"I wish the show would just be cancelled."

I was reading a discussion about this attitude today--I happened to agree with the sentiment in this case. I would have liked if the show in question was cancelled years ago before it retconned characters and stories that made the show for me (it's a soap opera, so it's always a danger of the genre). Several people objected to the idea really strongly--on a moral level.

Which seemed really strange to me.

The objections basically came down to the idea that wanting a show to be cancelled was selfish. First, because other people still enjoy the show so it wasn't fair to want to take it away from them when you could just change the channel. Even more, it was cold to all the people who work on the show. If it's cancelled they're out of work.

I couldn't really empathize with either of these ideas. First, since fans don't really have any power over whether or not a show ends other than not watching, saying it's bad to *want* it cancelled seems a bit extreme. It doesn't hurt anyone either way, and it seems unreasonable to demand that someone feel a certain way about one thing (a show having another season) because of another, tangentially related thing (the job of a stranger). Secondly because it seemed to brush aside the idea that there could be anything distressing about watching a story go wrong.

My role, as a viewer, is to watch the show, engage emotionally with the characters and let them live in my imagination. I'm aware of the show as a production and a place of business, and certain people involved in the making of it will probably come onto my radar. But in general I react with the world on a Watsonian level. I don't think about all the people involved behind the scenes, and I don't feel irresponsible for that. It connects, I think, to another idea I've seen a lot in fandom where it seems like there's a tendency to put a lot of responsibility on the viewer to support people behind the scenes. If I start feeling responsible for people behind the scenes might I not feel I ought to continue watching to keep the ratings up? Sometimes it's unclear exactly where to draw the line.

The other thing that seemed to get passed over was how an ending or a development in a story can be distressing. Okay, it's just fiction. It's not a real life tragedy. But if you're protective of the feelings of people who like having the show in their lives it seems just as important to care about the feelings of people protective of their memories. I wonder, actually, if there’s a different relationship to these things in soaps nowadays because they now seem to be almost entirely about backstage drama. I don’t watch any now, but any time I’ve come across conversations about them it’s all from the Doylist perspective. Stories are rarely discussed as if they’re events actually happening instead of a script filmed with actors.

The easy answer to those who don’t like where the show is going is that they they could just not watch the show anymore, but it seems like anyone who's been really involved in a story knows that's sometimes not so easy. It's like the "there's always fanfic" response to people who don't like canon developments. Sometimes people try to do that and find they can't. Canon is a powerful thing, even if you're trying to avoid it. There's always a danger in new information, whether it's backstory about things that fandom filled in for itself, notes about the future (even if you're not a shipper), or just plot developments that make you queasy. Endings, especially, have a special power to change what came before. Sometimes the story really would be better as a whole if it ended earlier.
sazerac: (West Wing; What's Next?)

From: [personal profile] sazerac

I'm with you on understanding (and sometimes having) the desire to have a show end while it's still good.

Also, I find that if I, as a viewer, choose to stop watching a show because I feel the quality has dropped, it's hard to do so while staying active in fandom, even just at the reading-fic level, since authors quite often jump off from points of canon, and those points might well be the newish ones responsible for a person jumping ship. It's a little complicated.

Anyway, I find the short-burst style of most BBC shows create a very different dynamic. There's less canon, and it's often quite spaced out, which makes me get to the "oh god cancel this while I still have some affection for it!" problem come a lot more slowly.

but, as with everything, YMMV
Edited Date: 2012-03-09 03:50 am (UTC)
nemonclature: Daria looking unamused (Default)

From: [personal profile] nemonclature

Hmm, I'd never thought about this before, but I think I agree with you. I have had that reaction, in fact with one show (The L-Word) I simply refuse to belive the last season ever existed. I guess it's similar to 'epilogue, what epilogue?' with HP fic. I certainly agree with your first point, we don't have some sort of duty to support the show-makers with our thoughts.

However I don't know if I really would cancel a show. If I did have this hypothetical power, I mean. If I had a show that was on an absolute high and couldn't possibly get any better, would I pull the plug? Or would I let it keep going, fingers crossed and hoping against hope that they'd manage to sustain their present level of awesome? I don't think I'd have the strength of will to cancel it, I think I'd be too desperate for more. It's like you said, canon is a powerful thing, fic and fanon are great and wonderful, but the draw of more canon is too strong.
nemonclature: Daria looking unamused (Default)

From: [personal profile] nemonclature

Yes, having an endpoint definitely makes a difference, I guess also there's the fact that different people have different problems with canon, so unless it's clear (like HP), there's the problem of choosing where the desired endpoint would be.
yourlibrarian: RPFforWinchesters-sterni75 (SPN-RPFforWinchesters-sterni75)

From: [personal profile] yourlibrarian

I have to say I agree with you when it comes to the behind-the-scenes employment on shows. It's an uncertain business they're all in, and yet plenty of people walk away from ongoing shows, whether actors or behind-the-camera folk, because they think they'll have better opportunities elsewhere or simply because they're tired of the project. So the idea that fans should feel obligated to feel any particular way about it for their sakes seems silly.

What that train of thought leads me to wonder though, is whether or not the quality of a show's ending (or indeed, even the unexpectedness of it) affects the long-term income of the series. While most people on a show don't profit much, if at all, from a show's longevity, some do. One could argue that many in the cast of Firefly did just as well from the series being cancelled in the middle of its first season as if they had gone on for many seasons. No one can predict the future and it might be brighter just as much as it might be dimmer.
sothcweden: birds flying high at sunset/dawn (Default)

From: [personal profile] sothcweden

This is an interesting idea, and I think I'm of similar opinion. Many have wished that X-Files had ended earlier in a more decisive way, because they enjoyed the Vancouver seasons more as a whole than the later ones. However, there was a point in Season 5 of Supernatural when I was hoping it would be over at the end of that year, and now looking back from two years later, there have been some things in the last two seasons that we never would have seen which were pretty awesome.

It's hard to know where to draw that line, I'm guessing, since TV is a business first, and they'll keep things going as long as it's cost effective. However, I don't think that we're obligated as viewers to want shows to go on forever, no matter how much we love them, since that sounds too much like the comments I've seen about how people are obligated to help the economy by spending money. Once a show has reached a point that it's no longer enjoyable to someone, then keeping up with it can feel like spending time/money you don't really have to give. YMMV, of course.



sistermagpie: Classic magpie (Default)

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