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Shows that went on way too long
"Californication" (seven seasons)
Ryan Anderson, anti-gay activist and author of “What Is Marriage? Man and Woman: A Defense” is really tired of spending his days working to deny gay couples and their families equal rights. And so are the other marriage equality opponents profiled in a newsletter from the Concerned Women for America.
On his role as the face of the Gen X anti-marriage equality movement, Anderson laments: “Everyone I know who is working on this issue would rather be doing something else, but we feel like we have an obligation to be doing this.”
A snapshot of their many, many hardships, if you can bear to read them:
CNN hosts bully them
“I think marriage exists to bring a man and woman together as husband and wife to be mother and father to any children their union produces,” said [Ryan] Anderson during a live appearance that night on Piers Morgan Live on CNN. Anderson didn’t get invited to the studio’s table where Morgan sat with Suze Orman, the best-selling author, ﬁnancial guru and aggressive advocate for gay marriage. They looked down on Anderson from an elevated stage as he sat in the audience. The lecture they gave included calling the young conservative and his ideas bizarre, odd, oﬀensive and uneducated.
Confrontation is part of the job description (and confrontation is a drag)
In February, a liberal group at Columbia University hijacked a Love and Fidelity values conference by reserving the bulk of the tickets. They interrupted the speaker, standing to protest with signs.But [Caitlin Seery, director of conservative Love and Fidelity Network] doesn’t believe the marriage cause is lost: “Just because things are polling one way today doesn’t mean that will always be the case. Forty years ago the media said that all young people are becoming pro-choice. We proved them wrong. The youngest generation is the most pro-life generation.”
Their discrimination against gay people may get them discriminated against
Young Christians still will face growing temptations to conform to the world’s understanding that marriage is primarily about emotional fulﬁllment. The scorn they endure may one day include discrimination in the workplace. Anderson, for example, faces uncertain job prospects in secular academia as an author of a book defending traditional marriage.
They blame themselves for being asleep at the wheel while traditional marriage turned down the gay road to ruin
Many of us have drafted oﬀ the importance of marriage for years. We’ve known at a subconscious level that this institution is important. Now that it is threatening to be undone culturally, we are waking up. It seems unthinkable even ﬁve years ago that this issue would be vaulted into the cultural mainstream.
The world is totally out to get them (and they can’t even look at the Internet in peace)
[Alison Howard, CPAC "unicorn"] gets calls from her younger sisters in New Jersey who navigate a world where teachers advocate for same-sex marriages in the classroom. Her advice? Get away from cell phones, computers, and peers — and pray.
"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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