BuzzFeed Unsolved

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Fandom
Name(s): BuzzFeed Unsolved
Abbreviation(s): BFU
Scope/Focus:
Date(s): 2016 - Present
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BuzzFeed Unsolved is a YouTube documentary series about Ryan Bergara and co-host Shane Madej investigating various mysteries. The pair's banter and skeptic-believer dynamic is the source of much of the appeal of the series. The series' popularity led to the launch of the BuzzFeed Unsolved Network YouTube channel in July 2018. As of January 2021, the channel has over 5.1 million subscribers.

In 2019, Ryan and Shane, along with BuzzFeed: Worth It creator Steven Lim, left BuzzFeed to form Watcher Entertainment, a company that officially launched in January 2020. Its channel has, as of January 2021, over 1.7 million subscribers.

The final season of BuzzFeed Unsolved aired from October to November of 2021. An apparent spiritual successor produced by Watcher Entertainment, Ghost Files, was announced just a few weeks later. It is set to premiere in 2022.

Canon

BuzzFeed Unsolved centers on the hosts, Ryan Bergara and Shane Madej, as they discuss various unexplained or unsolved events and phenomena. The show is split into two series, which typically alternate every season: True Crime and Supernatural. In True Crime, the hosts discuss a criminal cold case, typically confining themselves to their main set. In Supernatural, the hosts discuss paranormal phenomena, and often travel around the United States (and in one case, to the UK) to investigate said phenomena in person.

Ryan is a believer in most paranormal phenomena, such as ghosts, demons, and alien UFOs. Shane is a paranormal skeptic for just about everything (with the exception of a select few cryptids). This difference in opinion leads to many an argument on the show (and many a Mulder & Scully comparison), but does not put a damper on Ryan and Shane's real friendship.

While Ryan and Shane are the heart of the show, they are far from the only people involved in it - TJ Marchbank (former 1st AD), Devon Joralman (line producer) and Mark Celestino (cameraman) are just a few of the members of the behind-the-scenes crew keeping the show together. The show was originally hosted by Ryan and Brent Bennett, who left after nine episodes.

Fandom

BuzzFeed Unsolved gained popularity online during the first few months of its inception in February 2016; the formation of a dedicated fannish community began roughly a year later[1]. The first fic for the fandom on Archive of Our Own was posted in April 2017, and Tumblr blogs dedicated to Unsolved began to pop up that summer[2]. Fanart was also being created around this time, with some early vids being posted in the fall.

As of August 2021, there are over 4700 works in the Buzzfeed Unsolved fandom on AO3. The most popular relationship is Ryan Bergara/Shane Madej, with over 3700 works. Ships which involve the hosts' real-life significant others are also common.

The second most popular additional tag is "Demon Shane Madej" with over 400 tagged works – these are works that usually follow the premise that Shane is secretly a demon, and that this is why he is generally less afraid of paranormal activity. Given that the series itself is partially focused on the validity (or lack thereof) of supernatural phenomena, other forms of paranormal AUs (featuring angels, cryptids, aliens, and various other supernatural beings) are also popular in the fandom. These tropes are also popular visual motifs in fanart.

Crossovers with Buzzfeed: Worth It, another Youtube series created by Buzzfeed which has its own fandom, are somewhat common, as those involved in the shows are/were coworkers who interact in other Buzzfeed videos. The same can be said to a lesser extent with other BuzzFeed fandoms, such as The Try Guys and BuzzFeed: Ladylike. There is also considerable overlap between the Unsolved fandom and the Watcher Entertainment fandom (to the point where they are practically one and the same), as Ryan and Shane are at the forefront of both. As of August 2021, there are over 900 works on Archive of Our Own that use both fandom tags, making up the majority of fics in the Watcher tag.

Non-Canon Crossovers

As an RPF fandom with ties to other RPF fandoms, canonically feasible crossovers are common in the Unsolved fanworks. However, the following fictional fandoms (among others not listed) have also been crossed over with BFU multiple times:

Buzzfeed Unsolved as a Trope

On AO3, some fan writers in the Unsolved fandom seem to use the tag "buzzfeed unsolved au" (almost never capitalized) to label alternate universe fics. In other fandoms, buzzfeed unsolved au is a growing trope wherein two or more characters hunt ghosts and have a YouTube channel; a fusion crossover, in effect. Alternatively, fusion fics focus on Shane and Ryan investigating fictional mysteries; for example, a BFU/Stranger Things fusion may feature Ryan and Shane investigating the events of the series, with the fic written in the format of a typical Unsolved episode.

Fandom Nicknames

Fans of BuzzFeed Unsolved refer to themselves using a number of nicknames, most coined by the hosts themselves. These nicknames include:

  • Boogaras: fans who believe in the supernatural, like Ryan Bergara. Previous iterations of the nickname included "Ryantists" and "Rynosaurs".
  • Shaniacs: fans who are skeptical of the supernatural, like Shane Madej. Coined on-the-fly by Shane during an episode of Unsolved.
  • Shitfish/Reeders: fans whose beliefs are "in the middle", not aligning with Ryan's or Shane's. The name "shitfish" was coined during a Postmortem, in reference to the hosts' nickname for a decompressed blobfish. It is sometimes prefaced with "coward". "Reeder" came about during a later Postmortem, in reference to Reed, a girl who guest-starred on said Portmortem and held "in-between" beliefs.

Memes

Memes exist in all fandoms to some extent, but they are an especially prominent feature of the BuzzFeed Unsolved fandom. A screencap of Shane saying "Hey there demons, it's me, ya boy" went viral in both fannish and non-fannish spaces early in the show's run, and its popularity in the paranormal-loving environment of Tumblr may have been a key factor in the growth of and formation of the show's fandom.

Other memes spawned from the series include "I've connected the dots; You haven't connected shit", "Don't try it, demon", and a large number of "incorrect quotes" (some correctly attributed to episodes of Unsolved, others being mislabeled as such).

Example fanworks

Examples Wanted: Editors are encouraged to add more examples or a wider variety of examples.

Fanfiction

Various fanfics:

Fake buzzfeed episode fanfics:



Fanart

Fanvids

Resources

References

  1. ^ A Tumblr post from January 2018 listing events taking place within the fandom in 2017, including the creation of the fandom
  2. ^ The inaugural post of Tumblr user unsolvedbs; this blog, started on June 13 of 2017, appears to be the first blog entirely dedicated to BuzzFeed Unsolved.