Three Reasons Why Television Shows Fail

As I sit here watching last week’s exceedingly uninteresting new episode of One Tree Hill on Hulu, I can’t help but feel an extreme sense of loss. This program used to be so freaking good. Circa seasons 2-4, One Tree Hill had some of the most powerful and creative story arcs on television. Now what has this program come to? They’re bringing back the cougar and young guy story line, a psycho comes into the picture and pretends to be someone they’re not, and ugly ass Mouth is somehow the only one getting tail in Tree Hill. Remember basketball? The voice-overs with quotes from famous authors? The original 5 characters that we have come to love?

There comes a time in the life of every television program where the writers and executive board hit a road block. Some shows find a way to rise above and continue to produce good television. Others fall by the wayside and they become syndicated history. In my opinion, there are a few main reasons why good shows fail, they are as follows:

1. The characters go off to college: Chances are pretty slim that you and your 5 closest friends all chose the same college to attend. So this puts the writers in a dilemma: how do we keep the chemistry between our actors when they are all at different schools? Eureka! We’ll create a new school that is in their hometown (or close by) and have them all attend there. There is no actual Penbrook University, the college  Cory, Shawn, Topanga, and Angela on Boy Meets World all magically chose to attend. And in sheer coincidence, that’s where Jack and Eric also go to school AND where Mr. Feeny happens to end up. Joey Potter gets accepted at the uber prestigious and uber fake Worthington College on Dawson’s Creek. Jen and Jack go to school at the equally as fake and half as prestigious Boston Bay College. Where do both of these fake institutions happen to be located? Boston (I guess I kind of gave that away), which is conveniently 15 minutes away from their fake hometown of Capeside.  Dawson then loses his way (of course), drops out of USC (idiot) and moves to where? Boston. Shocker.

Most shows that document high school fail when the characters transition to college. All of the family dynamics are lost, presumably because the parents don’t follow them to college. A bunch of new characters are introduced which takes screen time away from the characters we’ve formed a connection with. Most of the time the circumstances that bring all main characters to the same place are stupid and usually involve some sort of loss of faith, death of a family member, or being kicked out of school for ridiculous circumstances.

2. A main character is killed off / leaves: Getting rid of an essential cast member is one boat that should not be rocked. Yes, Marissa was annoying on The O.C. But she was the source of a lot of drama and half of the beloved pair of Ryan and Marissa. Were the writers missing broody and angry Ryan so much they needed to kill off his girlfriend to get him moody again? It’s common knowledge that I loathe the character of Peyton on One Tree Hill, but her and Lucas’ departure from the show have killed it. Ever since Dr. Burke left on Grey’s Anatomy, I can’t imagine Cristina being happy with anyone else. Any story line pairing her with another guy makes me cringe. Grey’s hasn’t been the same for me since Burke left, and then they have the nerve to kill my beloved George?!  FML. I am so not looking forward to tomorrow’s Lost, where I have been told that losties just start dropping like flies.

3. Story lines get recycled: How long can a couple play-out the “will they / won’t they” before the audience explodes? Apparently Friends can do it for 10 years. How many times can someone attempt to kill Dan Scott? How many times does Clark Kent have to save Lana Lang before she realizes he’s got magical powers? Seeing the same thing over and over and over again gets tiresome. The program eventually becomes so predictable that it’s not even worth watching anymore.

Alas, I have a sinking feeling this will be the last season of One Tree Hill. It didn’t even get to redeem itself. I am praying that the CW will give OTH one last chance to make things right aka bring back Leyton, ditch the newbies, and start showing the geniusness I know the writers still have.

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