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It Was a Fine Idea at the Time: The Best/Worst Television Series Endings

By Cindy Davis | Comment Diversions | September 8, 2011 |

By Cindy Davis | Comment Diversions | September 8, 2011 |

We watch our television shows with a critical eye, always looking for something on which to zero in and pick apart, even when we love them. And whether it’s due to the finicky audiences or a show’s inability to keep our attention, truly great series are becoming harder to find. There are still a few scattered here and there (“Breaking Bad, The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones”), but no matter how much we enjoy them, we wonder and discuss how they’ll end and whether or not the ending will be satisfying. With the choices lacking, I often find myself stuck on late night “Seinfeld” reruns or daydreaming about series of old. While it can be nice to bathe in the distorted afterglow of reminiscence, like old lovers, even those shows that we fell for head over heels sometimes left us panting and unsatisfied with nary a cigarette in sight. In fact, “Seinfeld” is quite the trickster; a poorly-ended culprit whose transgression has been forgotten because repeats are available at practically any given moment. We don’t even remember that it ended. “The Sopranos” left the audience at odds with its ambiguous non-ending and people seem to be about fifty-fifty over the “Battlestar Galactica” finale as well. But, how many shows have had truly great finales? It’s clearly easier to list our complaints.

I’d like to create some big build-up for my pick for the worst television series ending, but let’s face it, anyone who’s been around these parts for a time already knows. If you’re relatively new to Pajiba-land, I’ll give you a few hints: DECEPTION, LIES, STUPIDITY, BRIGHT, GLOWING MAGIC LIGHT! Whoa…who knew all that anger was still hanging around? (Everyone) Let me try to rein that shit in just a leetle bit. (Deep breaths) This series built an audience of rabid thoughtful viewers by developing multiple in-depth character histories for a large ensemble cast and creating an increasingly detailed and complicated mythology, with promises that all the “easy” answers for the show’s premise were not the answer. Hoping against hope and believing against all rational thought that the writers and producers had created a new and phenomenal labyrinth that would lead us to something we had never before experienced, the audience (mostly) kept up its blind faith until the very end. In the words of A Song of Ice and Fire author, George R. R. Martin, “By the time we reached the finale, I was still hoping for the best, but expecting the worst. I still think (the series) told a terrific story … a terrific story with a terrible ending.”

Okay kids, have you figured it out yet? Yes…it’s “Lost” and that was six years of my life down a fucking rabbit hole. Kiss my ass, Darlton.

Onto better things! My pick for the best series ending is, without a doubt, “Six Feet Under.” Alan Ball knew how to showcase life’s random nature without turning it into a hokey plot device.Though I cried those unattractive, snot-dripping, hiccuping sobs as if I had lost every member of my own family, I regret not one tear and not one viewing moment. In contrast with “Lost,” even though “SFU” also ended in nearly every beloved character’s death, it was no cheat. It was perfectly right.

Your turn. Oh and hello, there will surely be spoilers ahead.

Cindy Davis is certain that a couple of numbered bunnies could have come up with a better “Lost” ending.

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