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|Written by Emily Goodacre|
|Thursday, 29 July 2010 00:00|
Though I am an avid TV watcher, I only have so much time in a week. As a result, I often have to make decisions about which shows will make the cut. Some shows I watch religiously through their entire runs (Lost), some shows I stick with even though I know they are terrible (flashforward), and some shows I simply grow tired of and decide to stop watching during the hiatus (24). But occasionally a show that I had previously enjoyed pulls a move that is so offensive that I have a "that is it, show; we are through!" moment. You could say I fire these shows for egregious job performance. Read on for some examples of this, and feel free to share your own examples of show firings in the comments.
You're fired! Moment: Chief commits suicide (Season 4, Episode 3)
In retrospect, I really should have stopped watching this show when Tommy's son died. It wasn't enough that his best friend/cousin died in 9/11, that his wife left him and started dating his police officer brother, that that brother was then shot to death on duty, nope. Tommy's eight year-old son Connor had to be killed in a hit-and-run by a drunk driver, who then gets off due to political connections, and is subsequently killed by Connor's relatives, sending Tommy into a guilt spiral. Because God hates everyone on this show but especially Tommy Gavin. When the Chief commits suicide rather than take a desk job, and Tommy tries to hold on to his perilous sobriety by conversing with his hallucination of Jesus and reading AA literature in real time (the camera focusing on text so that the audience can read along) the show wasn't just a massive downer, it was boring as hell, and I was done.
You're fired! Moment: Nancy seduces a Mexican drug lord (Season 4, Episode 7)
The show had a great premise: suburban mom becomes pot dealer to support her family after her husband suddenly dies. Nancy managed to straddle the line between being too cool and edgy for her fellow yuppie moms and way too square for her inner-city suppliers to hilarious results. She often accidentally stumbled into trouble (unknowingly dating a DEA agent), and just as often stumbled her way into success (an endorsement of her strain by Snoop Dogg). But at some point her escalation of risk and subjection of her family to greater danger pointed to mental illness rather than an average woman getting in over her head. By the time Nancy pursued a Mexican kingpin for no reason other than dangerlust, she'd lost me. The show should have ended after season 3 with Nancy setting her McMansion on fire and segwaying off into the sunset - the perfect final image.
You're fired! Moment: Sylar kills Elle (Season 3, Episode 11)
OK, obviously this show sucked for many reasons, such as the quasi-racist infantilization of Hiro, and the rambling plotlines that went nowhere and made season 3 of Lost look positively coherent by comparison. But the show ruined its few compelling characters by neutering Sylar (Oh, I've got a secret family I never knew about? Evil cured!) and then having him quickly revert to form by killing his kickass girlfriend Elle. Big mistake, show! They could have been a super-powered Bonnie and Clyde, on the lam and making sexy sexy trouble (I would have watched that show)! But no, because then we might have missed out on, say, Matt talking to a damn tortoise for several hours. Ugh, epic fail, Heroes.
You're fired! Moment: Kutner abruptly commits suicide off-screen (Season 5, Episode 20)
I know that this happened because Kal Penn went to work for Obama and that suicide often catches loved ones without warning. But not only was it a lazy way to write out a character with forced dramatic impact and absolutely no buildup, it got rid of the most likeable character on the show. The new diagnostic team was a disaster on the whole, and House went from 'hilariously sarcastic' to 'sad old man with Tourettes' somewhere in season 3. Not to mention that it was an insult to Kutner's character for his suicide to be examined mainly by how it affected Foreman and 13's relationship (real sensitive, show). I hear it's gotten better since then, but I just can't let this one slide, House.
You're fired! Moment: Meredith's father slaps her in the face (Season 3, Episode 23)
Grey's has a serious problem with unlikeable characters: Izzie, Christina and Dr. Burke were all pretty bad people. Meredith, the ostensible protagonist, was just sort of boring and grating, so the writers decided to give up on likeability and just play the sympathy card. Over and over and over again. We learned that her mother was not only a terrible parent but was also in a pretty severe stage of dementia. After an accident/possible suicide attempt that nearly froze her to death, her boyfriend left her. After her mother died, Meredith finally opened up and stopped being such an unnecessary bitch to her step-mother and started having a positive maternal figure in her life for the first time. So of course she dies (because you can't have too many dead moms on this show). But here's the kicker: even though her death was sudden and medically unavoidable, Meredith's absentee but otherwise decent-guy father slaps her in the face and accuses her of killing his wife. Grief-stricken, you say? Not an excuse unless there's a worldwide doctor-slapping trend I don't know about. Since the show had devolved into a suicide encouraging sad-sack fest (and that's without even mentioning all the dramatic patient deaths), it was time to let it go.
So You Think You Can Dance
Written Warning moment: The judges travel to contestants' houses to announce they didn't make the show in front of their families (Season 7, Episode 4)
This is another show with myriad crimes: Mary's incessant screeching, Nigel's blatant leering at young girls, an embarrassing and pointless series of audition episodes, the hetero-normative attitude, and the extremely irritating overuse of the term "buck." The debut of season 6 immediately after season 5 nearly pushed me away (due to dance fatigue I still can't remember who won Season 6, though it was the most recent season and I can name all the other winners), but I held on through all this because the talent on display on SYTYCD results in one of the most joyful offerings on TV. I've defended it against haters who compare it to American Idol because it has always had a professionalism that Idol doesn't: these people can and do succeed as professional dancers. So the judging functions as any professional audition, giving occasionally harsh but serious criticism. But all that was abandoned in Season 7 when the judges left the audition stage and went to contestants' homes to tell them personally whether they made the top 11. This was a cheap ploy to create dramatic tension. Dancers who told themselves that no one would travel across the country to destroy their dreams in front of Grandma were all too wrong, and we the audience were nauseated. I'm sticking it out for now, mainly for the return of old favourites as the new "all stars" (hi Twitch!), but consider yourself on notice, SYTYCD!