I took two chickens out of the smoker and carried them into the kitchen, where Anne was mixing up some potato salad and heating a couple cans of baked beans. Ryan and his girlfriend walked into the house, with Nolan shortly after them.
“Are you excited?” Anne asked me.
“I … guess? Not really.” I began to carve the chickens for our dinner.
“The excited part is when I’m on the stage in front of the audience, everything else is various levels of anxiety while I wait.” My incredibly sharp knife slipped in my hand and cut my finger. “Ow! Shit!”
My finger began to bleed, and I wrapped a towel around it.
“Okay, so … this is going to take a few more minutes before it’s ready,” I said.
A few minutes later, we all sat down to eat dinner, while we waited for the first episode of The Wil Wheaton Project to come on.
As Heroes of Cosplay ended and little versions of me popped up on the screen reminding people to stay tuned for my stupid face, I turned to Anne. “Okay, I just got excited.”
I did a little dance when the show started, and enjoyed myself through the entire thing. My kids thought it was really funny, and my son’s girlfriend, who had never seen any of it at all, told me that she loved it. “It would have been very awkward if I hadn’t,” she told me.
We celebrated with some ice cream cones, the kids left, and Anne and I celebrated with some champagne.
Before I went to bed, I looked at Twitter, prepared for people to hate it, and me, but most everyone seemed to like the show, which made me feel good.
When I woke up this morning, I looked at the news for reviews, and found that most places liked it (we got a B from the AV Club, which is like an A+ anywhere else), some really didn’t, and some were sort of “meh” on the whole thing. It’s about what I expected, but I wasn’t expecting the reviewers who didn’t like it to complain that I wasn’t mean or snarky enough. It’s disheartening that people would tune into a show expecting and hoping for someone to be mean, but if that’s what they want, this isn’t the show for them.
Some of the feedback was really useful, and lined up with my own thoughts: My energy at the beginning of the show was way too high (I wanted to keep it lower and more like myself, but I was directed to be BIGGER BIGGER BIGGER, so I’m trusting my instincts and being more myself next week), and the audio was weird in places. Some people complained about a laugh track that doesn’t exist (we shoot in a small stage with a full audience that’s very loud, which is good), but overall, the feedback was generally positive.
The biggest disappointment for me is our ratings numbers. They were not as good as I’d hoped, and I don’t know why. Though we did better than anything that’s been in our time slot before, we lost about half the audience that was watching Heroes of Cosplay, which surprised me. People who understand that stuff better than I do told me not to worry, because shows like ours usually start out with a small audience that grows, as word of mouth spreads. I hope they’re right. There’s also something called “Live +3″ which is the total ratings number that includes people who watch the show on their DVR in the three days after the show first airs, and we expect those numbers to grow.
This whole ratings thing seems outdated and irrelevant to me, because it doesn’t take into account cord-cutters, who I know are a significant part of the audience, and I guess the fact that two different topics associated with our show were trending on Twitter doesn’t count for anything, either. What this says to me is that the industry needs to rethink how it scores things, and networks especially need to find ways to get their programming to people the way those people want to see it, whether that’s on demand, on a site like Hulu +, on Apple TV, Google Play, or whatever else the damn kids today are into. There’s a very real chance that I won’t get to do more than 12 episodes of this show because so many people who want to watch it don’t subscribe to cable, and that makes me really sad.
Overall, though, the things that I had a hand in, and the things I could control from a creative point of view, seemed to land on the majority of the audience in a good way. People expecting me to be a dick.0 didn’t like it, and that’s totally fine with me. Now that I’ve had my brief moment of excitement (and it was genuinely awesome to watch the show with my family, and find out from thousands of people on Twitter that they liked it), I’m back to the focus and varying levels of anxiety that come with getting ready for the next one.