The universal acclaim of the most popular Tv shows is unnerving and unending. The problem I have always had with television shows is that they often waiver in quality with their rise in popularity. There are very few examples of TV shows that refute this. Many things can contribute to the fall or lack of quality of a show. TV shows typically have a number of writers working on story lines, this could be a contributing factor to the poor quality of a show. What’s sets films apart from television is often that a film is more direct, with a singular vision. There may be more than one writer on the film but it is more fine turned because it does not unravel over years and years with the writers of the project frequently changing. All these writers working on a single TV series may have differing visions for the way the show will go. Studios set in and set they want the show to keep going, and so begins the endless cycle, year after year. The result, a lack of authenticity. These shows end up declining in quality assuming they were good in the first place. In then end you're left with something that only a fan of the series can appreciate. What if a TV series had just one writer, or a small group of writers that never changed, not a different person persons writing each episode? Could this make for a better TV show? There have been few example where the traditional writing structure of a TV series has worked out well, through these shows still fall prey to Hollywood cliches.
Theoretically more writers on a show can mean that more errors can be spotted, but this hardly equates to a better storyline. It's worth noting that having more writers equals more ideas being tossed around which can lead to good story development. This means writers with more knowledge of various topics, as well as experts in particular fields can contribute to story development. This could be relevant on say, a medical show and having a doctor in the writers room. Putting aside the technical benefits of having a lot of writers, these shows often fall apart whilst lacking the aforementioned vision. This is often what has made film superior and why people typically hold a negative view of television. That being said films can still, and often are written by more than one person; but it often a much more intimate relationship between the writers. When people sit down to write a film, they plan everything out; from the characters to major and minor plot points. Tv shows develop over years, this can mean the direction of the story can be influence by the public; conforming to fan criticisms in what is called “Fan service”. This is essentially when a TV or Film series’ story begins to change based on the wants of its fan base. Ultimately with this a show can lose what once made it special.
Not all shows are deeply affected by the crowded writers room. The TV show; Breaking Bad, “about a high school chemistry teacher dying of lung cancer who decides to start cooking meth with a former student to avoid bankrupting his family” is any example of a well executed show. Though Breaking bad does not necessarily fall prey to the crowded writers room, there is still a sense of “Fan Servicing”. This turns a TV show into proverbial marketing campaign, trying to find out what the people want and like most rather than just letting the writers be creative and let the story progress naturally. Often times this leads to the decline of a shows quality, often leading to a terrible ending. Breaking bad’s “Fan Servicing” is mostly isolated to the last episode of the series. Though the finale was very well received, it was far too neat and tidy. Yes Walter White dies in the end which is a fairly common and realistic end for a murderous drug dealer. But in the end he still got his revenge and his family (Presumably) still got a lot of his money. I think it would be fascinating for once, to see a character who does terrible things truly lose everything. In my mind the perfect ending for breaking bad would have been Walt dyeing losing all his money and jack and his gang living on, then truly everything Walt did would have been for nothing, the ultimate tragedy. But considering that today, nobody writes like Shakespeare I suppose we may never see a tv show end like this.
The slow or sudden decline in quality of some of the most popular TV shows can almost certainly be tied to their growth in popularity. Much like overly confident individuals, an overly confident writers room may believe they can do no wrong and often end up letting the quality slip by means of their cockiness. With growth in popularity comes a growth in audience, this Often leads the writers to bend to pressure of fans. A larger audience typically comes varying degrees of criticism; this is especially prevalent is science fiction and fantasy shows. These shows often come with with an impassioned and overbearingly toxic fanbase. Game of Thrones is a prime example of this, with a fan base carried over from a book series as well as one that grew over the years, the show received significant criticism. The show came to a explosive end when disappointed fans actually started a petition to remake the final season because of their displeasure with the story and quality. Admittedly the finally season of Game Of Thrones was utterly awful, due in large part to terrible writing and rushed plot lines. Though, such an extreme reaction for fans is hardly warranted; yes the finale season was bad but a reboot would most certainly have been much worse. Game of Thrones stands as a prime example of a once great shows decline in quality. What began as a well written show that showed its audience that no character was safe from death (an attribute that ironically made the show a lot more realistic) turned into a show that did what every other Hollywood film and TV series does; try to shock its audience (by any means necessary).
