When it comes to trying out new TV shows, I have just one rule: give it 6 episodes minimum.
From years of experience, I know that sometimes even the best shows need to build up past the pilot episode. Friday Night Lights had a slow start, Doctor Who was downright boring, and Buffy definitely took some getting used to. But every one of those shows has lived up to its potential in the long run and I was glad that I gave it some time. ‘Cause if I judged every show just on its pilot, I would have a severely limited viewing experience. In fact, there are only four pilots I’ve ever liked: Gilmore Girls, The West Wing, Veronica Mars, and Battlestar Galactica. The first three I loved because they threw you right into the normal flow of the show, starting with coffee at Luke’s, the president running into a tree, and the sassy Veronica Mars lifestyle. The last I loved because it was actually a backdoor pilot in the form of a miniseries. It was several hours longer than most pilots and therefore chock full of information and cliffhangers.
However, sometimes I end up scrapping a show no matter how many additional episodes I watch. I start something with moderately high expectations built on the positive feedback from friends only to be disappointed. And since I’ve been reviewing a lot of television on the blog recently, I felt like it was important for my readers to understand my preferences. So here are a few examples of shows I tried, but ultimately abandoned.
I wanted to like this show so much. I love Tina Fey and I think her writing is great, but even after watching a whole season of 30 Rock I still wasn’t into it. The characters weren’t really to my taste, I didn’t laugh nearly as often as I should have, and in the end I was forced to admit that her style of self-depreciating humor just isn’t my thing.
Parks and Recreation
I had a similar reaction to Amy Poehler’s show. I actually love all of the cast members – including (but not limited to) Amy, Chris Pratt, and Aubrey Plaza – but I didn’t love the characters that they were playing. I found most of the Parks staff to be irritating and, if I was totally honest, the idea of satirizing local government wasn’t really that funny to me. For a comedy show, I wasn’t laughing enough. Mostly I was just bored. I scrapped this show after a season and a half.
Sitcoms are a bit difficult for me. I like some (examples: Modern Family, Scrubs, How I Met Your Mother, and The Big Bang Theory), but often find the format disagreeable. However, New Girl was a show that started out really promising for me. I sympathized with Jess’ quirky awkwardness and laughed at her new-adult style problems. But by the middle of season three, I was out. The humor was no longer funny, the style of the show no longer amusing, and the plotlines proved to be kind of uninspired. I stopped watching and moved on to bigger and better things.
Similarly, Glee was another show that I abandoned halfway. The first season was highly amusing and the music well chosen for the storylines, so I jumped on the bandwagon with everyone else just in time for a strong second season. But by the third, I was off again. The problem with coming of age dramas is that sometimes they focus too heavily on forcing a message; loss, sexual identity, love, bullying, and teenage pregnancy were all covered on Glee. In the first and second seasons it fit well, but by the third it felt way too forced and the music choices seemed more geared to popular hits than quality songs. I abandoned ship just a few episodes into the third season.
This is a show that I would admittedly like to come back to. I gave it a fair shot about six years ago, but I think that maybe it’s time to try again. Our tastes do sometimes change as we get older and I’d be interested to see what I thought of it now. At the time, however, I was just straight up bored. The premise was good – people lost on a deserted island after a plane crash – but it was slow to get anywhere and I felt like I was mostly just watching people argue and sit on a beach. Coming off a serious Buffy marathon, this show was just not up to my standards. However, like I said, I’d be willing to try again.
I can tell you right now though, I will never start watching Girls again. I watched the entire first season in two days, enjoying all of it, but when I was done I looked at my computer and just felt awful. Girls was one of those shows where I felt like it was way too accurate to be enjoyed. TV is meant to take you out of your own world, to distract you and put you in someone else’s shoes. Instead, Girls played up the parts of my life that I wanted to avoid thinking about – being poor, job hunting, and the lack of self-confidence. So even though I liked the style of the show, it hit way too close to home for me to actually want to continue watching it.
What shows have you abandoned? Let me know in the comments down below!