As every avid television watcher knows, every fall, television networks engage their shows in a perilous game of Russian roulette that runs from September to May. The stakes are high; the winners go home with another season under their belt, and the losers go home empty handed.
Yes, I am talking about show cancellations.
The critical period for this game begins in about February and ends around May. The ratings are analyzed, viewership is sought after and cancellation orders begin rolling in.
It's a time of high anxiety, tears and possibly nail-biting terror for everyone involved, from the viewers to the actors to the producers.
A couple of notable shows have been axed already, including Terra Nova, which ran for one season and was cancelled in March, and House M.D., which ran for eight seasons and was cancelled in February.
Luckily for me, none of the shows I follow have been cancelled yet. But cancellation isn't the worst thing that could happen. In my personal opinion, having your favorite TV show cancelled sucks, but there's something even worse than that; the waiting game sucks even more.
Think back to when you were applying to college. Just imagine yourself as a high school senior again, battling senioritis and ready to get out of that hormonal hell. You're writing your personal statements at 11 p.m. the night before your application is due, and then you hit the "submit" button. And then . . . nothing.
In fact, there's nothing for the next three or so months.
You wait. And wait. And wait some more. By the time it's April, you're about ready to tear your hair out from the waiting. You just want to know where in the world you're going to be next year. Is that so much to ask?
Well, if you remember how that felt, you know what it's like when the last week of April comes around and one or more of your favorite shows haven't been renewed yet. If it's a show like Once Upon a Time, where the ratings have been generally high and solid all season, there's not as much of a reason to worry. Fans of other shows with lower ratings and viewership, though - shows like Community and Cougar Town - check Wikipedia every day, worried that their favorites will be gone with the new TV season in September.
Let me give you a few pieces of advice about TV show cancellations, or at least, share the little things that I tell myself to get through the Russian roulette-esque game of TV show life and death.
1. There are only 24 hours in the day. By which I mean that if a show is canceled, that frees up some time in your schedule to get some more homework done, or to let you study a couple more hours for that test. Or, you know, it frees up your time to start a new show that you had not had time to watch before because you were so busy trying to keep up with thirty new episodes per week . . . which leads to my next piece of advice.
2. Vintage may be better. Why not check out some older TV shows that were cancelled before you had even heard of NBC and ABC? I started watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer for the first time in October, and despite it being from the 90s, I really enjoyed it (although I had a bit of problem with my brain going BOOM when trying to compare Willow Rosenberg with Lily Aldrin from HIMYM). You might find a hidden gem, and with your regular show cancelled, there's more time to catch up on the old stuff.
3. A curse can be a blessing in disguise. Sometimes, having a show last too long turns out to be a very bad idea. The writers start running out of ideas, and they begin turning to cheap tricks and gimmicks to sustain it. Viewers start getting bored and dropping the show. Isn't it better to end the show on a high note rather than dragging it out until all the feedback the writers get are complaints?
Yes, I'll be the first to admit that sometimes, TV networks make horrible mistakes.
Just look at Fox and how, ten years later, fans are still raging about the cancellation of Firefly. But other times, after the initial disappointment, there's a light at the end of the tunnel. Losing a show opens up room for a new one.
Show cancellations keep TV shows fresh and competitive so that we only get the best (for the most part).
If you're at all like me, you can always take advantage of sales on Amazon or Barnes and Noble, buy the season DVDs and watch your favorite episodes over and over again until the disc breaks.