Sherlock. Once Upon a Time. Bates Motel.
In the winter of 2013, I found a renewed faith in TV thanks to the recommendation (or, rather, the persistant insistance) of a good friend. As luck would have it, it would appear that all three of these shows are coming to an end at around the same time. I wanted to pay tribute to them for making me appreciate the television medium.
Growing up, I was a reality show junkie. Be it Survivor, The Apprentice, The Amazing Race, or American Idol, my family and I watched all of the major network game shows in their prime. As for scripted television, we watched one show: The Office. It was our favorite, and we absolutely had to tune in every week. Personally, I only watched three shows on my own: Pushing Daisies, which was swiftly cancelled after two seasons, Ghost Whisperer, which had a long life but whose final season’s quality caused me to abandon it, and Glee, which…yeah. Two seasons, and I was out.
I had all but given up on TV post-The Office. My shows were tiresome or gone, and the reality shows were reliable mindless after-dinner entertainment, but nothing more. Little did I know that after a few years of ignoring television altogether did the medium hit the start of its still-flourishing renaissance.
I would not have discovered this had it not been for my aforementioned friend. Upon learning that I had access to Netflix and HBO, she gave me four shows to watch: Sherlock, Once Upon a Time, The Walking Dead, and Game of Thrones. It took me awhile to get on board with the latter two, as I heard that The Walking Dead was “gross,” and Game of Thrones was “gross and with a ton of boobs.” (For the record, while both of those analyses are perfectly accurate, they certainly don’t do these shows justice).
So I started simple…or so I thought. My plan was to binge BBC’s Sherlock, ABC’s Once Upon a Time, and A&E’s Bates Motel concurrently. Bates Motel was a show of my own interest, as Freddie Highmore grew up alongside my generation starting off as a child actor and now taking on the classic role of Norman Bates in a prequel spinoff to one of my favorite Hitchcock films, Psycho (Hitchcock, 1960).
Once Upon a Time was intriguing to me because it reminded me of stories I would devise playing with dolls and toys as a child: It placed all of these classic fairy tale characters in a single setting and blended their lives and relationships. I knew I would have loved it at a young age, but I was still intrigued as an adult watching the plot unfold. Only a few months later, I found myself quite suddenly at the red carpet of the next season on Hollywood Boulevard with a few new friends.
I sense, like so many others, that the show will soon be coming to an end. Now in its sixth season, it has yet to be renewed for a seventh. This is a bad sign, especially since we’re already into the second half of the season and the news of its renewal has yet to surface. The show’s star Jennifer Morrison has a contract that is also up for renewal, and she too is uncertain of her fate at this point. I project that this will be Once Upon a Time‘s final season, and although I personally think that it is high time, as the show has recently decreased in quality significantly, I will be very sad to see it go.
WARNING. The following paragraph about Bates Motel reveals spoilers from Season 4. Skip the paragraph if you are not caught up.
I’m fairly certain that I had the insane fortunate to hear the very first utterance of Bates Motel‘s plans to end in person. In April 2015, a panel on Women in Television at Chapman University featured producer Kerry Ehrin. While there, she casually let it slip that “Bates will only have five seasons,” and that she was eager to move forward with other projects. Shortly afterwards did the news go wide that, at the time, Bates Motel only had two seasons left. That time has now arrived, and all the chips are falling into place for the show to create its own incarnation of the Psycho storyline. Norma has died, Rihanna will be taking on the legendary role of Marion Crane, and Norman is as creepy as ever.
This show put me in turmoil: It was like someone had an idea for a drug smuggling drama and someone else had the idea for a Psycho prequel series, and on their way to their pitch meetings, they both were trapped in an elevator together and decided to blend their shows. Despite it’s unique structure, it never ceases to surprise me. Plus, Vera Farmiga and Freddie Highmore are incredible as the infamous mother-son duo. This was the role that made me
fall madly in love with respect Highmore enough to place him amongst my “league” of favorite actors. Plus, the upcoming season’s most recent promo had me shrieking in my apartment just last week.
Once again, while this show isn’t perfect, I certainly will miss the motel, the mansion, Norma and Norman. And I certainly can’t wait to watch this show go out with a bang in mid-April!
Now here comes the hardest goodbye, although, like Once Upon a Time, it remains unconfirmed. I fell utterly in love with Sherlock upon binging the first two seasons and then immediately watching the third live. Much like Bates Motel, this show made me adore the show’s lead performer Benedict Cumberbatch, and he too is now one of my favorite actors.
This show is flawless. I’m not sure we’re ever going to see a show again so perfectly cast and so expertly written. Cumberbatch and Freeman are Sherlock and Watson, and their chemistry is electric. The writing by Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat not only maintains the integrity of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s original stories, but also has modernized it and adapted it so that we as the audience get an inside look at Sherlock’s deductive, amazing mind.
I won’t spoil anything from tonight’s episode, but I will confirm what the cast and crew have been saying: the Season 4 finale ended in a way that felt more like a series finale. Sherlock has always been a unique show in that a new season is never promised. Gatiss and Moffat work quietly and around the ever-increasing work schedules of Cumberbatch and Freeman, making fans wait years for a continuation of the show with but three episodes at a time. Once again, a Season 5 is not promised, and I don’t think there will be one. Not after tonight.
So I cried when it hit me. The shows that made me love television again are ending. Since them, I have watched so much more: The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, Parks and Recreation, 30 Rock, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Downton Abbey, Daredevil, Luke Cage, Jessica Jones, The Crown, Westworld, Friends, How I Met Your Mother, House of Cards, Stranger Things, Bob’s Burgers, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, and most recently, A Series of Unfortunate Events. It wouldn’t have happened were it not for these three disparagingly different shows, all (most likely) ending only weeks apart.
I got to have three years with them. And, as they say, “all good things must come to an end.” And there will be many more amazing shows to come in this “Golden Age of Television,” but I just wanted to take a moment to thank the shows that made a difference to me.
All gifs from giphy.