There comes a time when everyone has to say goodbye to their favorite TV show.
Be it by the showrunners’ own choice or through an untimely cancellation, it can hurt, and I myself have gone through the five stages of grief over a favorite TV show’s end. (“No, they can’t have canceled my favorite show! That stupid network, how dare it cancel the only good program it has! Hmm, if I write the network a sassily worded letter, maybe they’ll be persuaded to bring it back. Oh, it’s just hopeless, they’re never bring it back. OK, it’s over … ooh, I wonder if ‘House Hunters International’ is on right now.”) Many are going through this with the recent finale of “Game of Thrones,” though that may be because fans hated it so much — an unsatisfactory ending can be just as devastating as it ending in general.
Recently, two of my favorite shows — Netflix’s “One Day at Time” and ABC’s “Speechless” — were both canceled, both due to low viewership, despite oodles of critical acclaim. I’ve gone through this before, and I’m sure I’ll go through this again, but it’s still sad to see shows in their prime end. Plus, these were such important shows. “One Day” had a nearly all-Latino cast, while “Speechless” centered on a main character with cerebral palsy who couldn’t speak. The former could pop up on another network (CBS’s streaming service is apparently interested in picking it up), while the latter is most likely gone for good.
And as much as I miss those shows, maybe it’s a good thing to have them end now. They both had strong, satisfactory finales, and though they left the door open for further stories, they felt complete enough that it’s OK they ended the way they did. Because considering the alternative … well, to go full-on “Pet Sematary” here, sometimes being dead is better.
It’s not unusual for other networks to pick up canceled shows, but the percentage of the revived show lasting longer than another season or two is very small. Plus, let’s be real, most of them are never as good as they once were (the exception to the rule being, of course, “Mama’s Family”).
Plus there’s the new fad of bringing back long-running series about 20 years after they ended, with varying results. For every successful, well-received reboot like “Will and Grace’s,” there’s the fact that Roseanne was unleashed on the general public again.
These revivals have ended up being the biggest offenses. After it was canceled following three wildly acclaimed seasons, “Arrested Development” took on a legendary cult status that many comedies could only dream of. And then, seven years later, Netflix brought it back for two additional seasons, which were met with a nearly universal “Meh.” The magic was lost. And now, whenever the shows is talked about, there’s almost always an unspoken asterisk attached to it — “Yeah, the show is brilliant … except for those two revival seasons. Woof!”
When a favorite show is canceled, it really can feel like mourning the loss of a friend or a family member, as melodramatic as that may sound. But it makes sense to be upset with its untimely end. You’ve devoted years to these characters and storylines, and it’s been ripped away from you without proper closure. Sometimes the best course of action is to mourn and look back fondly at all the enjoyment it brought you, or relish in being able to rewatch it whenever you want thanks to the myriad streaming services now available.
I’m going to miss “One Day at a Time” and “Speechless” a lot. Even if they don’t get picked up by other networks (which I’m sure I’ll watch, regardless of my misgivings), I’m happy I was able to enjoy them over the past few years. I’ve come to terms with my grief, and I’m ready to watch the other 5,349 shows on TV today.
Michael Hunley is a copy editor at E&E News in D.C. He previously worked as a copy editor for the Frederick News-Post. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.