February has given us two series finales that show us the best and worst television has to offer. There was Two and a Half Men which I think everyone can agree went on way too long. Seriously, why did this go on so long? Also, maybe I needed to watch the show the entire way through but Charlie is kidnapped but his death was faked and then a piano was dropped on his head. How was any of this funny? Everything about it seemed forced, poorly written and the animated parts (yes, there were animated parts) were also strange. There was also a scene where they had animated Charlie Sheen snorting cocaine or sugar or whatever….I’ve blacked it out. The whole thing felt rather mean and extremely tasteless and I’m a little shocked that there was no infamous “Sheen Ranting” after the episode. There was also a feeling that these actors could not wait to be finished with this show or with each other.
On the opposite end, you had Parks and Recreation which was wonderful and sweet and you could tell the actors truly loved each other off camera as much as they did on. It involved jumping forward time and seeing how the lives of these characters evolved. We saw their lives play out. There were some very funny moments and some sweet moments as well and in the end each character got the happiness they wanted. April even had kids…..on Halloween. Leslie became governor. It was just a nice way to end a show that never quite got the credit it deserved.
So in honor of the best (Parks and Rec) and the worst (Two and a Half Men), let’s take a look back at some of the best and worst season finales according to me and my very scientific poll of me…..and I’m right because I am.
1. How I Met Your Mother
Parks and Rec did the time jump perfectly well. They even added advancements in technology. How I Met Your Mother did not do this well. The entire series was based on a story about a guy telling his kids HOW HE MET HIS WIFE WHO WAS THEIR MOTHER!!! Given the ending where Robin and Barney divorce and then they kill off the mother whom we’ve barely gotten to know and then….they, oh boy! So much anger. They really should have renamed the show, “Yeah, this is how your mother was really not the love of my life and I’m so happy she’s dead so I can go hook up with the true love of my life: Robin”….but I don’t think it would have lasted as long. It was such a letdown and made me sad and angry and just….it was just so bad. So, so bad.
Oh, the build up to this was extraordinary. It aired during my finals week of college and I didn’t watch television the whole week just so I could study. That’s a big deal and that was my reward? It was overstuffed with characters I didn’t even remember and they end up in jail….I expected so much more. I didn’t understand the plot, it was all so bizarre and it turned this fantastic show about nothing into something that just wasn’t good. I want a refund. I ordered pizza that night, probably…..I want a refund.
Are you kidding me? Seriously…..no really, are you joking? He ends up as a lumberjack? So much was wrong and they could have done so much with that character. Have him get caught, have him end up on the table….the ending made no sense and left me completely bewildered, shocked and not happy. I want a refund for that too!
4. Mad About You
Once again, they did time jumping and once again I was mad. I was mad at you, not about you. See what I did there? The show is about the trials and tribulations of a married couple. It follows their ups and their downs and all the struggles that go with relationships. Yes, Jamie got progressively meaner and Paul got wimpier, but we still enjoyed them. Then their daughter, Mabel, grows up to be kinda whiny and Paul and Jamie are divorced. Divorced? Really? Okay, shows need to stick with the titles they gave themselves. You don’t expect Paul and Jamie to be divorced in a show called, Mad About You.
5. Gilmore Girls
It makes me sad that I consider this to be the worst finale although I guess it wasn’t a series finale because it was canceled. Even Lauren Graham has said that she got a call that they were canceled in a restaurant and she thought it was not a good way to say goodbye and she’s right. Rory went off to go work on the Obama Campaign (this was 2007) which I didn’t love because while I do feel Obama is awesome….by giving a name of a real person who she would be supporting or working for, don’t they run the risk of alienating half of the audience who might not be supporting Obama? It seems risky. I wish they had another shot to say goodbye. This show deserved it. Although, I did love the moment where Lorelei’s parents finally acknowledged the life she had built for herself in Stars Hollow.
On the Fence
I liked this finale for that last scene where the group we’ve followed is sitting on the steps, smoking pot as the snow falls down. Nancy is sitting the middle surrounded the by four men who played such integral parts in her journey. It was symbolism at it’s finest. It has been voted one of the worst in polls and stuff, but that scene kind of explained the whole show. Nancy would always be protected by those four, connected whether she (or they) liked it or not.
