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How to Win and Lose at Series Finales

WARNING. THERE BE SPOILERS IN THIS POST. YOU WERE WARNED! THIS IS ALSO A REALLY LONG POST!

Unless you just avoided social media and entertainment this past week or you just don’t care, you may have seen that How I Met Your Mother ended this week after nine years. You also probably saw that the series finale had very mixed emotions from viewers ranging from “Great!” to “WORST THING EVER”.

Series finales are tough to do. How do you end a show for good after it has become loved and adored by millions of viewers? It’s really hard to try to answer every question, wrap up ever story line, or make everyone happy. Should you cater to the fans and give them what they want or do what you as the creator/writer wanted to do from the beginning?

Disclaimer: I’m one of the few who did like the series finale of Lost. I felt like that needed to be said.

I’m one of those people who has issues with continuity. I realize that sometimes it is hard to keep track of everything that happens. But what I don’t understand is when writers (of books, movies, and TV shows) just ignore everything that happens in the past and just tries to write around it and pretend it never happened. I’m not talking about a remake or a reboot. I’m talking about kids disappearing halfway through the show only to show up in the finale like it never took place.

There are the shows that end up getting cancelled way before the creators intended it to. Sometimes it’s right in the middle of a story line that leaves major cliffhangers. Other times the show gets cancelled abruptly and the last episode is not a farewell episode at all and is pretty bland. An example of the latter is the series finale of Full House. Sure Steve comes back in a cameo appearance but the rest of the episode doesn’t tie up series loose ends (Will Danny ever remarry? Will Jesse and Becky stay in the house forever? Why is Michelle still there?) and just leaves the viewers thinking that next year everything will be the same. Except there wasn’t a next year. There have been series finales when it turns out everything was just a dream (St. Elsewhere, Newhart) and ones where it turns out to just be a backdoor to another series (Andy Griffith Show). Then there’s the series finale of M*A*S*H which is the mother of all series finales because everyone and their mother in the US was watching it as its STILL the most watch series finale in history, and until Superbowl XLIV, the most watched television broadcast show in American history.

Let me give two examples of what I thought were good series finales to me.

1) Breaking Bad – As someone who had only started (binge) watching in the last few weeks of the show, I hadn’t been invested for a long time period as others from the beginning. But still there was great anticipation for how everything was going to play out. And as the weeks kept going by, the shows creators and writers managed to fulfill every thing I could think of. By the time the end credits rolled, I was completely satisfied. I did not need a spin off, I didn’t want to throw my remote at the TV, I was able to be like “Yes, this is how its done.” Loose ends were tied up, questions were answered, what I wanted to happened did, there was pretty much no other way it could have ended. Well done. Yes there’s going to be a prequel but the story is essentially done.

2) The Office – I was a big fan of The Office, until Steve Carrell left the show and then I stopped watching for several years. To me, Michael Scott WAS the show and without him, it wasn’t the same. But when the series finale came, since I had invested several years into it, I tuned it. And it was lovely. Even though I didn’t know who some of the people were, even though I didn’t know what some of the subplots were about, even though I still need to update myself with my favorite characters’ lives, I thoroughly enjoyed it. I even cried. I felt that the writers realized that old fans were going to return and made the episode a good bit of nostalgia mixed with the current trajectory of the show. (They even added in David Brent!) And it was a great sendoff and good closure.

Basically it’s like when I close a book. If I am satisfied with the story and I don’t need more, when I feel like I can let the characters or their legacy live on without more episodes, without spinoffs, or even a prequel, then that’s when the show has closed out for good for me. It doesn’t have to end happily. People do not even need to be alive. But I don’t want to see sloppy writing or rushed events or to play with the viewers’ emotions just for the sake of ratings or other things.

And in my personal opinion: How I Met Your Mother did not have a good series finale. I did not enjoy it. I’m not going to argue with you if you liked it. I’m not going to try to convince you to NOT like it nor are you going to be able to convince me on why I SHOULD like it. For me, personally it hit a little too close to home. You can read here about my love for the show. Basically I started watching it because I was in a Ted/Robin situation and I had to find a way to distract myself when things didn’t go as I planned. And it kept mirroring my life and I grew heavily invested in the show and the characters’ lives. To me the ending was basically the creators fulfilling a slap bet with me and delivering one to MY face. And the best part? There are so many people who felt the same way.

