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Shows that went on way too long
"Californication" (seven seasons)
Once you get past all of the posturing, opposition to immigration reform among congressional Republicans is at least partially based on self-preservation. There is a widespread belief that Mexican immigrants who become citizens are overwhelmingly disposed to vote Democratic.
Newly published research suggests that’s a complete misreading of the facts. According to this analysis, politically engaged Mexicans who move to the U.S. fall all over the ideological spectrum, very much like native-born Americans.
What’s more, according to University of Nebraska-Lincoln political scientist Sergio Wals, those on the right are more inclined to participate in the American electoral process than those on the left.
The notion that offering citizenship to undocumented immigrants will help Democrats has been widely discussed in recent months. In April, Politico asserted that immigrant reform could “produce an electoral bonanza for Democrats.”
That analysis was quickly refuted by Sean Trende ofReal Clear Politics, but fear among Republicans hasn’t abated. Just last week, longtime conservative activist Phyllis Schlafly insisted that Mexican immigrants “don’t have any Republican inclinations at all.”
In fact, “The foreign-born segment of the population is more up-for-grabs than generally depicted in electoral terms,” Wals writes in the journal Electoral Studies.
Wals uses data from two surveys of Mexican immigrants living in the U.S.: One conducted in 2003, and another in 2008. Both groups (1,023 people in one survey, 399 in the other) were asked about their interest in politics, political leanings, and interest in participating in the electoral process in their new country.
He reports the level of interest in politics remains quite consistent for the immigrants. If you’re into politics in your home country, you’ll probably be just as interested in your new land; if you were apathetic there, you’ll likely stay on the sidelines here.
Ideology also remains relatively consistent, with those who voted for right-wing parties in Mexico expressing support for conservative causes in the U.S. The same was true for those on the left. But actual participation in the electoral process is another matter.
“Immigrants who stand at the center and the right end of the ideological spectrum are indeed more likely than their left-leaning counterparts to express interest in participating in American elections, regardless of how many years they have spent in the United States,” Wals writes. “In fact, immigrants who stand on the right end of the continuum have a more than 90 percent chance of engaging in American elections, regardless of how long they have lived in their host country.”
In contrast, he reports, left-leaning immigrants only gradually move into the American political process, and never at the rate of their conservative counterparts. Approximately 52 percent of that sample expressed the intention to vote after living in this country for 10 years. After 17 years, that number increased to 66 percent—still far below the interest level of conservatives.
Wals suspects one reason for this may be that there is no real equivalent in the U.S. to the leftist PRD party in Mexico. Democrats align more with the PRI party, while Republicans are close cousins to the PAN. So those who were loyal to the PRD may find it more difficult to find a party that strongly reflects their beliefs.
Given that fact, and the high engagement level of self-described conservatives, Wals concludes that the Republicans have a real opportunity among these new voters.
“There is no single rationale inherent in the results of this study that the current advantage held by the Democratic Party over the Republican Party, in terms of electoral support among U.S. citizens of Mexican origin, could not be altered,” he writes.
But he then adds the catch: For this to occur, the GOP must “succeed in implementing different strategies and more effective means to reach out and engage this segment of the population.” Such as, say, passing an immigration reform bill.
"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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