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Shows that went on way too long
"Californication" (seven seasons)
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has appointed former dissident Natan Sharansky to broker a compromise between Jewish women who want to pray at Jerusalem’s Western Wall, and the ultra-Orthodox men who have called their presence an “abomination.”
The feminist group Women of the Wall has been praying at the square for decades, singing aloud, reading from the Torah and wearing prayer shawls. But the Jewish holy site is managed by Orthodox rabbis, who maintain the Wall according to a strict interpretation of Jewish law. These rabbis, in addition to police regulations, have significantly restricted women’s ability to pray at the Wall.
As a result, the Women of the Wall have clashed with Israeli police, been forcibly removed from the square, taken in for questioning and even arrested — just for expressing their faith.
Both groups have said the ban on women singing and reading from the Torah at the Wall threatens to distance American Jews from Israel, according to the Daily Beast.
For weeks now, Sharansky has been meeting with rabbis, lawyers and activists from both sides to try to reach a compromise. But a compromise may not come easily, or last for long.
The Women of the Wall have tried to accommodate ultra-Orthodox restrictions, with limited success, in the past. As reported by Haartez:
Over the years, the Women of the Wall worked out various arrangements that enabled them to conduct their services; for instance, for a long time they were allowed to wear tallitot so long as they did not look like the traditional black-and-white prayer shawl. This led to the development of a colorful women’s tallit that became a symbol of the Women of the Wall.
Later, the police stiffened the rules and ordered the women to wear the tallit as a scarf around their necks and not to drape it across their shoulders in the traditional fashion… Little by little, these orders seem to have metaphorically cut away at the women’s tallit, with the intention of making it disappear.
“If the idea is how to satisfy everybody in the world, there’s no way to do it … Every Jew in the world has to feel that they are connected to Israel and that the Kotel [the Western Wall] is the symbol of this connection to the Jewish people,” Sharansky said of the pending compromise.
Sharanksy hasn’t revealed what his final proposal for Netanyahu will entail, but as Katie J.M. Baker at Jezebel writes, “Tradition is tradition — but sexism is also sexism.” If the Western Wall is really meant to belong to all Jews, the compromise will have to find a way for Jewish women to pray freely, just like everyone else.
"Californication" (seven seasons)
"Entourage" (eight seasons)
Much like “Californication,” this man-centric show started strong and buzzy -- a perpetual nominee at the Golden Globes and Emmys, and a perceived gender-swapped “Sex and the City.” Then it ground on and on, and what might once have been read as a sophisticated satire of Hollywood materialism became a grinding conveyor belt of self-congratulatory guest-star appearances.
"Will & Grace" (eight seasons)
Hey, did someone say “self-congratulatory guest-star appearances?” Look -- it’s Jennifer Lopez, and Cher, and Janet Jackson, and Madonna! The latter seasons of “Will & Grace” effectively ruined the fun of watching the show in syndication now -- will it be a fun and jaunty early episode, or a later episode in which title characters enact an Ibsen play about having a baby together (really) while Jack and Karen meet one pop star or another? The fact that the show hastened a widespread acceptance of gay people that, then, made the show something of a throwback by the time it ended is one thing; the fact that the show itself seemed uninterested in relying on its actors’ sharp comic timing is quite another.
"The King of Queens" (nine seasons)
This CBS stalwart just kind of kept going, exactly as long as was needed to launch Kevin James’ film career. In the show’s final minutes, a formulaic sitcom became a mile-a-minute soap, with the central characters considering divorce and then having two children.
"Frasier" (11 seasons)
Though it ended strong, "Frasier" had something of the opposite problem as “The King of Queens”: While the CBS comedy chucked a whole bunch of plot at viewers toward the end, NBC’s Emmy magnet stayed stuck in familiar ruts, with Frasier questing endlessly for love and Daphne and Niles in fairly unthrilling domestic bliss. The jokes stayed good, but this maybe could have gone one or two years shorter.
"Weeds" (eight seasons)
As “Homeland” viewers may be learning, Showtime isn’t particularly good at keeping its shows coherent over time. (Maybe this is “Californication”’s issue -- we wouldn’t know!) This show changed settings and, effectively, organizing conceits so many times that by the end, it had few earnest defenders.
"Nip/Tuck" (six seasons)
This FX series, too, changed settings midway through, moving from Miami to Los Angeles four seasons in for no compelling reason. The show’s most gripping subplots had a way of petering out (remember the anticlimactic solution to the mystery of the Carver?), and its bizarre tendencies overtook any sense of fun.
"Glee" (five seasons and counting)
The series has, like its sibling show “Nip/Tuck” (Ryan Murphy created them both), switched locations, moving in large part to New York once its core cast graduated high school. But what’s the point of a high school series when the stars graduate? Despite some lovely moments, the show’s heat seems gone, and attempts to get back into the conversation (the school shooting episode, for instance) have been more desperate and tone-deaf than effective.
"Grey's Anatomy" (10 seasons and counting)
Here’s the thing: By all accounts, “Grey’s Anatomy” is not a creative failure. And it’s still widely watched. But when you begin your life as a world-beating hit, anything else seems somewhat marginal. “Grey’s Anatomy” has shed more regular viewers than many shows will ever hope to get in the first place (same’s true of “Survivor” and latter-day “ER,” to name just a few). Those who stopped watching once the Golden Globe nominations petered out may wonder why the show is still on; loyal viewers know better.
"The Simpsons" (25 seasons and counting)
Like the “Grey’s” doctors, the Springfield clan and their neighbors still draw a crowd. But “The Simpsons” is so omnipresent in syndication and in pop culture that the first-run series seems besides the point (not least because, though there are good episodes here and there, the show’s best days are universally agreed to be behind it -- like way behind it, in the 1990s).
"The Office" (nine seasons)
There was a natural break for this show, where it ought to have ended -- with the departure of lead actor Steve Carell in Season 7. The latter years were a creative fugue state, and as NBC’s Thursday night lineup continued to flatline in the ratings, one-time fans could be forgiven at their surprise that the adventures of Jim and Pam kept on unfolding.
"The X-Files" (nine seasons)
Once one of the show’s leads departs and has to be replaced -- as Steve Carell did on “The Office,” or David Duchovny did here -- the show faces a reckoning; if the lead is so central to the show’s plot as to make people wonder how the show could possibly go on, maybe the show shouldn’t. And even “X-Files” superfans might have been happier with fewer seasons of drawing out the conspiracy string toward a famously unsatisfying ending.
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