2. The Sopranos
I get why people hate this ending. That jarring last scene where it just cuts out. I think it’s kind of brilliant. As a snooty former film major, I adore the symbolism because it’s good and makes people happy. Here’s why it’s brilliant. The whole show is told through Tony Soprano’s view so if he dies, there’s no story. They killed him off so the show ended. So cool. We aren’t supposed to get the answer, we aren’t supposed to see the aftermath because Tony Soprano has no more story left to tell…..’cause he’s dead. Bada bing!
Were there flaws in this finale? Of course. Jokes about things being wrong with a plane will never be funny even if you use funny words and Rachel basically committing career suicide for an unhealthy relationship….not the best but it gave fans what they wanted. It was sweet and the final moments were it was just the six of them and the twins were fantastic and the fact that you knew these actors truly loved each other off screen, made it more fantastic. Also, please take note How I Met Your Mother and Mad About You, it was called Friends so they remained friends. They didn’t all become enemies and hate each other because that’s not the show. They remained loyal to what the show was about. Ross and Rachel had to get together. Monica and Chandler got their kids and everything was good and they left to have coffee. It was how a finale should be.
2. The Office
Pam and Jim are finally back in love with each other, having survived their marriage troubles which I didn’t love that storyline although it was sweet when Jim put together the video of how long and how deep his love for Pam was and her final sacrifice was amazing. Steve Carrell makes an appearance and has the best joke ever. The “documentary” finally airs. We get reactions and once again, we watch these people whom we’ve all come to adore simply move on. Pam and Jim move to Austin, Dwight now runs Dundler Mifflin and we know that there’s a connection. Yes, finales do have some sadness attached but they still always be sweet.
We knew Zeek was going to be the one to pass on but that did not make it easier. This time jump though was a perfect way to show the circle of life. to see how things move forward and move on. We watched this fictional family depend on each other through the best and worst moments of their lives and we kept watching it cycle towards the end. The show has always, at it’s core, been about the cycle of a family and how keeps going and that’s what it did. Perfectly.
4. 30 Rock
Two and Half Men should have taken note. This is how you do a finale and kinda make fun of yourself at the same time. Kenneth is now running the network and has a very strict list of “no-no words” which included “shows about shows”, “women”, “divorce”, Liz is married and she has a falling out with Jack. Tracy is still Tracy and the show did exactly what it was meant to do. It said goodbye in the funniest and the best way it knew how: by simply making the viewer laugh.
5. Breaking Bad
I loved this finale. This was the best way to end this show because what else could they have done to Walter White? I loved that Jesse was able to get out and granted, I was curious as to where he was going and the impact that the killing of Walter White would have on everyone else but I think not knowing is also kinda cool. Where did Jesse drive to when he drove out of the lot? What happens to Skylar and Walt Jr.? What was the fallout?
1. Mary Tyler Moore Show
That final scene where the gang is huddled together and move as one big clump towards the box of kleenex makes it simply the best. In that final episode, everyone is fired but Ted and we see the love the actors had for each other. It was a great ending and when Mary turns off the lights, it’s the end of the show. To take a line from another great finale that would air 16 years later (Cheers). they’re closed. No more stories left to tell.
2. I Love Lucy/Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour
This is a sad finale because soon after the ending of this series, Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz divorced. This show will forever remain a classic and, even though, the marriage ended off screen, they will forever be married on screen. The final episode was with Ernie Kovacs and was in 1960. Behind the scenes, there was tension. On screen, there was laughter.
Those final moments easily make this show one of the best finales in television history. When Bob Newhart wakes up next to Suzanne Pleshette who had been his wife in The Bob Newhart Show and tells her about this bizarre dream he had where he was married to a blonde and owned an inn in Vermont was clever and hysterical and instantly made it classic. It has been duplicated, most notably when Bryan Cranston filmed an “alternate” ending of Breaking Bad that had him waking up in bed next to his first TV wife (Jane Kaczmarek) from Malcolm in the Middle and telling her about his “horrible” dream as a drug kingpin…..nothing will ever match the original.