For the last two years, we have been trying to get through the entire series of Friends on Netflix. I never watched in when it aired, but the social stigma that swells up whenever you admit to someone you’ve never seen it tends to get overbearing. Did you know it ran for 10 seasons? With all of that, people still felt there was enough to write fan fiction about it? Now that we are finally coming up on the end of the final season I feel like I’ve developed a solid understanding of useless cultural knowledge. At least now when I can’t sleep in hotel rooms, I’ll have some idea of what’s happening on the Friends rerun I’ll inevitably stumble upon.
There is a precarious line between trying to tell a story and trying to feed a giant advertising machine. Everything, on every platform, eventually runs into it. It used to be that new series was launched with a fresh idea that was interesting and new. It was the brainchild of a creative person who punched out the first season’s spec scripts while crashing on a friend’s house and working early shifts for a company they probably hated. Now we have data that determines what shows get made. Now we have a thousand iterations of CSI, or entire series that are put together based on algorithmic results. While it may be good, none of it is surprising. All that matter is the networks know how much they can reasonably get out of advertisers or subscribers if they move forward with production.
I’m in the Firefly camp. While I didn’t want the show to go on forever, I at least wanted it to finish a story. It used to be that novels ended because there were only so many pages that you could glue together at once. A whole world began and ended between its covers. Now there are series. Huge, endless ones. You used to be able to travel an entire world in just a few hours. Now we are offered the same landscape over ten hours, but I’m not sure that’s necessarily the thing we want. I already miss Filmstruck.
There was a video I saw years ago that I could never find again about the death of Superman. The folks in the video not only talked about the implications of having Superman die; but to have him come back from the dead several issues later. If Superman can beat death, then what’s the point of Superman? If superheroes can come back from the dead, is it even worth having them die in the first place? And if they never die, their story goes on forever, how long until we just get bored of the granular little adventures we take them on?
Writing would be great if it weren’t the only thing I knew how to do.
I publish as much as I can, you’ll just have to wait for the rest.