The shock factor. An extreme and unsightly attribute and trade mark to some of the worst Hollywood films. This is not to say that if the audience is shocked by something it is a terrible attribute of the film; Rather when it is forced and exaggerated, it becomes cheap and meaningless. It all comes down to the purpose of the shock. Was it for the fans? Or was it for the sake of the story, or creative integrity? Often times it is the former. This typically equates to an inauthentic feeling that seems mechanical. Pivoting back to Game Of Thrones, the big shock moment at the end of the series was Daenerys killing thousands of innocent people. Surely it was no secret throughout the show that Daenerys was a ruthless leader in the way she punished people, but she always looked out for the downtrodden and the weakest members of society. Though in her finale moments she decides to kill all these people why? Shock Value. The writers wanted to be able to end the show with a bang and shock the audience in the biggest way possible. Even if George R.R Martin wrote this ending that would hardly be a redeeming factor.
The shock factor plays into a similar attribute that contributes the a Tv shows decline in quality: spectacle. This happens when the writers of a show try to outdo themselves, season after season often ending badly. The problem is these stories are often too drawn out, all under the guise of making more money rather than trying to further a story for creative purposes. The same can be said about a film series (with few exceptions). In television we frequently see shows running for 8-10 seasons which is excessive. An objective person would look at the series and say: you have to be a fan to appreciate something like that, which is absolutely meant to denigrate the show. Eventually the quality of the show has become so dull that the viewer must be absolutely blinded by their love of the series to carry on watching and telling themselves it is good. Obviously this isn’t to say their appreciation of the show is no longer genuine, but any other person who came across the show in its late and finale form would see it as nothing special, possibly even mediocre. This is what happened with game of thrones, eventually it lost what made it stand out. Starting out as the show that broke some of the traditional rules of television, became a fan serviced program with nothing really special about it.
Dexter is another example of this. A show that was unique in that it made a serial killer the protagonist or the anti-hero. To think, this show had the audience rooting for a serial killer. The show made it easy for the audience to love dexter because he was killing “bad people”. He was seen as this almost gruesome super hero which may have likened him to a larger audience. Despite its premise the show was not as gruesome as one would think. All the gore mostly took place off camera. In more than one way the show was very”basic cable” even though it was a paid cable show. Typical to other prime time dramas the show had somewhat of a broken flow; there were new bad guys every week and there isn’t as much flow from season to season. Each season felt very singular like they were each a very long movie.
The steady decline in quality also plagued Dexter, which may have been avoidable. The show was the same season, after season. It was always dexter vs some other serial killer, and Dexter almost getting caught. The self realizations about himself that dexter had along also became dismal and often inaccurate to who he was; a psychopath. By the end of the show he was basically a normal human who killed people, not a psychopath. For some reason his character fell in love (something that does not really happen with psychopaths) and even began displaying signs of empathy for his sister and others (extremely unlikely for a psychopath). Dexter, as a show, and as a character became for too emotional, most likely so the audience could relate to it more. In trying to make dexter more relatable the show lost its touch. It became a cliche of network television with its pandering to narrative and character norms. Because of all this Dexter had what is regarded as one of the worst Tv ending ever, which isn’t saying much considering the medium is, television.
This now becomes about the fans of a TV show who in the end eventually realize that TV show that runs for season, after season without an ending in sight will lead to disappointment. This is because all those successful years of drama and ridiculous shock moments, all the audience really liked was watching the show but eventually it becomes unenjoyable. The writing goes stale or at least the audience realizes there was nothing truly special in the first place. All leading to a disappointing ending which will always be the norm with television. TV has always been about one thing: when there’s no more money left to make you abandon it and move on to the next thing.