You know when you’re writing a paper and you’ve said all you can think to say, but you haven’t reached the length requirement so you just start spitting out a bunch of nonsense that’s barely related to what you were initially writing about?
That’s what has happened in every television show I’ve ever loved, excluding sitcoms.
I’m referring, of course, to shows that have rapidly declined in quality at some point, otherwise known as “jumping the shark.”
(In case you’re wondering, the idiom got its name from a scene in “Happy Days” where Fonzie leaps over a shark while on water skis. This was allegedly the beginning of the end for “Happy Days,” and unfortunately not the beginning of Olympic shark-hopping.)
Take “House,” for instance. The first two seasons were the show’s glory days. Drs. Cameron, Chase and Foreman – unlikable when separated yet oddly tolerable as a group – acted as House’s original “ducklings,” following him around and carrying out his outrageous practices.
Things got weird around season five, when House suddenly developed vivid hallucinations and checked into a treatment facility. Just as suddenly, Cameron divorced Chase – a blow for those of us who actually enjoyed them as a couple – and disappeared from the show. Like a drunken, half-asleep student, the writers seemed to have forgotten what they were writing about.
A year later, actress Lisa Edelstein left, and once she was gone, so was I.
“Law & Order: SVU” went south somewhere around Chris Meloni’s departure. By then, the storylines had become repetitive, which is to be expected in a show’s 12th season. However, when Meloni left, he took the “SVU’”s subtlety – and eye candy – with him.
Following season 12, every episode felt like a sloppy, preachy public service announcement. Maybe all the seasons had that problem and I was too blinded by Stabler’s jawline to notice. Regardless, the best shows quit while they’re ahead and “SVU” was ahead, like, five years ago.
And then there’s “Gilmore Girls,” an obsession that preceded – and superseded – all others.
I remember staring at the clock in middle school, counting the hours till a new episode. I was so engrossed in the happenings of Stars Hollow that I couldn’t pay attention in lectures, which partly explains my complete inability to understand algebra.
In its sixth season, though, “Gilmore Girls” went off the rails. Its main characters began acting so erratically the only logical explanation, outside of bored writers, would’ve been crystal meth. Then they dropped a huge, horrible, clichéd bombshell: a long-lost lovechild. Nothing adds unnecessary drama like a teenage daughter no one knew about. After that, I gave up on my beloved GG.
I’m glad I never gave in to the hype of “Desperate Housewives,” “Grey’s Anatomy” or any show whose Wikipedia description includes the word “drama.” If there’s one thing I’ve learned from television, it’s that I’m better off with sitcoms in all their goofy, formulaic wonder.