Did anybody else watch the series ender of MEDIUM, last week?
The final 5 minutes were sweet, but did not in any way make up for the way the show sucker-punched its fans through the rest of the episode.
THEY KILLED OFF JOE! The happy husband of our happy medium Alison. The girls' father. Joe. And he doesn't come back as a ghost for over forty years, so the rest of the Dubois family must live on without him. But when Alison dies in her 80's, his ghost is waiting for her, ala THE GHOST AND MRS. MUIR, except that in TG&MM, the ghost was never alive (for Mrs. Muir, anyway) and so she didn't have to live through his death. The ghost leaves Mrs. Muir in the hopes that she can have some real love in her life. In contrast, Joe's death deprives Alison of the real love of her life (despite that she can talk to ghosts, and Joe's dad has been hanging around for years). But hey, he's there when she dies.
"How sweet," we're supposed to think.
Seven years of a series, and this is how they end it?
Other television shows have similarly betrayed their fans. XENA, WARRIOR PRINCESS? They killed Xena. BEAUTY AND THE BEAST? They killed Catherine. ROSEANNE? They killed Dan (turns out he'd been dead for awhile, and the final season or two were just in Roseanne's imagination as she wrote a book).
I hate it just as much when movies screw viewers over with the ending. Some movies, you don't expect there to be a particularly good ending. 300? Even without knowing your Spartan history, you know not to hope. But others advertise themselves as romances or comedies--or romantic comedies--and then throw in a "twist" that makes it all horrible. The prize for this, as far as I'm concerned, was PURPLE ROSE OF CAIRO.
I still have not forgiven Woody Allen, and I have never watched another of his movies.
I have also learned to check out spoilers at sites like moviepooper.com.
Life may be all about the journey, not the destination. But fiction isn't life. Okay, I think it is life, a kind of life, sometimes even more vital than the "real" one, but it's not OUR life. And in books, movies, and television series, the destination matters.
Which is, I think, the magic of genre fiction like romance novels. We are--with the understandable exception of the horror genre--guaranteed a happy ending. And this is vital.
Some books, movies, TV shows are written to be critical darlings. (SOPRANOS *cough* DEADWOOD *cough cough* DAMAGES). The characters may not be particularly likeable. The situations they're in aren't especially pleasant. And the endings are often depressing as snot. This is okay, for critical darlings. MADAME BOVARY and ANNA KARENINA aren't especially happy-fun-time stories either. But critical darlings are written to be studied, analyzed, thought about, mused over. They're there to make us think.
Genre fiction, like a lot of other movies and TV, is written to make us feel. We want to feel the excitement of the hero almost dying. We want to get swept up in the love story. For this to happen, we have to feel safe enough to take down our emotional shields and wallow in the imaginary world we've chosen.
For a work that has established itself as a fairly fun, relationship-oriented story--like MEDIUM--to decide after seven years that it's going to go for an artsy, MADAME BOVARY style ending, is false advertising. It's a sucker punch. It's a betrayal of the audience that allowed it life.
So shame on those writers.
And, more to the point? Hooray for romance, and its writers, and its readers, who allow it life.
What experiences have you had with unsatisfying endings? Please don't "spoil" new-release movies, in case other readers here haven't seen them. And thanks ahead of time for your insights!
Sibyl Dane lost her father and her childhood as payment for a crime she never committed. Now a legal adult, she's devoted her life to bringing down the men truly responsible: A powerful secret society called the Comitatus.
Trace Beaudry never met his father until adulthood. It took Trace less than a decade to then reject the man, a powerful New Orleans judge--and a leader of the Comitatus.
She's a computer genius who doubts she knows how to love anyone. He's a gruff, no-holds-barred fighter who doesn't think he deserves anyone's love. But when a mysterious medieval sword brings the two together, can Sibyl trade one obsession for another?