I’m not a big TV watcher. I tend to pick shows carefully (usually at the recommendation of friends) and watch them on DVD (or streaming) at least a few season after the fact. Part of this is because I’ve much preferred watching movies. But the main reason is that watching a TV show is a major time commitment that I’m really hesitant to embrace. So I usually have very high bars for what I choose to watch. And I’m extremely fast on pulling the trigger when it comes to bailing from a show.
This is something that’s come up a lot on twitter when discussing TV shows. Compared to a lot of my contacts, I appear to give up on things much more quickly than a lot of people. Even when bingewatching. Just because I have access to the DVDs doesn’t mean I finish the show. Heck, sometimes I don’t even finish the season.
So at the request of a number of my twitter contacts, here’s a quick rundown of when, and why, I gave up on some shows. It’s not a complete list of everything I’ve watched, these are just the ones I’ve ended up in discussions about and had to explain why I bailed. This isn’t a critique of these shows either as I’m inherently unqualified to critique these due to bailing early.
I’m one of those viewers who found the Meadow’s college trip to be the high point of the series. This episode is what got me to watch season 2 but as the show became more and more about the mob stuff and the banality of it all I started to drift away. I’m not sure I made it through season 3 actually. I can watch people do their jobs. But have a hard time with stupidity and a lot of the mob stuff started to get increasingly stupid to me.
I stuck with CSI (only the Las Vegas edition) a lot longer than I expected. This was brain candy which I enjoyed watching for a few years. I eventually got tired of the fact that it was only ever about murders. And after watching The Wire season 1, CSI just seemed like a joke.
Lost is a show that I made a conscious decision to drop because I didn’t trust the network format to treat it correctly. Season 1 felt like a full-season Monsters are Coming to Maple Street. I loved the mystery and open endedness of it all; I just didn’t expect or trust the show to be able to hold on to that. Either the mystery would get pushed out past the point of credibility. Or the answers would suck. Or the show would get cancelled at a lousy point. So I picked my exit point.
Holy crap. I should have bailed sooner. I like origin stories—even with the current rebootitis trend going around*—but I hate stupidity. Hate it. And this show got intolerably stupid in the second half. The only reason I finished the season was because I was watching this with friends and we ended up hatewatching it together instead.
*I will always find something enjoyable in watching someone discover what they are good at. I also tire at the way that no one—well, besides Brad Bird—seems to be able to write superhero movies or shows which deal with aging or growing out of the superhero thing.
Veronica Mars—Season 1
Another show like Lost which I stopped watching because I didn’t trust the way the network would handle it and found the existing ending to be just fine. In this case, the season one story arc was just too good. Even if season 2 was good, I didn’t think it was needed and instead risked straining the credibility of the world they’d created. How fucked up could that high school be?
I got tired mid-season but wanted to see the conclusion. The show gimmick had potential but never measured up to it. In hindsight, it’s hard to make a show about characters who are so emotionally damaged they don’t seem capable of growth. Also, I had problems with the idea of so many competing serial killers being active in the same location.
Mad Men—Mid-Season 1
I couldn’t figure out what this show wanted to be. It appeared to glorify a time period without addressing the underlying race issues. It also has similar character issues as Dexter. And it tapdanced around critiquing mass culture plus its smart moments felt more like accidents. There were also too many moments which reminded me that the show wasn’t on HBO and, quite frankly, it could have used some of that edge.
I may come back to Mad Men though. I’m still skeptical but if it really does manage to make something of a central character’s lack of growth I might be interested to see if they really pull it off.
How I Met Your Mother—Mid-season 3
I bailed when Ted became a certifiable asshole. Any show whose main character becomes that awful isn’t worth sticking with.
True Blood—Season 2
This show is technically on probation. I was fully prepared to bail mid-season with Godric’s death. Only the Sam storyline is keeping any interest right now. Still, I haven’t watched any of this for a few years now. Nor do I really feel like watching again. Unlike the better HBO shows, there’s a bit of “fuck yeah we’re on HBO” in this show. When it’s good, the writing is crisp and smart. But it tends toward pulp and losing a handle on the writing a little too much for me.