Why Do We Even Bother Trying to Keep Up With Peak TV?
It was announced today that Showtime has decided not to renew Masters of Sex for a fifth season. For the— I’m assuming, based on the fourth season ratings numbers— maybe seven of you still watching, I’d guess your reactions vary from slight disappointment and a lack of surprise to simply a lack of surprise. I’m not sure how many people out there— save anyone involved in actually making the show, of course— are really, deeply mourning the loss of Masters of Sex.
And that’s not because it’s not a good show. It’s a GREAT show. And this was probably the perfect time for it to end, with season four ending earlier this month, seeing (spoilers, I guess, if it matters) Bill and Virginia married, and Libby moving to California with Bill’s kids, and oh my god I don’t think I could have taken watching whatever Betty has to go through next. And because season four was so much better than the weird gorilla-centric season three (Alan Sepinwall suggests that “Fluffing The Gorilla should replace Jumping The Shark in the TV vernacular”), the show is at that rare point where fans won’t mourn it as “gone too soon,” but also won’t have memories tainted by a lousy trailing off.
The reason why I, personally and selfishly, had a way-too-strong reaction to the news of cancellation was because I had never seen a minute of the show until a month or two ago, and then made it my fall binge. It’s hard to not be mad about a show’s cancellation WHEN I JUST CAUGHT UP LAST WEEK.
And that’s the big pitfall of Peak TV. There’s just too much of it. Sure, it’s a pretty great problem to be complaining about too much of a good thing, but how are we supposed to keep up? There will be some shows you watch week to week, some you fall behind on and catch up later, some you finally get around to binging months or even years later. But if I had waited two more months to finally getting around to starting Masters of Sex, would I have ever actually begun, knowing that it wasn’t going to fill a hole in the current television landscape?
For shows that aren’t quite as good (or maybe just not as popular) as the Mad Mens and the Breaking Bads, once they’re over, they’re mostly just over. For those that like to be totally caught up with all the prestige television, I imagine everyone has their own mix of actually liking the show, wanting the smugness that comes with being more knowledgable and in the loop (TELEVSION IS CULTURE, DAMNIT), and the conversation element. You can catch up on Game of Thrones at the end of a season, but if you like being part of the conversation, you don’t just want to be current, you have to be.
When current conversation is no longer a factor, that’s bound to affect what we invest our time into. And there’s so much good, really good, TV right now, that we do have to strategize what we watch and how we watch it. Television, for many of us, is no longer a simple past time; it’s an investment of time.
I guess what I’m saying is, nothing matters. You’ll dump six years into Lost and it’ll end up disappointing you, or you’ll stick with a show through it’s gorilla show and be glad you did, and then once you’re caught up it will leave you anyway.
In other news, Donald Trump got elected President, the man who invented the Big Mac lived to be 98, and everything you try to do to better yourself is pointless.
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