Humans seem to have a pretty rocky history when it comes to knowing when to call it quits, and America’s television industry isn’t exempt. Some excellent TV shows have gotten the end date just right: “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” retired precisely when it was about to exceed the apocalypse quota for one television show, and “The West Wing” respectively retired Jed Bartlet and left the presidential legacy in the hands of the likable Matthew Santos.
Then, on the opposite end of the spectrum, there are those shows that ended way too quickly, existing as one-season gems everyone regrets not paying more attention to. “Freaks and Geeks” is almost a perfect ’90s TV show equivalent to “Breakfast Club,” dealing with angst-ridden teens and the relatively trivial difficulties they face in high school. The show, lasting only one season, featured such notables as James Franco, Seth Rogen and Jason Segel in some of their first television roles, and its disappearance is a television travesty. Along those lines, there is also the genius and quirkily morbid show, “Pushing Daisies,” about a pie maker who can bring dead people back to life to solve their murders. The show had an almost Wes Anderson-like quality to it — odd, but in the most endearing and likable way.
Last, and certainly least, are the shows that held on for dear life when they really should have died off along with their ability to maintain a storyline. “Weeds” just completed its eighth season, even though the appeal of the storyline and the development of characters seemed to have disappeared way earlier in the show’s run. The last few seasons have left the audience wishing for Nancy Botwin’s death so she can stop acting as the catalyst that literally destroys the life of anyone and everyone near to her. Joining “Weeds” in this category is “Grey’s Anatomy.”
Now, I embarrassingly admit I was an avid “Grey’s” viewer for the entirety of the show, until recently. I, too, cried over the death of George O’Malley, or that tragic scene in which Izzie cries over the dead body of patient Denny … mostly there was a lot of dying, and a lot of crying. However, slowly but surely these deaths began to compete with each other for the most ridiculous, or the most impactful. And the creators ran out of people to kill and ways to kill them, resulting in a string of ridiculous season finales, such as the shooting/massacre and then, most recently, the plane crash.
Now, after watching the season finale of the last season, in which the majority of the main characters all were placed in the middle of the woods “Lord of the Flies”-style and left there to fend for themselves, it kind of makes an audience member wonder: How many awful things can happen to the same people over and over again? How unlucky can one cast of characters be before the audience just kind of wants them to die and get it over with? Well, for “Grey’s” it seemed as if the loss of the loveable Lexie Grey and then Mark Sloan (played by Chyler Leigh and Eric Dane, respectively) was the straw that broke the audience members’ backs and patience.
No show wants to get on the level of “Two and A Half Men,” becoming so long and drawn out that the effort is almost pathetic. It might be time for “Grey’s Anatomy” to put down the scalpel and step away from the operating room. Leave the remainder of the original cast with all of their limbs, some sort of closure and maybe even a happy ending. As Grey’s teaches, all things must die, and it may be time for them to have a spoonfull of their own medicine.