BuzzFeed Unsolved

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Fandom
Name(s): BuzzFeed Unsolved
Abbreviation(s): BFU
Scope/Focus:
Date(s): 2016 - 2021
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BuzzFeed Unsolved is a YouTube series where Ryan Bergara and co-host Shane Madej investigated various mysteries, alternating between true crime and the supernatural. The pair's banter and skeptic-believer dynamic was the source the series' appeal, and led to the launch of BuzzFeed Unsolved Network in July 2018, which currently has over 5 million subscribers in 2023.[1] It ran for seven seasons from 2016 to 2021, although two spiritual successors, Ghost Files and Mystery Files, are currently being produced by Watcher Entertainment.

It is the largest segment of the Buzzfeed fandom in terms of transformative engagement (The Try Guys are the biggest segment of the fandom in terms of watchers) at over five thousand works on AO3[2] and over a thousand on Wattpad.[3] The show is notable for being the origin of several memes within fandom such as "I disrespect your bridge, Goatman!"[4] and "I've connected the two dots."[5] as well as the trope of the "buzzfeed unsolved au."[6]

Canon

Ryan Bergara and Shane Madej seemingly ghost hunting in a church.
Buzzfeed Unsolved fanart by luluxa

BuzzFeed Unsolved centered on the hosts, Ryan Bergara and Shane Madej, as they discussed various unexplained or unsolved events and phenomena. There are actually two separate shows under this label, a "True Crime" show and a "Supernatural" show; these alternated every season. In "True Crime" seasons, Ryan and Shane discuss a criminal cold case and the various theories about it ranging from the plausible to the implausible. In "Supernatural" seasons, the pair instead discuss paranormal phenomena and travel around the United States (as well as Mexico and the UK, once each) to investigate these phenomena in person. Because Ryan believes in most paranormal phenomena (like ghosts, demons, and aliens visiting Earth) and Shane is skeptical of nearly every paranormal phenomena (except for a select few cryptids) they often argue on the show in a manner similar to Mulder & Scully.

These good-natured arguments and the strong friendship between Ryan and Shane forms the heart of the show, although they're far from the only people involved. The show has many behind the scenes crew members, including (but not limited to) TJ Marchbank (former 1st AD), Devon Joralman (line producer) and Mark Celestino (cameraman), who keep the show together. It was also originally hosted by Ryan and Brent Bennett, who left after nine episodes. The show had a short-lived spin-off in 2018 called BuzzFeed Unsolved: Sports Conspiracies that was hosted by Ryan and Zack Evans. The pair discussed mysteries and conspiracies in the sports fandom.

The final season of Buzzfeed Unsolved, a supernatural one, aired from October to November of 2021. In 2019, Ryan and Shane, along with BuzzFeed: Worth It creator Steven Lim, left BuzzFeed and formed Watcher Entertainment in January 2020. A few weeks after the final season aired, Watcher Entertainment announced the spiritual successor to Buzzfeed Unsolved: Supernatural, a show called Ghost Files which premiered in September 2022. In 2023, they announced a second spiritual successor, Mystery Files, which began airing later that year.

A notable feature of the show is the use of blue and yellow captions, usually on a back background, for some segments of the back and forth between Ryan and Shane. When fans want to recreate the feel of the show, this aspect often pops up.

The Hot Daga

A post-episode Q&A series, BuzzFeed Unsolved: Postmortem, involved Ryan and Shane answering fan questions related to the most recent episode. For a while, it also contained another show within the show called The Hot Daga which spawned a small fandom of its own. This show was written and performed by Shane, to the horror of Ryan, and ended on a cliffhanger in the fall of 2018. It followed the adventures of various anthropomorphic foods through time and space and can be considered a precursor to Puppet History's very involved lore.

Fandom

While 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.[7] The first fic for the fandom on AO3 was posted in April 2017,[8] and Tumblr blogs dedicated to Unsolved began to pop up that summer as well.[9] Fanart was also being created around this time,[10] with some early vids being posted from summer into fall.[11]

Crossovers with Buzzfeed: Worth It, another Youtube series created by Buzzfeed which has its own fandom, are somewhat common. The same can be said to a lesser extent with other BuzzFeed or BuzzFeed-adjacent 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 2022, there are over 1100 works on AO3 that use both fandom tags, making up the majority of fics in the Watcher tag.[12]

Buzzfeed Unsolved is by far the biggest segment of the Buzzfeed fandom in terms of fannish content produced. As of February 2023, there are over 5200 works in the Buzzfeed Unsolved fandom on AO3[2] and over a thousand on Wattpad, where tracking the number of works is more tricky.[3] The presence of the fandom on FanFiction.Net is even more difficult to track, as all YouTube series are lumped together under the "Web Shows" category, which also includes TTRPG fandoms such as Critical Role and non-RPF such as Sanders Sides, but there do appear to be at least a few fics.[13] The most popular relationship regardless of site is Ryan Bergara/Shane Madej, or "Shyan", with over 4000 works on AO3. Ships which involve Shane and Ryan's real life significant others, Sara Rubin and Marielle Scott, are also common on AO3.[2] On Wattpad, pairing the host with an OC or a Reader in an imagine are relatively common, while fics featuring their real S.O.s seem few and far between.[3] OT3s are less common, especially ones which do not include their significant others; though the Ryan/Shane/Steven Lim ("Steshyan") ship has somewhat increased in popularity since the launch of Watcher. Works which recast Ryan and Shane as their fanon alter egos Ricky Goldsworth[14] and C.C. Tinsley[15] are also common; there are over 150 works on AO3 which are tagged for Ricky Goldsworth/C.C. Tinsley ("Tinsworth").[2]

Among the most popular tropes in the fandom is Demon Shane Madej, with over 500 tagged works on AO3[16] and another 500 or so on Wattpad.[17] These fanworks usually follow the premise that Shane is secretly a demon to explain his lack of fear related to paranormal activity.[4] Since the series is partially focused on the validity (or lack thereof) of supernatural phenomena, other forms of paranormal AUs such as angels, cryptids, ghosts, aliens, and various other supernatural beings are also popular in the fandom. These tropes are popular as visual motifs in fanart as well.

