There is a reason people invest so much time and effort into a television set. It holds the precious world of entertainment inside it. It’s a portal to fictional worlds that help us to escape the monotony of our every day lives. We can bask in the glow of an employee sticking it to his boss and walking out of his dead end job to go discover himself; rebellious characters do things we can only fantasize about. They can break the law and defy physics while we sit on our couches eating popcorn.
Then there are the shows that we are so over. You know, the ones that we have been watching for years and invested so much our emotions into only to feel let down season after season. We’ve seen new characters get unwarranted attention while our favorites take a back seat; writers squash any sort of good development for the characters; and see story arcs come into the picture only to realize halfway through the season that they will lead nowhere and there only to take up time. It’s devastating. After all you’re supposed to become attached to these fictional people and the world around them. Some shows degrade over time simply because they’re too popular to end and instead decide to be hollow shells of what could have been an epic series if only the show had ended on top. What started out as a passionate addiction slowly deteriorates and soon you see the newest episode has already aired but you completely forgot about it.
These four shows were once incredibly popular only to see the quality shift to the point where you actually hate the characters and revel in seeing them suffer. Poor things. They just didn’t know where to find good writers.
By time The Office’s final season rolled around, people had long given up on being entertained by it. The show’s decline is often attributed to Steve Carell’s departure (rightly so) but it had become rather stagnant before then. However, Michael Scott proved to be the glue that held the series’ charm and wit together and once he was gone, so was the unique humor viewers had come to love.
Once Carell decided to leave, the writers had an opportunity to reinvent the show. But they failed. So, so hard. By time the show ended, there were hardly any likable characters and the character developments had either become stumped and/or regressed back into early seasons of irritation. It became the Pam and Jim show with the other characters just happening to be around them; Andy’s hard earned character development fell back into his season 3 level of annoying; and you can actually see Kevin getting borderline retarded as the seasons went on. Sure there were some good moments but the addition of annoying new characters (Nellie, Gabe, Robert California) getting screen time while the others suffered just made the last two season almost painful to watch.
Has there ever been a show with such potential as LOST? Probably, but for the sake of argument, let’s say no. LOST was everyone’s go-to show on Wednesdays and the first season is by far one of the most interesting seasons of any show ever. Though the show went on for six seasons, fans were aggravated at the lack of answers the show provided. The entire series felt as though it were made up on the spot and the addition of new characters, time travel and alternate worlds did nothing to help ease the irritation. Sure it was unique, but in the end, fans were left feeling empty and scratching their heads. In a way, this show serves as an example of what happens when you don’t expect your product to become a sensation and having to scramble to make sense of what is essentially an acid trip into something clever.
Believe it or not, this show was really popular in its heyday and for good reason. The lead actors, David James Elliot and Catherine Bell, were smoking hot, could actually act – such a rarity! - and their chemistry was insane. Everyone knew Harm and Mac would be together. We saw their relationship go from tense acquaintances to best friends and finally soul mates. But season 9’s relationship between Mac and Webb, the mysterious CIA agent that had been around for forever, was awkward and an obvious ploy to keep Harm and Mac apart. Here was the problem with that: it got old. Quickly. In addition, the lovable Admiral Chedwiggen retired at the end of that season, which meant a replacement. Season 10 was off to a rocky start and never got back on straight. The humor and quirkiness of the JAG office and its relationships was gone. Friendships were destroyed; the drama became more of a focus, and Mac’s character development slid back until she resembled a teenage girl than a woman in her 30’s. In the finale, Mac and Harm are forced to admit each other’s feelings but after 9 seasons, fans only got to relish in the long awaited moment for about…3 minutes. The coin toss at the end felt cheap and fans felt cheated that the show they had come to love and then hate had left them with a pathetic ploy that was designed to be a cliffhanger.
But 10 seasons was too long. The actors themselves looked tired of their roles and it was as though no one, including the writers, cared anymore. Bringing in new blood such as Vukovic was a massive mistake as it clearly designed to appease fans into thinking he was Harm 2.0; the actor and the character lacked the appeal DJE brought to the show though so all Vukovic managed to do was annoy viewers. That and all he did was talk about how attractive Mac was – like we hadn’t seen or heard that before from literally every single male character that the show brought in.
Speaking of tired characters…
In recent memory, no show has had such a sharp downturn from “OMG. I love this show!” to “Oh, it’s still on? But HOW???” as True Blood. Sookie is the prime example of a show’s lead character gone horribly, horribly awry. But it can’t all come down to Sookie’s selfish behavior. The writers have took viewers on a journey that not even Willy Wonka would like as they brought in werewolves and promptly made them a side plot that literally had no redeeming qualities; the fairies were interesting but since they were more powerful than Sookie, they had to go. Continuity is a word that the writers have never heard of before and it is never more apparent than in the show’s last season.
It’s rather appropriate considering the author of the books kind of gave up too that the series writers would do the same. It’s hard to pin down just a few examples of how screwed up this show has become but I’ll give one that I think sums up everything about the characters and the writers approach to the series:
Season 6. One of the most underrated seasons but filled with moments that knock Sookie down from her self made pedestal. By this season, Tara, Sookie’s childhood friend and the one who took bullet to the brain for her, is a vampire that Bill sees meeting the true death along with Eric, Jessica, Pam and Willa. Sookie’s fairy/vampire lover, Warlow (who killed her parents), can save them as his fairy blood allows vampires to walk in the sun. Sookie selfishly tells Bill that she won’t hand her new lover over to help save her friends by saying, “Tara’s my friend?”
Keep in mind that in the show’s timeline, Warlow has only officially met Sookie about two days before and already slept with her; Tara is Sookie’s best friend and has been all her life. Essentially, Sookie is saying that she is choosing a man she has known for two days over her life-long friend that she was so desperate to save that had Pam turn Tara into a vampire.
With that mindset, it’s no wonder fans don’t really care about what happens to any of the characters. There’s just so much wrong with what the writers did that it’s hopeless to redeem any of these characters. This isn’t like Game of Thrones, where characters are supposed to be shades of evil and good – True Blood screwed their characters up on accident. Actually, that sums up this series: an accident that you watch because you’re compelled to. You’ve stuck with it so you might as well see it to the end.