It happens, even with the best-loved of shows. There reaches a moment in the its run when something happens, something so wrong and downright egregious that it shakes your very faith in the once faultless series and leaves you considering the unthinkable: abandoning ship. Be it the a questionable decision on the part of the protagonist, a poorly written episode, or the death of a favorite Scottish doctor, there comes a time, a moment, when you have to take stock and ask yourself: “Do I really want to continue watching?”. In some cases, the answer is “Yes” and all is (mostly) forgiven. In other instances, the answer is “I’m out!”.
I was thinking about this the other day after watching the last – my last – episode of Hello Ladies, the HBO comedy starring Stephen Merchant as an opportunistic Englishman living in L.A. He is a cad, desperate and incorrigible, who goes to ridiculous lengths to hook up with the ladies, even if it means abandoning his friends or throwing them under the bus. So imagine my surprise in last week’s episode when he finally scores a date with the gorgeous model he has been pursuing, has her invite him out for a midnight skinny-dip, and he…passes on this golden opportunity in order to cheer up a depressed friend. Wait! What?! Never mind the fact that his friend would be as equally depressed the next morning as she would be in the half hour it would take him to reach her. No, he chooses to go – right then and there. And, yes, it demonstrates what a great friend he is, that he’s a softie at heart…but the only problem is it makes absolutely no sense and I don’t buy it for a second. His choice, while admirable, is completely out of character and feels false. It’s manufactured sentimentality. I felt betrayed by a show I thought I knew and trusted and was faced with a decision we must all, at some point, make: Am I in or am I out? In this particular case, I decided, I was out.
I’ve broken up with shows for lesser offenses and stuck with shows whose transgressions have been far more grievous. I suppose it depends on you and the show in question, and the length and depth of your relationship.
So, today, I’d like to hear about your t.v. break-ups. Specifically, I want to hear about those questionable calls, those intolerable episodes, those bewildering moments that made you reconsider your commitment to a show and eventually decide: “I’m out!”