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Shows that went on way too long
"Californication" (seven seasons)
The media love to analyze millennials. It’s almost like there’s a competition to see who can rip apart Generation Y in the snarkiest fashion.
People have quickly taken to the blogosphere to critique the piece for improperly comparing our generation to our parents’ generation. After all, the piece fails to mention that our parents had less unemployment, more access to union jobs, a lower uninsured rate for health insurance, cheaper tuition, and cheaper and more accessible home mortgages. They also had a higher average income with a high school diploma alone and made about the same as we make today, despite the dramatic rise in costs and our productivity. Basically, life is pretty bad, and empirically worse for millennials than their parents.
Meanwhile, as The Atlantic noted in a piece titled “Every Every Every Generation Has Been the Me Me Me Generation,” it’s inaccurate to say our generation particularly has feelings of entitlement. Young people in general tend to be a bit more self-absorbed, and therefore every generation goes through that phase. The difference, however, is that our generation actually has it worse, and has in some ways felt less entitled, accepting their looming fate instead of arrogantly demanding more.
Which leads me to the biggest problem underlying the entire article: that talking about our unhappiness is only aggravating because we simply can’t handle reality. Therefore, we should shut up and suck it up.
But any time you imply to millennials, or anyone for that matter, that they should “stop complaining, you don’t have it that bad,” you ultimately work to prop up a system of inequality — which is often the root cause of unhappiness. After all, there’s not too much to be happy about when you’re living in a society where your life — food, shelter, healthcare, etc. — relies on a financial system that is structured in a way that squeezes profits out of a majority of people, who are left unfulfilled, to fulfill a few people’s lives and make them very wealthy.
Yet, our desire to be happy amidst our dark reality is most likely what made this piece so popular. I saw too many friends posting this piece under statuses that read: “Guess that’s why we’re not happy haha” or “We really should stop complaining so much.” These are friends whose realities are quite harsh — making around $25,000 a year while trying to afford rent and food while paying back their more than $20,000 student loans. But instead of making millennials feel united through anger, which often is a catalyst for change, the piece manipulates millennials into feeling united over their ‘unwarranted’ unhappiness, which leaves them with nothing more than a smirk and a shrug — the ultimate act of millennial complicity.
Perhaps the real way to deal with our unhappiness is to get motivated to fight to change our reality, which fortunately thousands of millennials are already doing. Certainly, fighting for change doesn’t mean your struggles will be replaced by happiness. But joining with others to express your collective unhappiness does work wonders for the mind, body and soul. After all, repressing feelings and staying silent never brought about any real change or happiness.
Alyssa Figueroa is an associate editor at AlterNet. Follow her on Twitter @alyssa_fig.
"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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