A TV movie about shark-infested tornadoes took the internet by storm last night, marking one of the most bizarre social media events in recent memory. Syfy’s Sharknado, a disaster film starring Tara Reid and a cast of other C-list actors, debuted at 9 PM EST Thursday night, igniting a firestorm of tweets and snark. As a series of water cyclones swept up bloodthirsty sharks and dropped them over a fictionalized Los Angeles, a similarly epic conversation was unfolding on Twitter. The premiere didn’t draw an especially huge TV audience — between 1 and 2 million tuned in — but it gained much deeper traction online, with SyFy describing it as the network’s “most social telecast ever.”
If you were on Twitter at virtually any time Thursday evening, it was almost impossible to avoid mention of Sharknado. Celebrities like Damon Lindelof and Patton Oswalt spent much of the night tweeting sarcastic one-liners, headlining an online viewing party that included everyone from Newark’s mayor, Cory Booker, to Mia Farrow.