Retta, TV's No. 1 Fan
So, how’d she turn tweeting about TV into a second career?
Bored one day in her Parks trailer, Retta began watching Breaking Bad. ”It was the season with the cousins, and I was having panic attacks,” she remembers, adding that she didn’t understand Twitter at the time. ”I was tweeting, ‘Too freaked out. I don’t know if I should watch anymore.’ Fans became my support system. Then I started watching stuff that was really funny, and I would just write smart-ass comments. That’s how I got followers.”
She never tweets live, instead posting as she catches up via DVR. To follow along, fans often request her delayed-viewing schedule, but Retta says such a thing doesn’t exist — she has no idea when she’ll watch what. ”I feel guilty,” she admits, ”that I have three episodes of True Blood on my DVR right now.” The delay hasn’t deterred fans, though: Her handle, @unfoRETTAble, currently boasts more than 144,000 (rather engaged) followers.
The Time Commitment
It depends on how much Retta is working, but she notes that her methods require more than just 60 minutes for an hour-long show, especially if it’s on premium cable. ”If it’s an HBO hour, a true hour, I won’t watch unless I know I have two hours,” she explains. Network series take a little less time. ”There’s a lot more s— to talk about on HBO.”
Retta is in demand. When it became clear that she didn’t have Showtime, the network’s PR team sent her discs of Homeland. ”I watched it in, like, two days — the whole series.” In June HBO employed her as a superfan to host a premiere party for True Blood with the drama’s cast, and she even hosted the third annual Critics’ Choice Television Awards.
Where does Retta’s TV twitticism empire go from here? Her goal is to launch an Andy Cohen-style series that focuses on television. The comedian has been mulling ”a live show and a podcast,” she says. ”It’d have an audience and guests, and then we’d just talk about TV.”
What’s on Retta’s DVR
The comedian has two(!) DVRs, so this is just a tiny sampling of what she’s watching
Devious Maids (Lifetime)
I like the Desperate Housewives vibe. It’s campy, but there’s some mystery involved, and I love how it’s shot. It’s a colorful show. I’m very aesthetic, so I like bright colors. They wear these corals and yellows and bring colors that I like. When I was younger I hated M*A*S*H, I hated Sanford and Son, because they didn’t have any color on them.
True Blood (HBO)
It’s funny. As titillating as the sex stuff is, Lafayette kills me. He’s the reason I stayed watching it the first season into the second. Eric had him in that dungeon. It was deep! This s— got real! At first I was like, ”Ah, this is kind of goofy.” As much as I watch vampire things, I’m not really into vampires and werewolves, but now I am because there’s such good story with these shows.
Cougar Town (TBS)
I started watching it last season when it was on ABC, before it switched to TBS. It has taken over even Will & Grace for me. I watch it before I go to sleep.
Key & Peele (Comedy Central)
They’re really smart writers, and I’m fascinated by Jordan [Peele] when he plays women and gangster types. I feel like he has a place in his mind with multiple personalities that he’s able to access. It just cracks me up.
Kroll Show (Comedy Central)
Nick Kroll is killing me. I recognize those characters he does. I’m from Jersey, so I get all those obnoxious, ridiculous characters, like publicity girls, who were basically those girls in high school that I couldn’t stand.