I’ll try to keep this post as spoiler free as possible, but it’s going to be tricky because that’s pretty much all I want to talk about. What exactly? TV show finales (and t.v. shows in general).
(If you don’t want the endings to How I Met Your Mother and Dexter ruined you should stop reading the post now. Fair warning.)
Is it just me or do the finales of some of the best shows, shows with nice, solid track records of quality writing tend to be duds? It sure seems that way to me. One could easily reply that perhaps my standards are too high and no ending these producers come up with could ever somehow make up for the terrible knowledge that I will no longer be whisked away to the fictional world to visit for a brief time with my fictional friends.
Well, I think that’s bullshit. They’ve just been sucking, plain and simple.
Take How I Met Your Mother as a prime example of one way not to do it. Terrible, terrible, terrible ending. Did I mention it was terrible? Oh, and I wasn’t the only one booing the screen when the credits rolled. Apparently a lot of devout viewers were less than thrilled, especially over the divorce of Barney and Robin. The fact that Barney had spent an entire season learning he could love another person apparently meant nothing. After the backlash, the writers shrugged their shoulders and said hey, sometimes in real life people break up, there aren’t always happy endings in “real life.” Maybe the womanizer Barney wasn’t able to commit because deep down, that’s just who he was …a womanizer. Blah blah blah.
Well, no duh, Einstein. We’re all well aware that couples break up all the freakin’ time. We know there aren’t always happy endings in “real life” because we live it. I think I speak for us all when I say, we’re hit in the face every day with the realization that sometimes life sucks. It’s an inescapable truth. I mean, hell we can open up our respective windows and watch it all day long all around us, if not have it going on in our own homes.
Do you really think we want the suckiness of life to play out on our favorite shows!? The very shows we watch to escape said suckiness of life? No. We want the happy endings damn it! At least I do. I want to temporarily forget the unsavory parts of life and get away from the suckiness for just a little while. That’s the whole point of escaping to a fictional world. From the outpouring of HIMYM fans, obviously I’m not the only one. And these producers seemed shocked that people were disappointed in the writing of their finale. Hmmm.
And what about Dexter? Yeah, sure he was a serial killer, but come on…he performed a civic duty that should’ve won awards. His fans loved him. Underneath it all, he was a good guy. I know that’s twisted, but it was true. He was never caught doing any of his serial killer-y things and we all breathed a collective sigh of relief each time. He spent 8 seasons evolving from a person who could not feel emotions into a man who wanted a family (and indeed had one within his grasp). The writers led Dexter’s followers on a roller coaster ride of thrills and through it all, Dexter remained true to his “code,” until finally it seemed as though Dexter would finally have everything he had ever dreamed of – life as a lumberjack. Yep. According to Dexter writers, that’s apparently what passes as an acceptable ending for a historically top-notch show. Shhhh. Don’t even get me started. Okay…breathe…
Entertainment is supposed to allow us to step into a fantasy world where, depending on what you watch, things can be better than in real life. The womanizer can be reformed. The marriage can last. The killer will be caught (or not, as in the case with Dexter). The child will be rescued. The mother doesn’t die. The earth won’t blow up (although I still feel sorry for Marvin the Martian’s lack of an Earth-shattering kaboom).
TV is like a multi-purpose drug. We figure out what kind of high (or low) we want and adjust our dosage accordingly. If we want to be excited there are crime dramas and political espionage series. If we want to swoon a little, love stories are sure to be found. If we want to be goofy, comedy cures. It’s a sliding scale. I don’t want to speak for you, but I personally know that I am not interested in watching a version of my life on the small screen that simply mirrors the crappiness I just ran indoors to get away from.
When are writers going to get this? I should make my own series to show them how it’s done. In mine, the couple we’re all rooting for stays together. The “good guy” serial killer gets his family. Everyone lives happily ever after. Thank you for at least making sure Ross and Rachel happened. If that didn’t work out I would’ve been pissed.