On Long-Running TV Series, And Keeping The Faith
Alternative title: An Ode To How I Met Your Mother.
Next week sees the series finale of one of the most life-altering television series of my life. Trust me, tears will be shed.
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Now a lot of you might be reading that with the most quizzical expression, as if to say: “Really, Cavie?! Really.” But hey, the truth is that I really enjoyed How I Met Your Mother and I particularly identified with a lot of Ted’s trials and tribulations across the years. I watched him steal the blue French horn, I was there when he got left at the altar and– okay so maybe I don’t identify with everything but there is a lot that I do identify with, okay. And now it’s over… *sniff*
This timeous conclusion has offered the opportunity to talk about something I’ve been meaning to for a while now, but was saving for a particularly special off-topic Friday. That time is today, and actually, How I Met Your Mother was always going to be one of the examples I used when talking about it. The topic of conversation for this article today is that of long-running series, and how I have managed to keep the faith with some of them. More specifically, how others have managed to not.
We’ve been through a few really great series that ran for a very long time; The Simpsons has passed twenty seasons and is still going. South Park went on for forever. So did various other series the likes of Friends, Law and Order and more. Other series that deserved a longer screen time unfortunately didn’t last as long; the likes of Weeds and Boston Legal immediately come to mind. Whereas other series have made it to a perfect number, not too little and not too much; here we might consider House — the fine wine of series — and Breaking Bad.
Some series, however, have gone on to become a little long in the tooth. Smallville suffered this in its tenth and final season when, likely after the sixth or seventh season, fans began to get well and truly over it and by the time the final season came around, we were just ready to be over and done with it. Even I was glad to see the series finale in the knowledge that that is all she wrote, in a manner of speaking.
But there are other series that, while long-lasting, I adored up until the very last episode even when others had long since dismissed and at times criticised the series. Here I would bring the likes of the aforementioned How I Met Your Mother to the fore, along with the likes of Heroes, Scrubs and recently Supernatural, although I will admit that I am now seriously waiting for it to end; not because I dislike it or think it is getting too long (original five-year-plan aside) but because this neurotic, homo-erotic, thing that Sam and Dean are doing is getting on my nerves, and all I really want to see is Castiel being, well, Castiel. But I digress.
The thing about How I Met Your Mother is that I picked it up when it was at the end of its fourth season, when one of my closest friends pretty much begged me to watch it for years and I simply ignored his requests until one day I just gave in and said, “Okay, fine, I will watch your stupid show, please stop pestering me.” Over the next few months, I ended up watching all four seasons three times through and I could quote verbatim, any line from any episode in those first four seasons. I was hooked. And this continued until now, when even in its ninth season, when that same friend has lost interest in the series, I cannot help but watch every episode pretty much the moment it is available to me.
I will agree that it’s taking longer than it ought to have, to conclude. I will agree that this last season has dragged on quite a bit. But you know what? I don’t actually mind because I for one am enjoying the ride. And just like Supernatural is doing, I am enjoying that How I Met Your Mother is attempting to use its final season to close off every thread that has still not been resolved, including characters introduced in earlier seasons.
To me, that’s what keeping the faith is, when it comes to series. I watched it for so many seasons, even if I’m a little fatigued with things now and I see that they’ve run out of creative ways to keep the show fresh, I’m invested in the characters and I can still enjoy the series for what it is, rather than what I want it to be.
This isn’t to say that it’s blind faith, however. I have quit out of series before, even though I consider myself to be a completionist. Once Upon A Time, for example, became an absolute chore to the point that even watching it for Jennifer Morrison wasn’t enough for me anymore, and not watching it freed up an extra 45-ish minutes of my life each week, that I could then spend watching something properly good, the likes of House of Cards or True Detective.
On the subject of Heroes, I really, really, really enjoyed it, and was sad that it was cancelled — but I’m going to save this for another article in future.
Right now I want to know from you guys, have you kept the faith in long-running series? Do you still enjoy them even when it’s clear they’ve been around for far too long? Or are you one of those people who gets over series that take too long to conclude? In the case of the latter, are you also one of those people who is entirely unable to silently get over it and leave the rest of us to enjoy it instead of questioning our enjoyment of it? Comments section, go.