Feb 29, 2012  •  In Entertainment, Personal

“Why do we continue to watch this?”

Being the parents of two young girls, J and I have very little time to watch TV. So when we do get the time to catch up on our favorite shows, it is not uncommon for one of us to ask the other, “Why do we continue to watch this show again?”

Let me explain. Say that you started watching a television series. Say that you fell in love with its storyline, its characters, and the way that it makes you feel.

But after a few seasons, that show starts to lose its luster. The jokes become repetitive. The characters become clichéd and annoying. And worse still, the story begins to suffer.

In other words, the show has hit its prime long ago, and it’s been on a downward spiral since. In all likelihood, it should have been cancelled a season or two ago, but the network continues to air it because of people like us —

The people who continue to watch only because we’ve already invested so much into it.

In our household, the top three (currently running) shows that fit this criteria are:

How I Met Your Mother. Perhaps the worst offender of them all. CBS needs to realize that the show can continue even after Ted meets his future wife. (Think: courtship, engagement, wedding, kids!) Just let us find out who the mother is, already!

House. Granted, they are currently running the last season. But we feel that the show lost its magic after Cameron left.

The Office. Most fans say that the show should have ended with Michael’s departure. I say it should have ended after Jim & Pam got married.

On the flipside, there also exist shows that have been running for many seasons but still manage to keep us eagerly tuning in every week, consistently delighting and surprising us while maintaining its integrity. My top three runners in this category are:

Fringe. This fourth season has been the best yet!

Bones. This isn’t a great show, so I don’t know why I like it so much. The entire Booth & Brennan baby story has been a great turn of events.

Grey’s Anatomy. Sure, it has its moments. But you can’t deny that this is one show that is constantly filled with stimulating drama. (J would like to me point out that he does not watch “that horny doctors show.” This is solely my guilty pleasure. ;-) )

Do you also have shows that you can’t seem to stop watching although it’s grown stale? What about those that consistently keep you entertained season after season?

On a related note, everyone seems to be talking about Downton Abbey these days. Is it really that good?

26 Responses to ““Why do we continue to watch this?””

  1. Kathy:

    If you like period pieces at all, Downton Abbey is really THAT good.

    • Marcie:

      Kathy says it best. It’s great, particularly if you like period pieces. Even if you don’t, it might be your favorite of this genre because it continues to be witty and dramatic at the same time, IMHO.

  2. We find ourselves asking the same questions about some of the shows we watched. I got to that point with Lost, but felt like I needed to watch all of the last season. The Office has it’s moments, but I think it may be coming to an end soon

  3. I agree that House has really been on a downward spiral for the last few seasons but I’m really sad to see it go! For the most part, we are really good at cutting out the shows we find ourselves not wanting to watch as much as we used to. We recently cut out Parenthood because it was getting way too soap opera-y and dramatic for us!

  4. Renée:

    Downton Abbey is awesome. Too bad it has only 6 episodes per season. But the Christmas special was a stroke of genius to keep the viewers hooked!
    I must confess I only watch HIMYM to see who the mother is (well, and Barney is still funny ofcourse), and I agree that the show can definitely continue after Ted meets her.
    We still watch Castle with pleasure, the show continues to be entertaining. Which is to be expected, because Nathan Fillion is always entertaining :)

  5. House
    Grey’s Anatomy (near the end)
    The Office

    I stopped watching all 3.

    Still going strong for me:
    Desperate Housewives
    Bones
    Castle

    :)

  6. I haven’t watched House regularly since Amber died, but my fiance still watches it faithfully. We still watch The Office, even though we’re never sure if the episode will be good or not.

    I am a strong advocate for Grey’s Anatomy because I think the show has become great again, and it is going unnoticed. Sandra Oh needs an award! And I still love Parenthood, no matter what anyone says.

    And, yes, you must give Downton Abbey a try! It is fabulous! But J might not like it. It certainly seems to strike women more than men.

  7. Ashley:

    Our list is pretty much like yours. We’re new-ish to HIMYM (we’ve only watched the last three seasons when they aired and are catching re-runs now) and we love it, but at the same time sort of over it. I don’t know if you’ve been watching the most recent episodes so I don’t want to spoil anything, but there has been so much back and forth, back and forth and I JUST WANT TO MEET THE MOTHER.

    I think House started going downhill after Amber died, honestly. Didn’t watch last season at all (was he in prison?) but we’re watching sporadically now. Once again, eh, sort of over it.

