Guys, I have a serious problem. And before you ask, no, this isn't a joke. The headline wasn't a misdirect or clickbait. You're not going to read this entire article thinking it's serious just to get to the end and find out it's actually satire and you've been duped into believing my point of view. I hope to one day be able to write something that clever, but today is not that day. Today is about awareness. It's about making sure that you, my faithful readers, are informed of this terrible atrocity that is taking place in the television industry. It's about getting the word out to as many people as possible so that hopefully something can be done about this. Because something needs to be done.
My problem, as you can see from the title of this post, is that my favorite TV shows keep getting renewed for new seasons. And it's really starting to upset me.
You may be asking yourself, "Why would Devon be upset that his favorite TV series are living on for another year? Doesn't he want more of the shows that he loves?" Those are perfectly legitimate questions that I will do my best to answer throughout this post. But first, I want to be clear about one thing that is certainly not the reason I have a problem with my shows getting renewed.
I'm not complaining about having too much TV to watch. I love TV, there is a lot of good TV out there right now, and I fully support the creation of good TV. I look forward to the new TV season every year. I enjoy making my schedule and having new episodes of my shows to watch every week. I have at least one show that I watch every weekday, so I'm almost never out of new things to watch during the regular TV season. And I'm not complaining about that at all. I'm not saying that they should stop making new TV altogether.
What I am saying is that there are certain shows that I love to watch but I don't think should get renewed for a second season. In my opinion, there are some shows that are simply meant to exist as one-season series, almost like a miniseries. I'm not knocking them at all. Some of the best TV series of all time have been short-lived. And the truth is that some of those shows are considered good because they weren't left on the air long enough to get cancelled due to stale writing, departing stars, or an apathetic audience. And that's why I'm afraid that some of the shows I love are being picked up for second seasons.
I think the reason I have such a big problem with these shows being renewed is that it reflects a huge misunderstanding of the definition of success in the American TV industry. Creating a TV show is not about making a bunch of money from advertisers, building a gigantic audience, creating a ton of buzz on social media, or staying on the air for absolutely as long as possible until you've run your audience and creators dry. Some of those things are good, and they are often side-effects of putting out a great TV show. But none of them are the goal of producing television. Or at least, they shouldn't be.
The goal of a television series should be to tell a good story well. I know that sounds simplistic and subjective, but it's the truth. A TV show should exist to share a story with the audience that connects with them on a deep level, takes them on a journey, and leaves them with a conclusion that satisfies and challenges them at the same time. My favorite TV shows are the ones that can do that, and those are the shows that are getting the most attention right now.
But along with that attention comes complications. Studio executives hear that a show is doing well and decide that they want more. If a show works well for one season and brings in a lot of money, why can't it do the same for a second year? Unfortunately, not all shows are built like that. And the ones that I currently love the most don't feel like multi-year shows to me.
In order to last multiple years, a show has to have a premise that can be played out over multiple years without getting stale or lost in the noise. Take USA's Suits, for instance. The show is about a young genius who fakes his way into a job at a prestigious law firm and then has to deal with the stresses of being a lawyer while constantly covering up his secret. Suits is in its fifth season, and it still holds up because its premise is one that can be played out over multiple years. The main character's secret identity, the main premise of the show, is still a huge plot point. Sure, it comes in and out of focus to make way for other, smaller plots, but it's the main thread that runs through the show. It keeps the show interesting, and the show will end once that central conflict is resolved once and for all.
But some premises aren't meant to last multiple years. One of my favorite shows of the summer was Lifetime's UnReal. It goes behind the scenes of a fake Bachelor-like reality show to reveal what really happens on those sets when the cameras aren't rolling. It's intriguing, ground-breaking, and just plain fun to watch. But how long can a show with that kind of premise really last? They've already shown us what those shows are really like. The mystery and shock value are now gone. The Bachelor's reputation has already taken its hit, so UnReal has served its purpose. What can they really do in season two to keep the premise going without repeating themselves? Probably, the show will abandon its premise to focus solely on the characters and their relationships instead. And I don't want to watch a show about that. It's not the same thing, and it honestly won't be as good.
I would rather watch a show I love end early on a good note than watch it try to last as long as it can just to get cancelled when it gets bad. Give me one season of a really good show with an intriguing premise, an exhilarating journey, and a cathartic ending, and I'll be the happiest, most loyal fan you've ever seen. And in return, I'll give you my money. What I want in a TV show is a good story well told. And the current TV system does not support that. Instead, it renews any show that gets good ratings, even if the plot and premise don't lend themselves towards another season. And to me, that's a huge problem.
Now I understand that my opinion may not be a popular one. Most fans of TV shows are constantly asking for more, and they feel disappointed when their favorite shows end. But here's the thing: These fans don't really know what they're asking for. They think they're asking for more content of the same or better quality, but what they're really asking for in many cases is more content just for the sake of more content. And everyone can recognize when a show has outlived its premise's viability. Unfortunately, that happens way too often, and when it does, nobody wins.
So here's my request to the people in charge of the TV industry: Keep making TV shows that continue season after season, but also invest in more miniseries and anthology series. It's so much easier to tell a complete, well-thought-out story in a season than to try to keep coming up with new plot lines every year just because the network told you to. When choosing which shows to renew, choose them based on which series have stories left to be told, not based on which shows are the most-watched. And please stop renewing my favorite shows, because they're perfect as they are. We don't need more average stories on TV. We need good stories well told. Whether that's over one season or ten will depend on what kind of story you're telling. But please let the story determine the length of the series, not the other way around.
Well, that's my manifesto (or rant, if you prefer) on the current state of American television. Thank you for checking it out. Now, I'd like to hear from you: Do you think American TV shows last too long? Do you have a favorite show that was cancelled too early? What shows are you most looking forward to this fall? Let's discuss in the comments!