You can argue against me all you want and completely disagree with me and that’s fine. It’s not going to change my mind. It was a personal experience and we’re all going to think differently. But I’m just going to state why it was not good for me.

Barney and Robin get divorced within 15 minutes of the show’s opening. We just spent AN ENTIRE SEASON having their wedding shoved down their throats. We were forced to witness this wedding hour by hour. WE INVESTED TIME IN THIS WEDDING. Only to have it casually end as soon as the broadcast starts. I’m not denying that this doesn’t happen in real life. But I’m thinking the only reason why the wedding weekend lasted so long was because the writers weren’t sure that Season 9 was going to happen at all, and when they were granted the opportunity they had to find some way to milk it out. And so they did, forcing the viewers to become emotionally invested in something and then just act like it didn’t matter at all.

Ted finally meets the mother. And it was glorious. I loved their meeting. It was everything I wished it would be. Except. They don’t get married for 5 years, even after two kids. In what world, does Ted Mosby NOT marry the mother of his children? Don’t tell me that Ted finally learned what love really is. No. If you love someone, you will want to commit to them and marriage is that. And PLUS: during the episode “Trilogy Time” in 2015 while Ted is holding baby Penny, HE IS WEARING A WEDDING RING. It’s not that hard to go back and check on this!!

The mother dying. Honestly I’m ok with this. It’s sad and I would have loved a happy ending but it happens. No, what my issue is we never see Ted mourn. We grew to love the mother with the mythology and build up over the years and then Cristin Milioti was just fantastic. But we never see get to really see Ted with her. Had the show done it right, I feel like we would have at least had time to process and then not gotten our hearts stomped on and be forced to accept that….

THE MOTHER WAS A RED HERRING ALL ALONG. The show has always been how Ted and ROBIN were meant to be together. Because in the last few minutes, we find out that Ted has basically told the story to his kids and it’s really asking their permission to ask out “Aunt Robin” which the kids give because “Mom was barely in this story!” (The scene with the kids was taped before season 2. So all along they were going to kill the mom and have Ted end up with Robin. I despise this. I feel like they forced themselves into this.) The entire series we’ve been so sick and tired of Ted and Robin, will they, won’t they? Because Robin made her decision. She has shown over and over that she only wants things when she can’t have them. Robin is the girl every guy dreams of. No emotional crisis, drinks Scotch, smokes cigars, loves sports, and is super hot. In this sense she is perfect for Barney. But that even couldn’t last. Ted was willing to be everything she wanted and needed and she still didn’t want him. So he FINALLY lets her go. They made Robin LITERALLY float away. Ted meets the mother.

Tracy (the mother) is basically the woman who gave Ted kids because Robin could never do this. Yes, she is the perfect woman for Ted but not the love of his life. Ted is a suburban dad with two teenagers. Robin is TV anchor who travels, lives in the city by herself, with 5 dogs and is independent. Is she really going to drop all that for Ted’s life? Ted has been holding onto a hope for Robin ALL THESE YEARS. I got out of this, “Hey! That guy I’ve been in love with for years that I keep waiting and hoping on? I’m going to let him go literally and figuratively. Then I’m going to meet the guy who is going to be the perfect guy for me. And we will be happy for a few years. And then he’s going to die. But there’s a happy ending because I will still get to end up with the first guy!”

I have other issues but I will leave you with this Buzzfeed post which other than number 14 (mixed emotions? no, I know how I feel) is exactly how I view this situation.

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(561) Days of [Insert Failed Relationship of Choice Here]

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“Some people are meant to fall in love with each other but not meant to be together.”

Boy meets girl. Boy falls for girl. Girl tells boy she doesn’t want a relationship. Boy says it’s ok, he can handle it. Boy and girl become this weird kinda sorta no one is not sure what to make of it relationship that’s not an official relationship.  Boy falls in love with girl. Girl decides she wants to back away because to her it was never a relationship, needs space, and disappears. Boy gets confused. Boy seeks advice. Time passes. Boy meets up with girl again. Boy thinks he has a chance. Boy finds out girl is engaged. Boy goes into depression. Time passes. Boy refinds his passion and himself. Boy starts to move on in his life. Boy sees girl one last time. Girl tells boy she found love, just not with him. Boy hurts one last time. Boy realizes she’s right and he will be ok. Boy leaves older, wiser, and smarter about relationships. Boy then meets new girl…

No I did not just tell you about myself and genderswapped all the characters. (Though it’s a familiar story…) What you just read is a very simplistic plot of one of my favorite movies (500) Days of Summer. (Props again to @theharmonyguy for making me watch this.) Why is it one of my favorites? Because as I just said, it’s horribly relatable.  Almost everyone can usually identify with the two main characters, Tom (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and Summer (Zooey Deschenel).