This also extends to the non-Buzzfeed crossovers that are common in the fandom. For example, Good Omens and Supernatural crossovers are relatively common, as are crossovers with the MCU and (perhaps surprisingly) Percy Jackson and the Olympians. As these examples show, fandoms with paranormal phenomena (especially demons) in their canon are more likely to cross over with Unsolved.

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, some 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

The duo of Ryan and Shane are known as Ghoul Boys, and fans of BuzzFeed Unsolved also 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.[18]

Memes

While memes exist in every fandom, Buzzfeed Unsolved is unique in that it is the origin of several popular image memes that have gone viral in both fannish and non-fannish spaces. These memes have been popular since early in the show's run and the combination of the show's memeable quality with the paranormal-loving environment of Tumblr may have been a key factor in the growth of the show's fandom. Several of the memes are commonly redrawn in fanart and quotes from the show are frequently used as Incorrect Quotes in other fandoms.[19][20][21]

Prominent memes from Buzzfeed Unsolved include Shane saying "Hey there, demons. It's me, ya boy." which he said during their investigation of Bobby Mackey's Music World.[22] An exchange between Shane and Ryan from their JonBenét Ramsey episode is also popular, usually used when the poster has made an extremely tenuous connection between two things.[23] A segment from the episode about The Goatman's Bridge is also frequently memed on (and also used as fuel for the Demon Shane joke/trope).[4]

Example Fanworks

Fanfiction

Various fanfics:

Fake buzzfeed episode fanfics:

Fanart

Primers

Fanvids

Challenges

Resources

References

  1. ^ Buzzfeed Unsolved Network. Accessed 14 Feb 2023.
  2. ^ a b c d Buzzfeed Unsolved (Web Series) Tag. Accessed 14 Feb 2023.
  3. ^ a b c "Buzzfeed Unsolved" Search on Wattpad. Accessed 14 Feb 2023.
  4. ^ a b c shane is a demon - Goatman's Bridge. Posted 6 Nov 2017. Accessed 14 Feb 2023.
  5. ^ I've connected the dots meme. Posted 29 Aug 2019. Accessed 14 Feb 2023.
  6. ^ Alternate Universe - Buzzfeed Unsolved Fusion Tag on AO3. Accessed 14 Feb 2023.
  7. ^ memorable 2017 buzzfeed unsolved fandom moments. Posted 18 Jan 2018. Accessed 14 Feb 2023.
  8. ^ Sallie House by ryanmadej. Posted 16 Apr 2017. Accessed 14 Feb 2023.
  9. ^ hey yall new buzzfeed unsolved blog by unsolvedbs. Posted 13 June 2017. Accessed 14 Feb 2023. This blog appears to be the first entirely dedicated to BuzzFeed Unsolved on Tumblr, and this is its inaugural post.
  10. ^ Art by fukin-keith-kogane. Posted 12 June 2017. Accessed 14 Feb 2023. This may be the earliest completed piece of fanart for Unsolved.
  11. ^ buzzfeed unsolved true crime trailer // r. i. c. o. edit by Bensonismymom. Posted 28 July 2017. Accessed 14 Feb 2023. Possibly the first fanvid for Unsolved, not counting a shitpost released by the same creator earlier that month. Please heed the warning for flashing lights.
  12. ^ Works in "Buzzfeed Unsolved (Web Series)" also tagged "Watcher Entertainment RPF". Accessed 14 Feb 2023.
  13. ^ Web Shows category on FanFiction.Net. Accessed 14 Feb 2023.
  14. ^ The Creepy Murder in Room 1046. Posted 1 Sept 2017. Accessed 14 Feb 2023. This was the first appearance of Ricky Goldsworth.
  15. ^ The Mysterious Disappearance of the Sodder Children. Posted 23 Dec 2016. Accessed 14 Feb 2023. This episode introduced C.C. Tinsley. Notably, Tinsley was also a real detective involved in the Sodders' investigation.]
  16. ^ Demon Shane Madej Tag on AO3. Accessed 14 Feb 2023.
  17. ^ "demonshane" Search on Wattpad. Accessed 14 Feb 2023.
  18. ^ USS Yorktown - Q+A feat. Special Guest Reed. Posted 9 Oct 2019. Accessed 14 Feb 2023. This is the episode in which the term 'Reeder' is first used.
  19. ^ Tumblr Post. Posted 2 Jul 2022. Accessed 14 Feb 2023.
  20. ^ Tumblr Post. Posted 23 Sept 2022. Accessed 14 Feb 2023.
  21. ^ Tumblr Post. Posted 2 Feb 2023. Accessed 14 Feb 2023.
  22. ^ Hey There Demons on Know Your Meme. Posted 16 Aug 2017. Accessed 14 Feb 2023.
  23. ^ I've Connected the Two Dots on Know Your Meme. Posted 24 May 2019. Accessed 14 Feb 2023.
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