    We stopped watching The Office after Jim & Pam got married so at least we don’t have that issue. I don’t watch any of the ones on your list of shows that are still great. I do have a chronic problem where I fall in love with shows that only run one season (Flash Forward, Perfect Couples, PanAm). Oh well, when all else fails, we just keep re-watching Arrested Development and Battlestar Galactica!

  8. I still love HIMYM, but both Hubs and I feel like this has been a really, really serious season and we’re disappointed that there hasn’t been more humor, and more about Ted’s love life. (I mean, seriously, was Zoe the last girl he dated? NEW STORY LINE.)
    I like The Office, and I keep watching it because I’m invested and it still has its moments, but agree that it’s not the same without Michael Scott.

  9. catK:

    what about big bang theory?? that show keeps the laughs coming!

  10. Marcie:

    I’m a regular viewer right now of Castle, Bones, NCIS, NCIS-LA, The Voice, and Fringe – all on DVR, catching up with episodes when I need a good story (which TV is often shy on this time of year). Sometimes pat characters can be overcome with interesting stories; other times, I’m okay with single-episode story lines with a neat ending.

    I stopped watching House after he got out of rehab and things started to go darkly dramatic, etc. I still think Wilson should’ve left him because that bromance isn’t healthy for either of them!

    I couldn’t keep up with Greys during school (night classes) so I gave it up for now. Good luck discovering new and interesting tv!

  11. Sunny:

    I have to disagree, I still love How I Met Your Mother, and I gave up Grey’s anatomy several years ago, it got too over the top for me.

  12. Dayna:

    I agree with the House and HIMYM “assessment.” At this point, we watch if we are bored but if not we catch them on Hulu or on a rerun. I highly recommend Parks and Rec. It’s hands down my favorite show on TV right now.

    • Parks & Rec is currently my favorite show too! I just didn’t list it above (although I should have) because for some reason I thought it was only on its 2nd or 3rd season…now that I think about it, it’s now on its fourth, and like Fringe, having the best season yet!

  13. Mina:

    i really like that bones is able to continue (although come on! show a few new episodes!) even after bones and booth have gotten together, by focusing on equally interesting issues that happen after a couple finally gets together.

    i watch downton abbey and i do like it a lot, but i won’t raise your expectations.

  14. Di:

    How has no one else mentioned Glee yet? I say that every single time I watch it. The first season was really good and I keep coming back in hopes that it will be again, but it’s just not. And then I get annoyed with each new episode I watch.

    Totally agree on HIMYM, although I’m only watching on Netflix, so the last season I saw was the Zoe season. But it was really serious while being bizarrely juvenile/gross out in the humor (think the “she’s got it coming out both ends” part when Lily was sick).

    And I think I stopped with House after season 4 or something because it just got to be too much and too absurd.

  15. Yes, Yes, Yes! re: How I met Your Mother. The last two seasons have been lackluster at best. Apparently, they have one or two more. The past few episodes though seem to show that there is going to be a major change in the story line. I suspect that the mother will be revealed soon. She better be, or I’m not watching next season.

    I was disappointed about Flash Forward as well. I really loved John Cho & Gabrielle Union together. I haven’t watched Grey’s Anatomy since 2007. When Meredith had that dream episode in Season 3 or 4 (don’t remember which) and I hated the Izzy story line with the short dark haired guy (I forget his name). I was kinda done.

  16. Also I LOVE LOVE Big Bang Theory. The last two seasons have been hysterical. I highly recommend it. I am enjoying watching the old ones. Okay, now I think I watch too much TV. :(

  17. I feel this way about TV in general, having not watched in so long. I have lost the urge, and when I do see something I usually notice product placement, over drama, and banality that makes me wonder why I ever cared about TV. We still watch a few thing occasionally on DVD or Netflix, but usually end up doing other stuff while they’re on.

  18. I agree with you 100% about How I Met Your Mother! My hubby and I used to enjoy watching that show a lot. Like you, we’re still watching it (call it morbid curiosity), but come on already Ted…let’s meet the lady!

  19. Oh my word, I so agree with this! I understand the feeling of “Why am I still watching this?” so very well. I guess it’s so hard to really let go once you’ve become invested in a show. HIMYM is by far the biggest disappointment. I hated it at first, but my husband loved it and kept begging me to watch it with him, and eventually, I truly fell in love with it. Around season 5, the writing started waning, and it’s been incredibly downhill from there. The show is just sad now, and I haven’t watched anything in over a year. I actually stopped just short of the season 6 finale – I was like, “I’m done!” and that really was it.

    I always hope that my favorite shows don’t turn, and series like Seinfeld make me feel like that’s still possible. I think a lot of shows undervalue how important it is to go out on top (and to actually know where your show is going).

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