Let's Discuss: The Fiery TV Finale Debate

For two Sundays in a row, viewers have had to say goodbye to two of cable’s most talked-about shows. “Breaking Bad” and “Dexter” both ended their respective runs with fanfare galore. In the case of “Breaking Bad,” they had to follow-up the panned “Dexter” finale, and expectations were high.

During the finale, there was a firestorm of activity on Twitter, chatter eventually turned towards the infamous end of “Lost”. The frustration still palpable, angry fans vented their exasperation to Damon Lindelof, the co-showrunner of the series via Twitter. The perceived greatness of the “Breaking Bad” finale would be praised, among fans, as the paradigm of what they have wanted from TV finale’s past and present.

Three and half years ago, the “Lost” helmers, faced the brutal disappointment of fans. Season after season, the dense mythology would beg more and more questions without much in the way of a payoff in between. There was a catch, though. ABC had vowed to deliver six seasons, and the creators claimed there was a planned endgame. Consequently meaning there would be a reason behind the maddening tide of plotting.

Fans would eventually question the validity of the so-called “endgame” as word began to surface that the writers had not laid a long-term framework for the show. They were writing as they went. This would be confirmed in a Vulture report that was recently published. Fans had been lied to all along. By Sunday, frustration from hardcore fans was hitting a fever pitch, and the finale of “Breaking Bad” would strike a match that proved combustible.

As “Breaking Bad” fans celebrated a series finale that they felt rewarded their viewership, a question rose from the ashes. What should fans expect from an ending? Some suggested that they deserve nothing. That viewers should just enjoy the ride and not comment negatively.

They have turned on the TV and spent time on their lives on art. Art is subjective, and totally within the control of its creator, they argued. Whatever the said creator decides is the will of this god-like individual, and viewers are at their mercy.

There is a hitch to this theorem, especially when it comes to Hollywood writers. For artists to create art, they must have talent. To make a living from said art, they must have patrons. For TV writers to have a show, they must have viewers. Viewers have a say. They are investors in the project.

If a writer creates something strictly for their own consumption, certainly no one else can interfere with their creation. That isn’t how TV works, though. It is played out on a stage through an extended period. A time where the ebb and flow of viewers composes the ability for their stories to continue.

For those who cried foul. The message was mixed in terms of what flag they were accurately throwing on the play. On one side, they argued it is an art which, by definition, cannot have a “right” point of view. 

On the other side, they said it was just a TV show. Just a TV show? Really? People spent years thinking about these characters and what was coming around the bend. The point of TV is to absorb people in a long-term arc with core characters.

If you are not an emotional brick, the emotional experience of that will seep in on you. It is a compliment to TV writers or writers of any sort if someone has become invested in what they’ve written. Fan passion is the highest praise of all. It’s lovely to bask in it and enjoy the success, years were spent creating. 

It’s also true you have to take the good with the bad. The anger that the “Lost” and “Dexter” writers faced was a side effect of a vested zeal they earned. A passion they needed to begin the journey and the fuel by which they needed to sustain it.

Perhaps the quote by Elie Wiesel sums it up best, “The opposite of love isn’t hate, it’s indifference.” The reaction of TV fans this past week definitely proves that whether they loved it or hated it, they cared, and that is a success.

[Image by ABC]

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