The movie is told in a nonlinear format, which initially can be confusing and if you are the type of person who needs to have their story told in order, well you’re not going to like it. I personally really like it here because it gives the viewer a chance to view the rise and fall of a relationship perhaps in the way you wish you could have viewed yours.

“Did you ever do this, you think back on all the times you’ve had with someone and you just replay it in your head over and over again and you look for those first signs of trouble?”

When I first saw the movie, I was wearing my JGL glasses and was like poor Tom! Summer is a horrible person! Who wouldn’t want him? Then after multiple rewatchings, I soon realized that while I am still a Tom, he’s not perfect and he has MANY flaws. I think the problem stems because he is played by JGL who is insanely likeable is so many ways that I will not go into right now. And I think the audience is focused more on that vs the character itself.

These are my thoughts. Tom is a romantic who is so intent on finding the myth of “the one”. Why shouldn’t he be, when in all aspects of our society and culture we’ve made finding our soul mate the holy grail of everything? When he finds Summer, he falls head over heels in love with her, and just disregards everything else, including the fact that she says that she does not want to be in a relationship now. I kinda now feel like he set himself up for it. He probably should have asked himself “Am I in love with this person or am I in love with the idea of this person?”

It probably didn’t help that they ended up sleeping together which most likely made Tom feel even more connected with Summer. This is why it’s good to learn to be intentional up front and realize that if the person doesn’t want what you want, it probably won’t work. At the same time, sometimes you can’t help who you have feelings for no matter how much you guard your heart. And sometimes you really care about someone and when you realize that the other person doesn’t want you, it is painful. The reality vs expectations montage is exactly what I think everyone goes through.

The funny thing is I’ve had discussions with friends over who’s at fault for what happened in the movie. Like I said, it mostly comes from people relating to either character. The Toms will say Summer because she kept leading him on, mainly due to the scene at the wedding when she doesn’t tell Tom she’s engaged. The Summers say it’s Tom because he knew what he was getting into after she told him. Personally I do think both are at fault. Summer could have been more insistent from the beginning and I know she tried to make it work with Tom and she couldn’t. There’s no really right or wrong answer. Because this happens so many time in real life, it’s a painful way to visually see how a relationship doesn’t go the way it was hopefully supposed to.

There are so many freaking wonderful quotes in the movie (as I have sprinkled throughout this post) that make me feel that the script just needs to “STOP. JUST STOP TALKING ABOUT ME.”

“A girl and a guy can be friends, but maybe at one point or another they will fall for each other. Maybe temporarily, maybe at the wrong time, maybe too late, or maybe forever.”

“Just because she likes the same bizarre crap you do doesn’t mean she’s your soul mate.”

“Look, I know you think she was the one but I didn’t. Now I think you just remember the good stuff. Next time you look back, I really think you should look again.”

The final scene with Tom and Summer on the bench kinda kills me a little every time I watch it. When Summer tells him that she could have never really loved him and he looks away and you see the pain in his face, it’s like a stab to my heart every time. The whole bench scene can be uncomfortable to watch if you’ve been there (“You don’t want to be named as someone’s girlfriend but now you’re someone’s wife?”) but at the same time, it’s rather reassuring to know that you are NOT the only one that’s been in that situation. (Quality is kinda bad on the video below)

“I just…I just woke up one day and I knew.

Knew what?

“….What I was never sure of with you.”

Let’s put it this way. This is not a movie with a happy ending for this couple. They didn’t end up together the way they thought they were going to. There is a solid chance that Tom didn’t learn a lesson at all and will go about with the new girl in the same way that he and Summer acted. And I’m also hoping that the movie makers aren’t saying that Tom can’t be fully happy unless he has someone else in his life. But at the same time, this movie is a really good example of how you can get really swept up in a relationship, put your heart and soul into something that you really want, only to fall down HARD when it doesn’t turn out the way you want.

