Everyone has their limit. Their breaking point. Some run at the first sign of trouble, while others stick it out for a while longer, hoping that things will turn around. Some people, no matter how bad it gets, no matter the grueling torture it takes to keep going just one second more, hang in there to the bitter end, collapsing in exhaustion not because they enjoyed the ride, but simply because it’s over. And then there are some people, like me, who shrug and say, “Nah, it’s not worth it,” and move on without much hand-wringing.
Let me tell you why I quit two of the most popular TV shows of the 21st century, Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead.
Let’s start with GoT. I never read the books. I never even heard of the series until one of my nerdier friends told me about this awesome new show they were working on. I’m a casual fantasy fan and I thought, why not give it a try. Like pretty much everyone else, I was hooked from the first episode. Sure, there was blood and butts and boobs, but it was an HBO series and I knew what I was getting into (at the time, I had recently finished The Wire and Oz, two very adult programs). I’ve always been a sucker for medieval-style stories and GoT had an impressive cast and massive budget, so what was there not to like?
However, by the third season, my attention was starting to wane. I was getting tired of the incessant glorification of promiscuity and supposedly empowering nobility of prostitution, along with a story that seemed to move slower than George R.R. Martin’s typing speed. It seemed like the stage was always being set with the promise of something unbelievably awesome, and something would happen, but it would only set the stage for something further down the road. I don’t consider myself an impatient person but I rarely have trouble walking away from something if I feel like it’s going nowhere.
So I quit GoT after three seasons. I cringed when I saw the “Red Wedding” and chuckled at the moment that made SJWs everywhere froth and foam, when the dark-skinned slaves of Yunkai hoisted blonde-haired, white-skinned Daenerys above their heads and called her “mother.” I was tired of White Walkers just walking and Tyrion Lannister drink and condescend and wax poetic. I don’t get twisted up by on-screen nudity or gore but when a show revels in these things, it’s not a hard choice to change the channel.
I stuck with The Walking Dead a bit longer. Six seasons to be exact. I live in suburban Atlanta so it was cool to see a show that was filmed in my backyard, and the lush Georgia scenery makes me want to get in the car and drive down some back roads. TWD lacks the pornographic aspect of GoT, and while the gore is pretty much at the top of the TV food chain (I still can’t believe the show was rated TV-14 for several episodes), it was mostly zombies that were getting grounded and pounded so it gets a pass. No, I left because of the show’s insistence on nihilism, repetition, and predictability.
Season Three of TWD was the last season that I really enjoyed. After that, it felt like it was just spinning its wheels. Like Rick and Co., the show was wandering around, trying to stay alive (creatively, not financially). When Negan showed up with his ludicrous persona and equally-ludicrous weapon, I knew I wasn’t going to stick around. When he ended up killing Abraham (a character of little consequence and abundant mustache) and Glenn (in accordance with the comic book), I bailed. Everyone told me that I would be back, but I made good on my promise. I don’t even know what’s been happening or who is still alive.
I wish I was able to stick around for these shows. They started out so strong, and many people would contend that they are still going strong. I’ve always been a plot-over-characters person and I won’t keep watching just to see my favorite hero or heroine kick butt or get together with their love interest. I want to know that something crucial is going to happen and I don’t want to be able to predict what is coming. Since becoming a writer several years ago, I’ve found myself increasingly able to see where storylines are going or even predict the next line of dialogue, and I’m sure most writers can relate.
I guess the moral of my story is: if you feel that you should bail, then bail, especially if your conscience is bothered. There are plenty of other great stories and shows out there. They don’t have to be uplifting or always positive, but they should be fun in some way. There’s no honor in entertainment drudgery.
And don’t get me started on Supernatural.