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Shows that went on way too long
"Californication" (seven seasons)
For many high school students, the election of a homecoming king and queen is little more than a popularity contest. But for Kasey Caron, a high school senior and transgender teenager, running to be homecoming king of his Pennsylvania high school has turned into a battle for LGBTQ rights.
As Caron writes over at xoJane, his story actually has a pretty happy beginning. At the start of the school year, he was called in for a meeting with his guidance counselor and asked if he would prefer to be listed on the male or female ballot for the homecoming court. Having his school recognize his gender identity was an incredibly validating and empowering moment, he says. Though he hadn’t considered it before, after the meeting, Caron decided that he would run for homecoming king — and felt pretty good about his chances of winning:
I told all of my friends as soon as I could. The rest of the week, nothing could bring me down. I was being recognized as myself, and it felt so good. I posted on Facebook that Thursday night, the day before voting.
I let the whole senior class know that this was a really big step forward for our school and our community. I asked for their votes. I wanted to be on homecoming court now, just to show my school and kids everywhere that it was OK to be different and be yourself. And that gender wasn’t as black and white as some people made it seem. That it didn’t matter what was in between your legs, but what was in between your ears and in your heart.
But as the actual vote neared, Caron was called back to meet with school administrators. This time, the principal and vice principal told him he needed to remove his name from the ballot, explaining that the school’s legal counsel had told them that his presence on the ballot was “against the law” since Caron’s driver’s license still identified him as female.
After consulting with friends, Caron took action. He reregistered his driver’s license to reflect his male gender, and arranged to speak before his school’s board to share his story and fight to have the school reverse its decision. But after Caron addressed the school board, he was subjected to hostile questioning by board solicitor Timothy Leary, who asked wildly inappropriate questions about his genitals and repeatedly misgendered him.
The board did not to resolve the issue that night, but Caron is continuing the fight, he says:
This may not be resolved before homecoming on October 5, but I will fight this still for my graduation and for the Gay-Straight Alliance and the updated policy for the entire school, and for other schools to hopefully follow in its path.
I will not let one out-of-touch individual seemingly obsessed with my genitals hold me back from my fight as a young man who desires justice and equal opportunity for all.
You can (and should) read the full story here.
"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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