The thing I love about the internet: Anyone can say anything. Millions of voices, all having the potential to reach worldwide. My tiny stupid little blog has had readers from literally every continent. Including Antarctica. I can rant about comic books or movies or politics and rather than just talking to a bunch of people I know in Pittsburgh, I can talk to… well, a bunch of people I know in Pittsburgh and some guy in Nigeria. And that’s awesome. And what’s even better is that I’m not special in this respect. Everyone in the world now has international publishing access, from a tiny computer in their pocket… twenty four hours a day.
The thing I hate about the internet: Anyone can say anything. Millions of voices, all having the potential to reach worldwide. And often these millions of voices don’t really think things through. I have no delusions that i am the ultimate purveyor of truth in anything… even the stuff that I’m theoretically an expert in. I know I act like it. But that’s mostly just because I’m an asshole. But what does make my tiny stupid little blog better than everything else is that believe it or not I actually do research for the things I say. I’ve spent a lot of time and money on going to grad school and trying to be a “culture expert” and I try to put that to use here. I don’t expect everyone to do the same. In fact, I don’t want everyone to do the same. If they did then I wouldn’t be special! But for HOVA’s sake, at the very least put a little bit of thought into the articles you write. We’ll all be better off for it.
Case in point, yesterday my friend Jason shared a ranker.com article with a tag headline that said “Dexter had the most disappointing season finale in TV history. Agree or Disagree?” Yeah…. I disagree. The history of TV is a LONG time. NBC and CBS went on the air in the United States in 1941. There have been a fuck ton of television shows in TV history. And going to the actual article, which is actually titled “16 Beloved TV Shows With Terrible Final Seasons“, one finds that the OLDEST show on the list is Roseanne which premiered “all the way back” in 1988 and was cancelled in 1997. Twenty whole years ago!!! The only other two shows that are even from the 90s on their list are The X-Files,and That ’70s Show. Every other show on the list premiered in the 21st century and ALL of them (except Roseanne) were cancelled after the year 2000.
Ok, fine… Dexter‘s ending was kind of controversial. I didn’t hate it; in fact, I thought it was an interesting choice. It was certainly loads better than what Roseanne did (which is so awful that they’re apparently just ignoring it for the show’s revival). But really, can’t you just dig a little deeper than Lost and The Vampire Diaries? Nearly 80 years of TV series finales and the examples all come from the last 20 (really 15, not including the outlier)? And the writer of the article knows what she is doing. Because the first line of it is “vote up the final TV seasons so bad it would’ve been better if they ended in a snow globe.” This is a reference to the controversial series finale of St. Elsewhere from 1988, wherein we learned that past 6 seasons of quirky and convoluted medical dramedy had all occurred in a single day in the daydream imagination of a 14-year-old boy with autism who had spent the day staring at a building in a snow globe. I personally thought it was brilliant. A lot of people hate it. But it’s worth knowing about. It is a cultural touchstone that still affects the way television (especially finales) is produced today. And if nothing else, it gave birth to the Tommy Westphall Universe Hypothesis, which is one of the most fascinating things to debate in the history of television… even to the point that it means we have to doubt our own worlds and contemplate the nature of existentialism. But instead, she just references a snow globe in the first line, never explains it and lets everyone go on to debate Lost vs. The Vampire Diaries.
And looking around with a quick google search for “worst TV show finales of all time” I get the same basic list from so many sources: Lost, How I Met Your Mother, Roseanne, Dexter, Sopranos, Seinfeld, Friends. Basically, the most critically acclaimed and popular shows from the 2000s, and maybe throw in a couple of high profile geek shows.There was a world before the millennials… and it had a lot of bad TV in it!
There’s SO many more options here… Soap, Dinosaurs, Enterprise, the original Battlestar Galactica, Married With Children, Quantum Leap, Mork & Mindy, Charlie’s Angels, Sledge Hammer, Dallas, ALF, Little House on the Prairie. And that’s not even going to the black and white days. All of those shows were in color. Do you know how ALF ended? They sent him off to be dissected by the government. Do you know how Little House on the Prairie ends? They blow up the fucking town! Seriously! Even if you want to stick to just 21st century shows, does the list have to be the obvious choices that you know were watched by the stereotypical geek faithful that you’re trying to clickbait into reading your site? Having some of those is great. But why not mix in some new information that might inspire people to learn about something different. Do you know how Felicity ended? For 79 episodes it was the charming soap-opera or a college co-ed with cute hair trapped in a love triangle between two boys… and then for the last 5… time travel epic with witchcraft. Seriously… that’s what happens… she uses witchcraft to travel through time. And if you’re going into the black and white world? Try watching the final episode of The Andy Griffith Show and try to explain how it serves as a way to wrap up that series OR even to really to prepare the viewer for Mayberry R.F.D. which it is supposed to be a backdoor pilot for.
This is not me railing against new television. It’s not me railing against millennials. What I don’t like is the way the internet tends to assume that there is no cultural memory whatsoever. Like what you like. Hate what you hate, but don’t do it in a vacuum. Think things through. Not everything has to be the best show or the worst show ever. For instance, I hear a lot of people complain that Iron Fist is the worst superhero show ever. It’s not. It’s arguably the worst on Netflix. People say the same about Inhumans, which again… certainly was not in any way shape or form “good.” But the worst ever? I mean, it’s only been two and a half years since people were trying to “save Constantine.” And yeah, I have a personal beef against Constantine… but say you like it… fine. You do realize that Powerless was only cancelled in April, right? So Iron Fist and Inhumans by definition can’t even be the worst superhero shows of the year 2017. And ever? You know what I was watching when I was a kid? Manimal! Fucking Manimal. And Streethawk. And Automan. None of these were “good” but they were what we had. And we liked it! We liked it fine! We loved it! We also watched The Greatest American Hero which ALSO had a horrible series finale!
So what I’m saying is, I love that everyone has opinions to share. I love that everyone has a forum to do it in. But wouldn’t it be great if people used that forum to share opinions that weren’t just the same thing that they knew their audience was already thinking? Wouldn’t it be great if the audience sought out opinions that weren’t just the ones they already had? These articles are all just think pieces. They’re conversation starters. But why not actually THINK and start a conversation that hasn’t been had over and over again… advance the discourse. Learn. And then apply those lessons to the rest of our interactions with the world.
PS: Don’t diss Manimal! I’m allowed to diss Manimal. You are not!