Which Television Shows Are You Sad to See Come to an End?

Which Television Shows Are You Sad to See Come to an End?

Will you watch the final episodes of “The Big Bang Theory” or “Game of Thrones?”

Do you think they can live up to the expectations and hype? Or, do you think you will be disappointed?

In “‘The Big Bang Theory’ and the Long Goodbye: How Swan Songs Are Changing TV,” Margaret Lyons writes:

Two of the biggest shows on TV are ending this week: “The Big Bang Theory” finishes its 12th season on Thursday, and “Game of Thrones” ends its eighth season Sunday night. One’s a multicamera comedy that fits squarely within network traditions, the other’s a flashy fantasy epic chockablock with violent murder. One is symbolic — perhaps unfairly — of cultural uncoolness, while the other spawns viewing parties and obsessive podcasts from legacy media companies.

And yet both are getting the same kind of finale rollout, the kind a lot of shows get these days, like “Veep” just had: an announcement well in advance of the premiere that the coming season would be the show’s last, a full-court media press of oral histories and it’s-hard-but-it’s-time talk show appearances, well-placed tributes from high-profile fans. Clip shows and after-shows. Photos from the final table read on the cast’s Instagram accounts, and then maybe a photo essay of the final days in a magazine.

We’ve had months and months to gird ourselves. Which isn’t to say those finales will necessarily be good or beloved, just that fans of the shows have been well shepherded into the ideas that these shows are indeed ending.

Big shows have always gotten fanfare finale rollouts, but in recent years, and especially for the 2018-19 season, network, cable and streaming outlets have been big on farewell seasons for smaller shows too. Netflix gave viewers ample warning about the end of “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.” The final season of “Broad City” was one big goodbye, an almost therapeutic guide through the main characters’ maturation process and thus the end of the freewheeling-young-adult premise of the show.

“Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” walked its audience and its protagonist through all the show’s what-ifs. The series finale of “Catastrophe” achieved a kind of ecstatic perfection that gave me spiritual resolution in ways I cannot attain in regular life. I will be crushed when “Jane the Virgin” ends this summer, but I will be as prepared as possible. Every living person who watched FXX’s “You’re the Worst” wrote a loving eulogy to it on a website, or ranked its episodes, or praised its depictions of PTSD and depression one last time.

Transitions, man. Anyone who’s ever torn a toddler from a playground or nudged a crowd from cocktail hour to the reception hall knows people need warning. We need structure. We need guidance. We need a dang minute to collect ourselves. We need closure.

The article concludes:

Finales have taken on a strange significance of their own as “sticking the landing” has become a meme unto itself — but also as reboots and revivals have meant the end of endings. They are now a precious spectacle, an impossible beauty, a relic. So having time to prepare the shrine doesn’t feel like so much to ask.

Students, read the entire article, then tell us:

— Which television shows are you sad to see end this season? Why will you miss them? What do you like about them?

— Are you a big fan of “Big Bang Theory”? What about “Game of Thrones”? Are you watching either of the final episodes? If you’re answering this question before watching the finale, how do you think the show will end? If you’ve already watched the finale, what did you think? Did it “stick the landing”?

— How much television do you watch? Is it still a popular medium with you and your peers? What shows do you absolutely never miss? Which shows do you think “it’s time to go”?

— In “‘Game of Thrones’ and ‘Avengers’: 2 Times Critics on the Power and Pain of Endings,” A.O. Scott says:

Truthfully though, most endings are disappointing, at least in proportion to the complexity and interest of the story that came before. We feel let down partly because we’re just sorry something we’ve invested time and feeling in is over, but also because the force that held us in thrall is dissipating.

The classical genres sidestep this problem by spoiling everything in advance. A tragedy ends in death, a comedy in a wedding, with some suspense about who dies or who gets married. The release an audience experiences at the end is partly relief that the order of things, disrupted by the anarchic forces of violence or desire, has been restored.

Modern narrative is a different beast, of course, and what “Thrones,” which originated in a series of novels, shares with other canonical examples of the genre is a sense of multiple, branching possibilities, a thick and tangled middle full of intriguing loose ends. The tying up all that involves foreclosing some possibilities in favor of others. Solutions tend to be less exciting than mysteries.

— Do you agree that most endings are disappointing? Do you like an ending that ties up all loose ends or one that still leaves you wanting more? What do you think makes for a good finale episode?

— What is your favorite television finale of all time?

Further Resources:

I Ignored ‘Game of Thrones’ for 8 Years. Then Inhaled It in 5 Weeks.

I Love ‘The Big Bang Theory.’ And You Should, Too.

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