Baron and Toluca: The Evolution of a Fandom
The internet was once their rally ground, now a fanbase responsible for birthing the modern fandom campaign movement is mobilizing online once again.
In the late 90s and early 00s, to be a loyal fan to your prescribed TV show of choice, you had to really work for it. And none more so than the fans of Roswell, which aired 1999–2002.
Before social media and on-demand television streaming, fans had to be particularly creative and innovative in their approach to supporting their beloved TV shows. They would rely heavily on promo sneak peeks for upcoming episodes, loyally await their weekly scheduled airing, record the episodes onto VHS tapes for later re-watches, and often read the advance issue of the TV guide’s episode synopsis with fervour. To be a super fan, you really had to work for it.
Roswell fans? They were in a league of their own. For a teen sci-fi series that ran for three seasons without huge amounts of notoriety, Roswell fans were — and still are — obsessively devoted to their beloved cult show. So devoted in fact, that they are arguably responsible for mobilizing on the internet to birth the modern fandom campaign movement.
Tabasco to the rescue
Combining a heady mix of sci-fi, relationships, dramedy and angst, along with brilliantly crafted “gray” characters, Roswell captured the hearts of a generation. Unless you were part of this fandom (or the original cast & crew), you likely won’t truly understand the deep bond that was forged during the show’s airing — and which still exists ’til this day. Maybe it was a turn-of-the-millennium thing, but there was something about Roswell that just hit right.
So when the Roswell fandom received wind of their beloved show’s impending cancellation after its first season, they took it upon themselves to prove to the WB Network just how strongly they supported the continuation of the series. In a collaborative effort spurred by fan website Crashdown, fans from around the globe sent thousands of Tabasco sauce bottles (a favorite dietary quirk of the characters on the show) into the execs at WB headquarters. The Network received such a relentless stream of sauce’n’support on an international scale (22,000 emails were also received), that they conceded (probably with heartburn) to keep Roswell for a second season — and then a third season with UPN.
The fandom spoke, seized the internet as their rally ground, and the network listened. And it appears this very same subculture are now paving the way for the evolution of fandom once again.
They’re mostly 20+ years older and wiser now, and yet you can still find a swathe of original Roswell fans online across the globe — hashtagging “Roswell Forever” and commemorating the series with anniversaries, podcasts, fan art and re-watches. It’s safe to say that this fandom is still very much alive and kicking.
The introduction of social media, smartphones and online streaming has made it a lot easier for fandoms to voice their opinions and support for their chosen shows. But with Hollywood churning out re-make after reboot, and spin-off after reimagining, there appears to be a level of dissent amongst fandoms at large.
As Melissa and Kate from This Time Around Podcast so effortlessly describe, “you’ve had something that has concluded, and you’ve had this ending in your head for so long — and if things don’t turn out the way you want them to, inevitably there’s a feeling of disappointment.” Passionate fans of original TV shows are often in two minds about whether to watch new offerings for this very reason; because they are usually so wedded to the original.
Therein lies the problem. They have the passion. They have the drive. So what does the Roswell fandom want?
Baron and Toluca
The magic of the fandom has not gone unnoticed by ex Roswell co-stars Brendan Fehr and Majandra Delfino, and because of this their passion project — Baron and Toluca — has been suitably dubbed a “love letter to the fans”.
Not a reboot or a spin-off, Baron and Toluca combines a brilliant mix of sci-fi and dramedy that viewers won’t have seen the likes of since the X-Files. It’s essentially Roswell for grown ups. Whilst paying homage to their fans’ craving for something that encompassed all the best bits from Roswell days, Baron and Toluca is still very much its own entity.
The plot for Baron and Toluca is pure genius; following ex co-stars and exes in real life, Jake Baron (Fehr) and Toluca Mendez (Delfino) find themselves reluctantly thrown together thanks to a paranormal incident. The two trailers released so far include masterfully included easter eggs which pay homage to Delfino and Fehr’s characters from Roswell, yet skilfully do not eclipse the premise of the series for new fans joining the action. Sometimes to capture the essence and magic of an original TV series from yesteryear, you need to think outside the box to generate new interest, while simultaneously keeping the original fans enthralled. And enthralled they are.
From fans to dans
Delfino and Fehr’s genuine appreciation for their fans (dubbed “dans”) is evident in all of their social interactions — and the feelings are inherently mutual. Fehr has previously referred to the fandom as one “big ole weird family you wanna have a seat at the table for”, and it couldn’t be any truer. Not only are there questionable hashtags that only a fan would understand the histrionics of, there are hand signals, crab-walks (don’t ask…) and even karaoke etiquette that together produce a slew of personal jokes between the stars and the fandom.
Based on the history and dedication of their fans, you’d be forgiven for thinking Baron and Toluca is already a sure-fire bet with Hollywood. However pitching a new project to the network execs is not dissimilar from trying to find your home planet without the Granilith (sorry, inside joke) — it’s just not easily done. And if it is, there’s usually a list of compromises that come with it. But when you have a fandom that was responsible for single-handedly saving a show from cancellation not once but twice, and who have remained devoted for the last 20 years, there is another route to consider…
Crowd funding is the new Tabasco
Baron and Toluca’s crowd-funding campaign kicked off on Indiegogo on the 9th of October 2020 and will run for 45 days, with the goal to fund a pilot episode of the series. In 20 minutes from launching, they’d cracked 20%. In less than a day, they’d reached half way. Their perks (incentives that fans opt to purchase towards the funding goal) speak right to the heart of their fans’ nostalgia, and the exclusive releases of props from the show, to zoom meetings with the cast have fans on tenterhooks for what’s being released next.
Fehr and Delfino have also listed Baron and Toluca merchandise including tees, hoodies, coffee tumblers and autographed postcard comics. The more exclusive perks have been released in phases to their early subscribers — phase three being this weekend, October 24th at 9am PST. Some of the most coveted are still to come; karaoke nights, golf and spa days with Fehr and Delfino, as well as the ring that Fehr once wore when he played Michael Guerin on Roswell. To say their fans are on tenterhooks would be a vast understatement.
With their campaign goal reached a fortnight from launching, the Baron and Toluca pilot is now a distinct reality. And the fandom show no signs of slowing down in their endeavour to make Baron and Toluca an ongoing series. With over 30 days left on the campaign, their stretch goals are now firmly in sight.
Reboots aren’t always the remedy— Baron and Toluca is. Or so say over $100,000 worth of a dedicated fanbase. This call to arms has well and truly been answered.
Get your own seat at the table of this big ole weird family, by checking out Baron and Toluca’s Indiegogo campaign here. Trust us when we say, you want to be part of this revolution.
~ By Hailey Rodger