End of the Road: Looking at Recent Series Finales

[Out of courtesy, SPOILERS AHEAD]

Last Friday, Hart of Dixie aired its season finale. With its status being on the bubble for quite some time and renewal chances looking slim, it very much acted like a series finale. I mean, they did title the episode “Bluebell”, which is about as final as naming it “Hart of Dixie” or “Finale”, and even the actors’ tweets seemed to point towards it being the end. [For what it’s worth, I don’t think The CW knew what to do with the show because they didn’t have anything else like it on the network – sound familiar? *cough* Nikita *cough* – until now in Jane the Virgin. And the one week they got paired up, it was cute/crazy overload that I loved] It’s all rather unofficial, but the finale left me in tears because of how perfect it was for the show, and if it is indeed the end, it was a satisfying ending. I’ll miss the crazy Bluebell antics regardless. In light of everything, I thought it’d be a good time to look at some other series finales, all within the last two months and which also made me cry (the measure of a good finale obviously).

Parenthood was the little show that could over on NBC. It flew under the radar and had a loyal fan following. For 6 seasons, we watched the Braverman family as they celebrated the good times and struggled through the bad times. We cried tears of joy and sadness along with them, throughout all 103 episodes. It was a wonderful series that was well loved by the people who watched it, but was constantly on the bubble and never got the award recognition it deserved. The cast was also so incredibly talented – from Craig T. Nelson to Peter Krause, Lauren Graham to Mae Whitman, and all the other Braverman children, grandchildren, extending to all the guest stars. The series finale saw Sarah getting married to Hank, Joel and Julia adopting another child, Amber adjusting to life as a single mom and becoming partners with Crosby to run the Luncheonette, Adam becomes Headmaster of Chambers Academy, while Christina opens another school. Everything seemed great until we see that Zeek dies in his sleep, a plot point that had been written in the cards for the season. But the show ends on a happy note, as Zeek’s ashes get scattered on a baseball field and the remaining Bravermans honour his memory by playing a game there. It doesn’t end there though, as we get treated to a montage checking in on everybody at different points in the future. I truly loved that they didn’t do just a basic flashforward – seeing glimpses of their life in the future (and obviously only the happy/joyful moments) was actually a lot more satisfying.

Parks and Recreation was sort of the comedy equivalent of Parenthood, in the way that it was an underdog show on NBC and was loved by all those who watched it. The cast, led by the amazing Amy Poehler, were so incredible in this show and have been criminally unrecognized because they deserve all the awards. Now, the final season of Parks and Recreation had already taken us to 2017, so the finale took us even further into the future. The hour episode jumped forward to different times for each character. Donna doing well for herself as a real estate agent in Seattle and then putting some of her earnings towards an education non-profit with Joe. Tom unsuccessfully expanding the restaurant, and then finding yet another life as a motivation speaker/writer. Andy and April having kids. Gerry staying on as mayor of Pawnee until he dies on his 100th birthday. Ron ends up looking after the Pawnee National Park. As for Leslie and Ben? Well their government aspirations continued to grow, as the show hinted at Leslie possibly becoming POTUS (or at the very least, she gets to the White House). It really was a nice wrap up to the show; nothing too crazy or dramatic, but straight to the point future.

I’ll admit, I checked out of Glee a long time ago, sometime around season 4 (I may have stuck it out that entire season, but can’t recall any of it). I tuned into season 5 for “The Quarterback” and “100” for obvious reasons, but besides that I didn’t care for it. The show was so far off from what I had initially loved about it, that not even the music could save it (actually, a lot of the music choice kinda killed it for me). When the series finale rolled around, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to watch it, but everybody’s nostalgia for it pulled me in. The first episode of the two-part finale, “2009”, took us back to when the Glee Club was first formed and we saw how Rachel, Kurt, Mercedes, Tina, and Artie ended up in the Glee Club. Capped off with a re-airing of that original performance of “Don’t Stop Believin'”, it was such a heartbreaker and yes, the tears started.  The second episode, “Dreams Come True”, jumped forward to essentially show us everybody’s happy endings. In the immediate future, McKinley is turned into a performing arts school where Mr. Schuester is principal. Sam is the new teacher/coach for New Directions. Mercedes’ career skyrockets, starting with a gig as Beyonce’s opening act. When the show jumps forward to 2020, Sue is Vice President of the United States and intends on running for President. Kurt and Blaine are living a wonderful life together in New York, being an inspiration to kids. Artie and Tina are together, and his film gets into a festival. Rachel becomes a surrogate to Kurt and Blaine’s child, marries Jesse St. James, and wins a Tony. And before one last group performance featuring (almost) everyone who was ever on Glee, Sue declares that the McKinley auditorium will be renamed to honour Finn. Major tears. For a show that kind of lost itself, they certainly stuck the landing, offering a reminder of what people had initially loved about the show – that underdog spirit and the feeling that things will eventually be okay.

Not all finales end well or tug at the heart strings, but that’s neither here nor there. The point is the most successful finales should be measured by whether the show ended in a way that was right for it and acts as a cap to the series as a whole. Sometimes these shows weren’t perfect but their respective finales proved that (most of) our time spent with them weren’t a complete waste.

 

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