Three’s a trend! True Blood, Twilight and the Theater of Terror

by Smartie on September 23, 2010

With the success of the vampire genre, several "horror theater" shows got a media boost with a trend piece

While journalists often joke about the old adage “three’s a trend!” but trend stories can make for excellent feature opportunities. And while some consider trend stories downright ridiculous, in the world of arts and culture journalism, trend stories are extremely important to a tiny company.

If pitching a trend story, the joke is true. You will need at LEAST three examples of the trend you are pitching to truly make it a trend.

So, what it a trend? Anything that is similar between your project and at least two others.

You need to use your head with this. Obviously, three brunette playwrights does not make a trend. The best trend piece is to be able to find a few examples within your peer group, and then branch out and look at the bigger picture. Trends within targer companies or trends in film and television can help a below the radar company grab a piece of the spotlight.

Genres often make excellent trend pieces. A great example is Jason Zinoman’s recent horror genre piece To Bleed or Not to Bleed? Plays Explore the Scary. Jason explores a recent trend of new plays distinctly influenced by horror films. Of course,  scary plays are not new. But if you look at several of them happening at the same time during a broader pop culture moment that embraces the scary (Twilight, HBO’s True Blood), it is ripe for the trend.

Back in the 90s,when the movie Titanic became the biggest grossing film of all time, I experienced cultural kismet. An Off Broadway show I was working on was also about the Titanic. Completely different from the movie, of course, but there were plenty of trend pieces!

Also back in the 90s there was an explosion of really excellent solo shows. Guess who got a bunch of trend pieces? Those really excellent solo shows. Early 2000s? It was the triumphant return of vaudeville and burlesque.

In each case, there were several shows that were thematically similar happening at around the same time. Often, something was happening in the larger cultural moment that made the story even more attractive to the writer and the outlet.

So, take a look around you. Is there something happening in this cultural moment that you can turn into a trend piece? Is something sweeping television, film or books that you could tap into? How about music? Visual art? Video games? Comic books? Find the similarities and try to put it together as a trend.

Just a word of warning–there really has to be a discernible trend. You can’t bullshit your way into a trend story! And trend stories can be a tough sell. But if you are lucky enough to be part of a cultural zeitgeist, it’s a terrific story to tell.


Emily Owens September 25, 2010 at 5:34 pm

Flattered that you used a feature on one of my clients as an example. I must be doing something right!

Smartie September 25, 2010 at 11:17 pm

Very well done, Emily!

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