SPOILERS ABOUT CONTEMPORARY-ISH TV SHOWS WILL FOLLOW!
So, y'know, exercise a spot of common sense.
For many folks these days Comic Book Guy has come to dominate their psyche. Our engorged hero declares, "Worst. Episode. Ever." Nowadays, folks often think this, and there's doubtless an argument in support of it. There is a lot of rubbish about these days, and there has been for a while. I have to confess two things now. First, I have just listened to this Cracked webcast about the terrible endings good shows have. Second, I've only watched part of one episode of Lost, so I cannot empathise with those who have suffered worst in recent years. My brother and I have a certain way of approaching TV shows. It relies on assuming a certain comedy. I have been guilty of taking it out of the house, and folk out there don't appreciate it so much.
I assume there's a great emotional connection going on in their cases. I've watched some of Friends. It was silly, but I do remember feeling a connection to Chandler. I watched some Buffy, and thought Xander the bee's knees. Then I went off to uni, and got older. Fundamentally, it's all entertainment, so if it fails to entertain, something has gone wrong. It doesn't have to be fun, necessarily. We can draw something enlightening and beneficial from sad experiences (cf. Lost in Translation). In recent years I became a fan of Dexter, the show about a loony who, driven mad by his mother's murder when he was but a toddler, goes about killing folks.
The TV show is distinct from the book. The literary Dexter is, let's be blunt, possessed by a demon. Or a Star Trek version thereof: an energy being That doesn't make the books bad. They're every bit as enjoyable as the TV show - so long as you don't staple your Serious Cap to your head. The TV version, mind you, is a lot more family-friendly. Dexter does love Rita; his adoptive children aren't also possessed by murderous demons; his adoptive sister and blood brother are not still waiting to kill one another. It's all hokum, and - let's reiterate - entertaining.
But TV shows can go spectacularly wrong. The penultimate season of Buffy saw the writers decide that the "Big Bad" of the season would be not some ancient monster, vampire, demon, crazy robot or goddess, but...life itself. I can't think of a worse idea than that. You've got a TV show you're marketing at teenagers, and who is the baddie? Life. As if kids weren't depressed and moody enough! Inevitably, the season was a huge downer. Dexter made a similar mistake. Season Four had a sad ending. Distinctly sad. Season Five was dramatically effective. Future-Sherlock Holmes led a gang of murderous, misogynistic rapists whom Dexter had to kill. It finally cheered up six or eight episodes in. I'm not checking precisely where because it is too depressing to watch.
There's the rub. Don't make your entertainment too depressing to watch. A message the folks who wrote the last season of Dexter could have learned from their fifth season, even if they never saw that bit of Buffy. In some ways, the TV finale of Dexter was masterly. Personally, I watched it because I was interested in a bloke who doesn't understand interpersonal interaction working out how to do so. But a few weeks before the finale I read some thingy to the effect that there were two classes of viewers of Dexter (um). The one wants him to get away with his crimes, living happily ever after. The other wants that naughty boy to be captured, prosecuted and punished. In the finale they showed the writers managed to accomplish something truly special. They annoyed both of these divisions, since he wasn't captured and tried, nor did he live happily ever after. He just kept living in a very depressed fashion.
It is almost as though they sought to say that this is what the average TV viewer is spending his or her life doing. If you want me, I shall be filling a bucket with my tears.