Friday, January 28, 2011

MUST WATCH FRIDAY: Ending It All

Evelyn Vaughn joins MUST WATCH FRIDAY to talk about ENDING IT ALL (or, All About Endings)...

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.

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.

Like hell!

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.

This.

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.

Why?

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!

--Vaughn


UNDERGROUND WARRIOR by Evelyn Vaughn

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?













6 comments:

  1. Wow, what an incredible job the Pink Heart Society gang did in laying out this blog. I love their addition of the pictures of Joe and Alison! I'll be checking in later to see what anyone else has to say. Happy reading!

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  2. Evelyn, great post... And something you obviously feel strongly about. Have to say though I know quite a few 'critical darlings' that did make me feel too! The Wire and Broadwalk Empire for example, while being loved by critics both made me feel big time. Good drama has the ability to draw you into the lives of its characters and feel with them, whether its loved by critics or not. And when I'm watching it I'm not analyzing it or studying it, or musing over it, I'm laughing and crying and ... well, you get the picture! Just like I am with not-so critical darlings such as Lost and The High Chaparral.

    That said, I'm so with you on the subject of endings, I'm still ticked off about Pam Ewing's 'The whole of the last series was a dream' shower scene!! And that was like 30-odd years ago!! Some things can never be forgiven.

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  3. Good points, Heidi--hardly anything is "either/or," in the end, and a lot of great works can please the thinkers and the feelers equally. Lonesome Dove, for example, or Gone with the Wind (though I'm not sure I'd call either of them "feel good" literature).

    Isn't it sad that DALLAS will go down for it's dream-reset more than it's fairly brilliant "Who shot JR" cliffhanger? :-)

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  4. LOVE this post!

    First movie that comes to mind? PARTITION.

    There are some movies I haven't watched just because I know how the end and I'm just not interested.

    Thanks for guesting with us and you can thank lovely editor Mira for the layout of your post. :-)

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  5. Thanks for the feedback, Donna (and for letting me know MIRA is the goddess who did the great layout!) Shall I take it that I shouldn't watch the movie PARTITION, either?

    It took me several times of getting my heart broken, but now I'm much more wary about endings. It's not that I want to know "how did it end" before I see something. But I desperately want to know "will it break my heart," and I'm willing to spoil myself to know that part. Once I found moviepooper.com, I've been able to avoid several films (this last year or so, one with Sandra Bullock, one with James McAvoy) that would have both infuriated and depressed me.

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  6. They killed Joe? I loved that show in the first few seasons, and the best part of it was Joe, and their marriage, which was so sweet. They killed Joe? So glad I didn't see it, because I think I would have reacted like you.

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