by Chris Harnick | Fri., Sep. 8, 2017 9:00 AM
Veep is ending. And that's a great thing.
Don't take that as a slight against the HBO comedy, Veep has been one of the funniest shows on TV for the last six years with Julia Louis-Dreyfus turning in one hell of a performance as Selina Meyer—a performance that has gotten her five Emmys.
"It became clear that this season should be the last season," Louis-Dreyfus told The Hollywood Reporter. "We don't want to repeat ourselves or wear out our welcome. The story has a finality to it that feels end-of-series."
As the show aged, the cracks have shown. Season six was uneven, still funny, but not its best. It's a good thing Veep is ending and more shows should follow suit.
By having an end date in place, it will save a show from "jumping the shark" and keep the quality at levels fans have come to expect. There won't be any messy cast contract renegotiations or dip in quality when new writers and showrunners are brought into the fold. How many more times can Selina run for president? More shows should follow suit and networks should let them, like Crazy Ex-Girlfriend and The CW.
Crazy Ex-Girlfriend co-creator and star Rachel Bloom has said her series will be four seasons.
"It's four at most. It's a series that lives in being finite," Bloom told E! News ahead of season two. "It's because [co-creator Aline Brosh McKenna] is a screenwriter. She was like, 'I just want to map out the whole series.' We spent months just marinating the characters and really mapping it out. Our ratings aren't amazing, so I don't think CW would be like, 'Please give us 10 seasons!' It works to our advantage in that sense."
Perhaps the Crazy Ex-Girlfriend duo's planning is why the CW series has remained consistent (well, really gotten better) over its two seasons on the air? When shows tread water, it shows.
Stranger Things creators Matt and Ross Duffer recently revealed they planned to have their hit Netflix series wrap up after four seasons as well.
"We're thinking it will be a four-season thing and then out," Ross told Vulture about their plans to end Stranger Things.
"I don't know if we can justify something bad happening to them once a year," Matt said about their series.
Letting the creative vision play out is best for beloved shows. Planning is a showrunner's (and audience member's) best friend. Does anybody want to be involved in a show that becomes, "Well, it used to be good, but after season five…"? Nobody wants to be The Office. So sorry The Office, love you forever, but we can be honest.
Giving a show a victory lap to end on its own terms can also breathe new life into an aging series.
Look at 30 Rock's seventh and final season—it was one of the show's best. The story can end in a satisfying way (if done right, looking at you The Good Wife, we get what you were trying to do by making Alicia turn into everything she hated, but don't love the execution of the series finale), like 30 Rock's immensely satisfying series finale. Liz got her family, Jack got what he always wanted and Jenna sang a strangely emotional Rural Juror song that barely had any lyrics. "These were the best days of my flerm."
However, ending a show in 2017 presents new challenges thanks to TV's revival fever. Look at what's happening to Will & Grace and Roseanne. Both shows had very finite endings. Roseanne's finale revealed Dan (John Goodman) didn't have an affair, he died, and Roseanne Conner (Roseanne Barr) fictionalized pretty much the entire series. Will & Grace jumped ahead in time, the characters got their happy endings, but that's about to change.
"I'm going to say that that was more or less a fantasy. It was a projection, that last episode, into the future, and I also think that one of the things when we thought about bringing this back was what was it that we missed," Will & Grace co-creator David Kohan said at the 2017 TCA summer press tour. "And I think what we missed was the dynamic between the four of them more than we missed the possibility of seeing what their lives would be like as parents and as —"
"We never would have gone in that direction if we weren't ending the show. You never find yourself in this situation," co-creator Max Mutchnick added. "We all came together again because we were friends, and we worked on something that we believed in at that time, and Bob gave us a call and said, "Would you like to come back?' So it's at that time that you have to take a hard look at the work creatively and decide what is the thing that was best about the show? What is the thing that made the show work? And that, really, was always and will always be, the lighting in the bottle that's sitting next to me."
Shows like Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life, The X-Files, Will & Grace, Roseanne and TV's other revivals have changed the finale game—hopefully just for now.
"One of the things it does is keep you from killing off a lot of characters," Teen Wolf's Jeff Davis told EW about wrapping up his MTV series. "So the series-ending episode where you blow up the entire world and kill off half your main characters isn't the smartest thing to do anymore…I do worry that it makes finales less impactful — you don't want to give a half-assed ending. You want a story to feel like it finishes."
A real ending, but saying goodbye without risks?
"You might not see endings like [The Sopranos] for a while in this age of revivals," Davis said. "You might not see creatives making daring decisions like that. What we might be doing is playing it a little safe, and if we play it safe…your ending doesn't feel like an ending."
Don't be afraid to have a finite ending, Veep.
The bottom line is for showrunners to trust their gut and for networks to trust their showrunners and stars, not the bottom dollar.
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