Television shows

TV shows should stop while they are ahead

There is a feeling of anticipated fear that I feel about the endings. I want them to come, because after all the shocking and thrilling plot points, after all the twists and turns, I want to see the related details. I want to see how the themes in the work come together, and I want to see the characters I’ve grown to love find a fitting ending. And I dread them, because once the end comes, there will be nothing. I won’t be able to listen to another episode next week, I won’t be looking forward to the next movie that hits theaters this summer.

Over the past decade, I have become attached to a truly impressive number of franchises. At the moment, I can only think of one that ended really well, and two more that ended in an acceptable way.

I delayed viewing the finale of “The Good Place” for over two weeks. I opened Netflix and watched the final episode, tempted to click “play” but knowing I didn’t want it to end. But in February of this year, I finally gave in. The end was magnificent. That made me laugh; it made me cry. He took the character arcs and moral themes from the show and presented them to me, completed, on a silver platter.

The reason is the duration of the show. “The Good Place” ran for four seasons, and before the last season started, everyone knew it would be the last. The show was allowed to run long enough to explore the questions she asked, and no longer. Its popularity didn’t save it from its end, so there weren’t any extra seasons on the show just because a network knew it would attract viewers regardless of the quality of the content. The same goes for my two “acceptable” shows, “Hannibal” and “Legion”. The two only ran for three seasons.

The same cannot be said of the other franchises that I have enjoyed. I invested seven years of my life in the X-Men franchise, movies that only got worse until I started to regret seeing them. The most recent seasons of “Stranger Things” and “The End of the F * cking World” were fun, but I wish they hadn’t happened, as their very existence undermines the power of the original series concept. limited. (Chase after me, I liked it better when I thought James was dead in the end.)

I’ve spent a lot of time in my episodic TV class this semester being told that the ultimate goal of a TV series is survival. The gain of more and more seasons, the loyalty of viewers. I wish that was not the point. Shows must end. Film franchises must end. We must not fear the concept of the limited series, we must adopt it; the limited series, whether limited to one or three seasons, has a clear end point. Keeping the show on, continuing to release movies that only exist to make money and not to explore a new aspect of the franchise, only weakens the franchise as a whole. Of course, it makes more money in the short run. But in the long term? Before January 2017, I often watched the episodes of “Sherlock”. Haven’t seen one since, because what’s the point when I know the show ends in a confusing, convoluted mess? I even refuse to start “Game of Thrones” because of its ending.

Currently, I am in a similar situation with “Supernatural”. I would never claim that “Supernatural” has, at any time in its 15 year history, been the pinnacle of television. It was, however, something that I got deeply invested in and watched 12 seasons ago a few years ago, so I wanted to see it end, which he did last Thursday night. (If you were on Twitter the night of November 5, you probably know of another reason I wanted to watch the finale.) No part of the finale did what “The Good Place” did. He ignored character arcs, and even entire characters. I could see the main theme of the show if I squinted really hard. I’m much less excited to catch up on the show, which I had planned to do during the winter break, than before the finale aired. Sure, the finale got more viewers than the show had over the past year and a half, but that wasn’t because of the quality of the episode.

These failures are symptomatic of a larger problem in the entertainment industry. It’s not really there to entertain; he exists to make money from a concept he knows will intrigue us. A movie doesn’t have to be good to make money, only its trailer has to. A TV series doesn’t have to be good, it just needs to be trending on Twitter. “The Good Place” told a story, and it stopped when it was over. I would love to see more shows and movie franchises like this.


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