This can be one of the most uncomfortable movies to watch and at the same time, it’s therapeutic as well. You realize that the hurt will go away, you will have learned lessons from that relationship, and you can have the beauty of hope in a new one. All part of growing up and living life.

I think it would be interesting to watch this movie from the Summer perspective but it’s not worth having to go through the personal experience for it. I also wonder how it would be if the roles were reversed and Tom’s character was a girl and Summer’s the guy. Would the audience still relate to the “Tom character” as well? Or would they think because it was a female, she was just too emotional and all that? And if the male “Summer character” is more of a jerk for stringing “Tom along? Interesting points to ponder.

The other thing I love about this movie is the so excellent soundtrack. I borrow this CD from the library all the time (yes I know I could just buy or rip the songs but I don’t) and it’s constantly playing in the car because of how good it is. While every song is good, the two that stand out the most for me are “There is a Light That Never Goes Out” by The Smiths and “She’s Got You High” by Mumm-ra. Just go listen to it. I can’t fully describe the awesomeness of those songs

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Sigh. Yep.

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The Girl Who Waited

the-girl-who-waited

I am not good at waiting. I tend to be a very impatient person. When I want something to happen, I want it to happen now. I want to know what’s going to happen. I don’t like having to wait for things or to find out how it’s all going to turn out. In fact I’m rather annoyed that I have to wait several weeks before this blog post gets posted as I’m scheduling it in advance and not publishing it right away!

I’ve said this before, but I like spoilers. Yes I look at the back of the book when I want to know what happens. I don’t like being caught off guard. I’m not really a good person to go see a suspense movie with because I can’t stand the suspense.

So knowing my personality and preferences, it’s really frustrating when God tells you as an answer to your prayer that he just wants you to wait. “Come on God, really? Do you realize how hard this is? Can’t you just tell me what’s going to happen?” Nope that’s not how God works. He’s not like a genie in a bottle that grants wishes. He’s not going to make things go faster just because we want them to happen now. There’s a reason why he wants us to wait. And it’s usually when we finally stop fighting him and allow him to take over that we begin to realize why.

I have found for me that the best times for me to do my quiet time with God is in the car during my commutes. It’s good because, thanks to the lovely Northern Virginia traffic, since I have to sit in traffic there aren’t usually a lot of distractions that take my focus away. And there have been times, when I get severely frustrated with the slowness of how things that God has promised me seem to be progressing. And I tend to yell at God and just tell him how angry I am at him and how I don’t understand why things are going this way and how I don’t believe that what he says is going to happen…basically everything from Trusting God When Things Seem Impossible.

I want to know what exactly am I waiting on (is it what I want or is it something that has yet to be revealed?) and exactly how long am I supposed to be waiting (days, weeks, months, years? Should I be actively waiting or push it aside and forget about it for now?).

And then because I’m hoarse from yelling, I turn on the radio to fill up the silence. And I swear this song comes on the radio EVERY SINGLE FREAKING TIME I started to argue with God about having to wait.

And I’ll kneel down,
Wait for now
I’ll kneel down,
Know my ground

Raise my hands
Paint my spirit gold
And bow my head
Keep my heart slow

‘Cause I will wait, I will wait for you
And I will wait, I will wait for you
And I will wait, I will wait for you
And I will wait, I will wait for you

-“I Will Wait” by Mumford and Sons

And yes I know that this song has been super popular and every station seems to be playing it, and also the song is quite ambiguous if it’s about waiting for the person you love or about God. But the fact that the song would come on right when I needed it makes me feel more like it’s a small and subtle reminder from God on what I need to do.

  • “Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.” The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.” (Lamentations 3:21-26)

I’m not going to wait for specific things to happen. I’m not going to put my energy, time, or any part of me sitting around waiting for that one day to come for things I want. I can’t waste my life away. Instead I will wait for God. I will wait with God. The difference is that I am giving him the control and not me trying to make something happen on my own. I will allow him to have things happen in his own time frame and not mine because I realize that it is not the right time yet. God’s laid on my heart what he wants me to do and he’s made me a promise of what is to come. Who am I to try and force his hand?

