Friday, August 13, 2010

TV TOPIC: Why "Gossip Girl" & "The Office" Should End?

Blogs are burning with the recent news that Blake Lively's caught the Mischa Barton bug, eager to wrap-up her story arc on "Gossip Girl" and tackle feature films full-time. While it's true that Lively has a better and more well-rounded resume than Barton did when she bailed on "The O.C.", any time an actor requests departure from a series, fans turn on them, like a chimp on its owner. Whether it's their favorite character or they're concerned with how the character's absence will affect the quality of the plot, it's rarely a welcome change.

Think about it. If there's no Serena, who will Dan end up with? Who will Blair turn to in her dramatic times of need? Who will be the blonde and leggy mannequin draped in the latest couture, setting trends so viral they become epidemics? Will we have to turn to Georgina and Jenny to split the responsibilities?

I hope not. I hope Lively's rumored desire to quit, Leighton Meester's budding music career, and Chase Crawford's attempts at reaching Emile-Hirsch-levels of stardom will lead producers to conclude that they had a good run and the finish line is just over the horizon. Dragging plot lines out, throwing seemingly insurmountable obstacles, like pregnancies and shootings, in front of them is just diluting the potency of the drama's appeal.

This season, we're supposed to see a different side of Chuck Bass, a guy who's had more rebirths than Blair's had vendettas. Every sesaon a softer side of Chuck peeks through and then Blair does something to shove it back in. While that's true to life, a seemingly accurate portrayal of how a pig-headed stubborn, guarded, entitled, rich teen would behave, it's also daunting. Characters are supposed to evolve, whether it's for better or worse. His regressions are like a neverending cycle of self-pity. This time around, after devirginating Jenny, failing to successfully propose to Blair, and getting shot by a mugger in Prague, he will return without his iconic moniker. He's signed over the company to Lily and refuses to acknowledge his birthright. He's frittering his life away in France with a new girl, and he's avoiding his life back in New York. Sounds like post-daddy-death Chuck all over again, with less substance abuse.

Don't get me wrong. Settled, domestic, happy Chuck is boring, but his constant inner battle between good and evil is also tiresome. We all know Chuck is evil sprinkled with good tendencies, the way Vanessa is good sprinkled with bad tendencies, so when is he going to just embrace it? When is Blair going to admit that she'll never find a better guy than Chuck? When will Dan finally find a girl he can trust? When will Nate...oh who cares about Nate?

The creators of "Lost" had the right idea. Whether you liked the ending or not, I think we can all agree that we're glad it's over—that the mystery is solved and we know how it all ends. If more series creators were ordered to give a pre-set amount of seasons with a beginning, middle, and end story structure, there'd be less random sublots—Jenny becoming a fashion designer for five seconds, Dan dating two girls simultaneously for one summer, Nate working for his politician uncle—and a lot more gratifying storylines. Think about all the shows that could've went out with a better bang if the creators knew they were ending sooner, like "Ugly Betty" or "Heroes."

There have also been reports that Alec Baldwin wants out of "30 Rock" and Steve Carell wants out of "The Office." While "30 Rock" is a neverending joke that has no real plot, aside from Liz and Jack's eternal loneliness, "The Office" had a huge subplot in the first few seasons that focused on lovebirds Jim & Pam. Unfortunately, once they got married and had a kid, the series lost its thunder. Their evolution into mature adults lowered their funny quotient substantially. Plus, I'm willing to bet a majority of its viewers, non-die-hard fans, were only tuning in for the romance, and now that they're parents, there's barely any. We're left to cringe at Andy & Erin, aka Pam & Jim 2.0, and wonder about Kelly & Ryan.

I think they should end the series with Dwight and Jim becoming co-managers of Dundler Mifflin, Andy proposing to Erin, Michael having a huge, over-the-top wedding with Holly, and Ryan revealing that he and Kelly already got married in Niagra Falls the same day Jim and Pam did...but she doesn't remember...except she does. Wink. Wink. The End.

I will most certainly miss these shows when they go. They've entertained me more than most TV shows do, but I'm tuning in for a story, and every story has an ending.

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