When it comes to TV shows, I mate for life. No matter how much the writing declines, or what other shows may come onto the air, I will continue to watch a show until its slow, sometimes painful, death. In fact, in my whole history of television watching, there are very few instances when I gave up on a show before its series finale, and for each of those occasions, I can pinpoint an exact reason why I gave up.
The OC was a great show. In fact, I’d go so far as to say it was the first show that I really obsessed over. It had quick, witty dialogue, super soapy storylines, and a character for everyone. There was Ryan, the hot, broody poor kid; Seth, a geeky hipster before hipsters were cool; Marissa, the rich girl with issues; and Summer, whose name could not have been a better description of who she was: just a bubble of sunny energy. However, the greatness of these 4 core characters is ultimately what led me to quit this show.
I understand why characters are killed off. Chemistry disappears, actors become stars, and contracts run out. Really, I get it. But if there is such a small core set of main characters, when one of them leaves it kind of ruins the show. Marissa wasn’t my favorite character. In fact, of the core 4, I would say she was the one I liked the least, but she was still a part of the main group. Killing her off was like if producers decided to kill off Joey on Dawson’s Creek, or Serena on Gossip Girl. They might not be the character you love the most, but they are still an essential, main character. Once Marissa was gone, it threw off the whole balance of the show for me, and I stopped watching until the very last episode. Then I tuned in just for old time’s sake.
One Tree Hill was probably the most obviously easy show to quit. Unlike The OC, OTH always had a larger ensemble cast. There was Lucas, Peyton, Nathan, Hayley, Brooke, Mouth, Skills, and Rachel. But after season 6, basically everyone left except for Nathan, Haley, and Brooke and they introduced a whole slew of new people who we hadn’t had any interaction with in earlier seasons. It was basically like a brand new show. It was a new show that I didn’t want to take the time to follow. Why try to get to know a whole new set of characters if the show might not even last a whole season? (I know the show is still on, but it has been on its last legs for a while and every renewal comes as a shock to everyone.) Sometimes it doesn’t even feel like I did quit One Tree Hill. In some sense, I feel like I DID watch it until the end and this new version, with all its new characters, is just like a spinoff. It is a spinoff that I feel no obligation to watch.
Oh Glee, I hardly knew ye.
But seriously, I almost feel like I didn’t give Glee enough of a chance. Like most of the television world, I thought season 1 was great. It was funny, different, and just campy enough to work. There were many, diverse characters with different, interesting storylines. And then somewhere in season 2, Ryan Murphy just sort of lost his way. The storylines became choppy at best and there was absolutely no character development.
For example: My biggest annoyance with season 2 was Puck and Quinn. Sure, I wanted them to be together and suddenly they had absolutely zero interaction, but that wasn’t my main issue. What bothered me the most was the fact that those two had a BABY together only a few months prior and they never even mentioned it. To anyone. Ever. It was simply swept under the rug like nothing had ever happened. Now, I know Puck/Quinn have been interacting again recently and they may or may not be addressing this issue now on the show, but the fact that they ignored it for a whole season still annoys me. And that is one of the reasons I stopped watching. It also had to do with the fact that I took a night class on Tuesday nights and Fox decided to make you wait 5 days to watch their shows, but because of this lack of story/character development I didn’t make the effort. I didn’t care if I missed the show because it had lost the interesting storylines and complex characters that had drawn me in to begin with. It seems like the show has returned closer to its original greatness, but I don’t know if I can get back into it. I’ll always have that looming fear that suddenly the characters will drop back into their caricature selves and the show will be unwatchable again. My TV heart can handle those sorts of back-and-forth games. It is too much.
For me, quitting a show is like starting a book and never finishing it. I want to see how the story plays out and where the characters end up. When you invest multiple years watching a character grow, you want to see what they become. Maybe I’m just too committed. Maybe the problem is me, not them.
Sometimes I still think about retuning in to One Tree Hill or Glee. I do. But then I remember what happened the last time they disappointed me, and I decide to watch from afar; still keeping tabs on my favorite characters, but not investing enough to get overly involved — like I am some sort of creeper ex-girlfriend of Brooke Davis or Noah Puckerman, just stalking out their life without fully being a part of it. That is what I must regulate myself to.