Listen, I am no expert in script writing. I have yet to take a writing workshop and I dropped out of college a hot minute ago. What I do know comes from years of watching each episode of my favorite shows 348,786 times by myself. I used to not admit this to people, but here we are.
As a human who just quit her job and did not get into HBO’s Writing Fellowship, ya girl is paying major attention to what’s working right now. I’m watching everything from Orange is the New Black to Bill Nye the Science Guy (the Portlandia of my fifth grade year). But you know what’s giving me the most headache? How many shows, particularly comedies, have “the lost season.” The Office (Seasons 8 & 9), New Girl (Season 3 help us all), The Mindy Project (Season 3), Workaholics (Season 5)- each of these sparkly gems have taken a sharp turn into Crapville, USA at some point in their life cycles. What the eff, man?
THE LOST SEASON
Each show I mentioned has great cast chemistry and brilliant dialogue. And honestly, I’m covering a very broad topic here with only a few examples. But get with me for a second, because I have a theory that I’m sure actual employed writers will want to punch me in the face for. What I see happening in each of these disappointing seasons is poor character development.
When New Girl’s Nick and Jess finally got together, not only was their relationship mundane, but so were the lives of their supporting characters. The most exciting thing to happen to Winston, a grown man, was that he started talking to his cat. And even their conversations weren’t funny. I didn’t care that Michael Scott left Scranton, but I did care that Kevin became so stupid he couldn’t function in the workplace, and Jim and Pam became bitter versions of themselves.
You could argue that what I’m calling the lost season is simply a reflection of reality. Pregnancy, marriage conflict, and boredom happen in our day to day lives. But for me, that’s why these stories are so important. They mirror your real life in such a way that they provide you relief and escape. Many times, these shows have whisked me away, allowing me to come back and address my own crapfest with a sense of humor and compassion I didn’t have before.
I want to prevent the lost seasons, and in order to do this I must learn. So, I asked around, and fellow writer/State Lines creator/tv enthusiast Jarrett Haas gave me his take on this, which was completely different than mine. I loved it.
“Sarah, great detective work, but I think you may be missing something. The lost season does exist, but not for the reason you think. It’s because of shows that last ONE season too long. See Scrubs and How I Met Your Mother for examples. Scrubs had THE PERFECT ending in season 8, but they tried for “just ONE more year” and it didn’t work. How I Met Your Mother had a great ending in mind, but lasted so long that they scrapped it and came up with a nonsense season. So yes, the lost season exists, but not because of what you said. What I said!”
Let the debate begin, because I want to be successful in the future.
Fortunately, as many have proven, a solid show can bounce back. New Girl killed its most recent season and I think The Office ended in perfection. This makes me respect the writers even more, I think. One day I may have an actual writing job, and I’m sure I will reread this article and publicly apologize for my bold opinions and lack of experience. Until then, I’m just a fan, y’all. I’m just a fan.