The TV shows that made me
I’m staring at a blank cursor right now, thinking about what I want my last piece for The Daily to be. It’s probably the toughest question I’m going to answer this month. I have a job lined up and I’m not leaving Ann Arbor when I graduate, but I am leaving the Daily. And, with that, four years of writing about TV on these pages are coming to a close.
My biggest surprise from my time at the Daily is how I barely wrote about “Chuck.” The show was one of the cornerstones of my teenage years, a show that helped me define the person I am today. It featured a character who took his nerdiness and made it charming. Teenage Alex watched that show, and looked up to Chuck Bartowski (and the actor who played him, Zachary Levi, “Tangled”).
I had a similar feeling when watching “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — Part 2” in theaters. I remember staring at the screen as the last notes of “Leaving Hogwarts” played and the beginning of the credits began to roll, in disbelief that the series was over. “Potter” was another franchise that I grew up reading and watching, and its ending meant a chapter of my life coming to a close.
I’m trying to think of shows on air right now where I’ll feel that way when they end. Maybe “Jane the Virgin” will be one. It’s a show I say is my favorite whenever somebody asks. The relationships in the Villanueva family are among the warmest on TV; their genuine love for one-another radiates off the screen, and when they go away (which might be sooner rather than later given the lackluster size of “Jane” ’s audience), I’m going to miss having that on my screen on a regular basis.
Still, I won’t necessarily feel that way about something like “Game of Thrones” when the series ends next year. There’s something mechanical about the way that show treats its characters as chess pieces that prevents me from giving them the same emotional investment I give other shows. The performances make the characters feel alive and the characters are constructed well from a written perspective, but there’s a certain something holding me back. When “Thrones” ends, I’m going to be so much more focused on the plot mechanics of what’s happening to them, rather than thinking about how much I’m going to miss spending time with them.
That element of putting the focus on the characters is why I enjoyed the ending of “Lost,” which is, surprisingly, an unpopular opinion. I loved its last scene because, even if all the mysteries weren’t solved, it was one last moment where the characters were together. And that was all I needed in that moment, as I was saying goodbye to them.
But, more than any of those others, “Chuck” is exactly the kind of show that’s hard to say goodbye to: One so deeply personal that it essentially formed a chapter of my life. And now, another chapter of my life is about to end. I’m about to graduate college and see my friends scatter across the country.
Goodbyes are hard. And saying goodbye to The Daily might be the hardest part of graduation. But, if TV’s taught me anything, it’s that the shows you care about never truly leave you. They continue to inform the way you watch whatever will come up next. And, in the era of peak TV, there will always be something up next. Those characters and those worlds will always have a place in my heart, just like the people I’ve met in my four years at school, and the many words I’ve written along the way.