Dear Television Writers,
Sometimes conversations flare up around the ‘net regarding whether readers have a sense of entitlement regarding a favorite series, and what the author owes the reader. I generally keep my mouth shut. One, those conversations by their very nature pit authors against readers. Misconstruing of comments invariably ensues. And, two, as with many conversations, I don’t sit firmly on either side of the fence. I’m an author, but I’m a reader, too. Those two aspects of myself frequently disagree and, rather than appear schizophrenic, I keep my mouth shut.
But I’ve been having the writers vs. viewers thing going on my head for the last week due to several of my favorite shows. My favorite shows are much like my favorite book series (such as the Troubleshooters and the BDB)—they feature a core group of characters with a certain chemistry and that more than anything sucks me in. And no matter what else goes on, as long as that core group remains true, I’m good. But…
The Shield: They started as a group of cops doing the very wrong things for maybe right or wrong reasons. Compelling and interesting. For me the series jumped when they took the Armenian money train. That was just greed. No desperate confliction. And Vic vs. Shane pretty much killed it for me. These are not the guys I signed on for. My greatest disappointment in you writers, however, comes from your not exploring Dutch and the cat incident. It was brilliant and dark and I wanted to go there. I’m wondering if the letter-writing animal-loving crowd scared you.
The Unit: *sigh* Dudes. You gave me a group of men—bad-ass and loving and loyal and willing to die for family and country—and I fell hard. Your show not only entertained me, it moved me. Then you started adding a tad more of the domestic soap opera, but I’ve come to expect that. All the shows do it—L&O, CSI, everybody. (Although Criminal Minds has managed to keep that to a minimum.) And Hector…while my heart was broken, I was satisfied, too, because when men live their lives like that, sometimes they die. But this new storyline is stupid. I’m sorry, but it’s stupid. The video of the wives was stupid, sending the kids to granny’s was stupid, the wives on the bus is stupid, the having one enemy story arc is stupid, and a woman on the team is way stupid. You’ve broken your promise to me, and you suck.
NCIS: The bad words were flowing like boxed wine at Casa Stacey on Tuesday. What the really bad word are you people thinking? Are you drinking? Smoking something you picked from your neighbor’s secret garden? Now, I’m not so bad with the breaking up of the group and yadda yadda. To me it appears you guys wrote yourselves into a hard spot and you’re just dumping whatever to get out of it. But, one—getting closer and closer to bringing the Moonlighting curse down on all our NCIS-loving heads. Don’t do it. Just don’t. And, two—the big one—what the hell are you doing to Ziva? My Ziva is a lethal bad-ass agent who reluctantly feels affection for her fellow agents. This new Ziva? The Ziva who giggles and bats her eyelashes? I swear to Ceiling Cat she simpered in the last episode. SIMPERED! You suck and yes, I do feel betrayed. If I start ranting on TV forums and sending frothy-mouthed emails to producers, it’s totally your fault.
I have a better understanding now why some readers will totally go off on an author who’s changed up a series—because it sucks.