Online Streaming: The Problem with TV Finales

BreakingModern — The end of a TV series can be bittersweet for fans who are torn between disappointment over a show’s ending and a desire to see all loose ends tied up. This places a great deal of pressure on show producers and writers, who are tasked with meeting extremely high expectations. For a show with a rabidly loyal fan base (like The Sopranos), a finale could earn complaints for many years after its initial air date.

Online Streaming

This has never been truer than it is now, when viewers can binge-watch a series years, even decades, after it leaves the air. Shows like Dexter and Weeds can connect with a new audience, including a younger generation that wasn’t old enough at the time. Because shows have such lasting impact, however, producers are under even more pressure. Instead of merely being ridiculed by TV critics, a bad finale can actually scare away online viewers.

The Worst Finales

When people think of “bad finales,” often two shows come to mind, especially for younger viewers, who might not remember the Dawson’s Creek’s finale. Today’s fans often cite Lost and The Sopranos as the worst finales ever. In fact, people still rant about the endings of these shows on various forums (although, to be fair, there are also diehard fans who defend those finales). If this were the ’70s or ’80s, viewers would grumble to friends and family for a while, and occasionally these particular episodes would be mentioned in a comprehensive TV Guide “worst finales of all time” article. And that’s it. Bad finales wouldn’t necessarily keep fans from watching reruns.

However, Netflix members today have the option of watching every episode of Lost in one sleepless week, perhaps during summer vacation. Amazon Prime members can catch all six seasons of The Sopranos through the service. The shows were known for being addictive when they originally aired, so it stands to reason that many viewers will watch entire seasons of the show straight through, rather than parse it out one episode at a time. Before starting a new TV series, some viewers will do basic Google research and quickly unearth the many complaints about a series finale, at which point they may decide to forego the entire show altogether, rather than waste hours of their lives watching a show with a bad conclusion.

Online Streaming

Changing the Tone

But no show brings this question to mind more than How I Met Your Mother. The entire nine-season series was built on one underlying premise, which is actually the title of the show. How did Ted meet his children’s mother? Viewers were told from episode one that fans would eventually meet her and the producers delivered on that promise. Without giving anything away — fans weren’t just disappointed by the ending, they were angry and outraged.

In an online streaming world, a bad series finale can actually scare viewers away. Especially with a show like How I Met Your Mother, a program that was built around the title’s premise.

Episode after episode of the long-running CBS series teased viewers, prompting them to keep watching because someday there would be a payoff. With so much information readily available about said ending, viewers may ultimately decide to skip the show on Netflix, when they might otherwise have given it a chance.

For BMod, I’m .

First image credit: © Minera Studio / Dollar Photo Club

Featured/Second image credit: © icsnaps / Dollar Photo Club

Stephanie Faris

Author: Stephanie Faris

Stephanie Faris is the Simon & Schuster author of two middle grade novels, 25 Roses and 30 Days of No Gossip, as well as the upcoming Piper Morgan chapter book series. A graduate of Middle Tennessee State University, she worked in information systems for 13 years. Her work is regularly featured on a wide variety of blogs and websites, both under her own name and as a ghostwriter. She lives in Nashville with her husband, Neil.

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