“Child,” [Aslan] replied, “that is why all the rest are now a horror to her. That is what happens to those who pluck and eat fruits at the wrong time and in the wrong way. The fruit is good, but they loathe it ever after…….For the fruit always works – it must work- but it does not work happily for any who pluck it at their own will.” – from THE MAGICIAN’S NEPHEW by C.S. Lewis

A good explanation of why even though you may want something NOW, it’s better to wait. No matter how it good it may be NOW, wait until it’s time and it will even better than you could possibly imagine.

There are two excellent articles from Relevant Magazine that I have found extremely helpful to me during this time period. The first is “Why Won’t God Hurry Up?”, a question I find myself asking all the time. The other “5 Reasons Why God Makes Us Wait” is kind of ironic for me.  The day that article was published, that morning I had literally just had another “Why God? Why am I waiting? Why am I doing this? Why do I have to wait?” conversation with God when I refreshed Relevant’s homepage and then BOOM! That article then appeared on my screen. It was kind of freaky and comforting all at the same time.

  • “For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.” (Romans 8:24-25)
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Dear Diary…

IMG_20130928_114738So it should come to no surprise that I am a journaler.  I know…a blogger who also journals? Shocking.

I used to keep an online journal back in the day.  Remember Livejournal? Well I had that, its emo little sister Deadjournal, and also an Upsaid account, though that website no longer exists. Those entries were so drama filled, full of angst, and emotion.  I mean, what do you expect from a 18-20 year old college student who gets her heart broken repeatedly? I shudder when I go back and read those entries because 1) I had made them public and put the link on my AIM profile so that EVERYONE could see them and 2) SO MUCH $#*#@$!!! DRAMA ABOUT BOYS.  I pity the guys who I was involved with during those years because everything’s all right there in the open for everyone to see.  It is so embarrassing reading those things. Seriously I want to slap my 18-20 year old self repeatedly, what on earth was I thinking?! How on earth did I possibly think doing that would be a good idea? Don’t worry, I am not like that anymore.  If anything, it won’t be so obvious when I’m talking about you….(jk)

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve been learning (and sometimes the hard way) to NOT put my emotions out in public on social media. Usually one does it to try to attract the attention of certain parties in a passive aggressive matter.  So to stop myself from doing this, I started to write in actual physical journals.  I started off at first because I realized that my friends (who are awesome) didn’t want to be burdened all the time with my problems.

Journaling has been very therapeutic for me.  I write A LOT.  I bring my journal with me everywhere in case the mood strikes or if I’m bored. I’ve been getting the spiral bound bargain journals from Barnes and Nobles. For less than $5, I get about 200 pages of blank canvas. I’m currently on my 7th journal of 2013. Yes, I know that’s a LOT of writing. And before you ask, I like to fill up almost every page front to back, top to bottom in the books.  I’ve found that by channeling the first wave of emotions through writing it down in the journal helps out a lot.  By the time I actually talk to my friends about things that are still bothering me, I’ve already filtered out all the immediate knee jerk emotions and by then I have been able to process and think clearly.

I’ve gone back and read the journals I’ve kept for the past 2 years.  And I’ll say it’s been a very interesting journey reading them.  I kind of feel like River Song and her journal. Lots of spoilers! It’s quite amazing how many things I’ve predicted came true. But in honesty, it feels like when I wrote entries months ago, it’s almost like I knew I would need to be reminding in the future of things when I reread it.  I’ve even included notes for my future self, if I reread these journals five, 10, even 50 years from now. It’s almost like reading a story as it’s being written and wondering how everything is going to turn out.

I would hope that no one ever sees what I write though.  It’s like Tom Riddle’s diary. I’ve included part of my soul in these journals, they carry a part of me. And if someone were to read them without my consent, they would be discovering a part of me that I tend to keep hidden. It’s me being raw, vulnerable, and sometimes weak. It always annoys me in movies, TV shows, and books when someone snoops and reads a diary that doesn’t belong to them, and they get mad at what they read.  It usually never dawns on them that they are in the wrong in the first place for reading what doesn’t belong to them. That being said, there  have been times when I do share what I’ve written in my journal. You have to be the right person, in the right time, and the right place for that to happen.

Do you journal? How long have you been journaling? Do you have a physical journal or do you keep it electronic?