans simply boycott the show? What if no one watches. It’s a brave and maybe even foolhardy move, a sort of cutting off your nose to spite your face moment, but it could happen. Freeform may have finally unlocked Pandora’s Box, and it may take more than daddy's Avengers to close it.