The agreement we make with a TV show is that we’ll spend time with it as long as its interesting, as long as we want to hang out with its characters. Beyond the one-shot that movies demand, TV shows require a thirty minute testing period or eleven hours if you like it. More if you get in deep. And who knows if your favorite show will last 10 seasons.
We get devoted. But even a favorite show has the potential to lose its luster (or jump right over the shark), and we know when it happens — when to give up. Or we end up straggling along anyway, because we get devoted.
So what would it take for you to give up on a favorite? What would a TV show have to do to get you to quit?
After seeing Veronica Mars (in movie form), it got me thinking about loving/sticking with the show through 3 seasons (2,880 minutes!) and a movie, particularly with the possibility of a TV revival. There’s also Game of Thrones, Breaking Bad, The West Wing and more that add up to about eleventy billion minutes of investment in different stories and characters. Not all of those minutes were amazing.
For Veronica Mars, the iffy stuff happened when it started recycling concepts (Eli arrested again! A side character is a red herring! Logan and Veronica break up and get back together again!). For West Wing, it was when they lost Sorkin and their momentum. Obviously, none of their sins were enough to shake my dedication. Had VM got sunken into the relationship wallowing in a big enough way to lose sight of the detective hook, had it gotten trapped by repetition, or if West Wing hadn’t recovered from losing its visionary, that would have been the end of my attention span.
For The Walking Dead, I gave up at the farm. The first season was thrilling and got its hooks in strong, but everything in the second season convinced me to waste my time somewhere else because the inertia was far too great. Nothing happening, nothing doing.
But I have to wonder about something like Breaking Bad. If Walt, Jr. would have become a major fixture, would I have groaned through it in order to learn what Heisenberg was up to, or would I have folded? Would it have taken the fedora’ed one being killed off Ned-style in an earlier season to get me to tune out? Probably. It probably would have taken something that severe.
Speaking of which, in less than a month, we’ll start the Game of Thrones journey into season 4 with all the promise of resolved cliffhangers, newly formed cliffhangers and moments that staple dumbbells to our jaws. After all we’ve been through (and, you know, I’ve read the books), I imagine the show would have to veer completely away from the book’s storyline, or crush the skulls of the best characters in order to lose my interest. Or if the focus was overcome by pointless sex and violence without the benefit of labyrinthine political plotting to buoy the soulless shock. Or if the dragons formed a barbershop quartet.
That last one might actually up the ante.
So what about you? Think of your favorite show and imagine what terrible story crime it would have to commit to put down the remote.