We all have that show we wish we could stop watching. The one we’ve stuck with from the very beginning even though it’s not that great anymore, and either blind loyalty or a mistaken belief that it’s going to improve keeps us tuning in episode after episode in the hope that it will return to its former glory. The hard truth is that it inevitably won’t - and it’s best to make a decisive decision to stop watching than to drag out the suffering for possibly years to come.
I should know. I endured two terrible seasons of Dexter just to get to the series finale and now my opinion of the show is much lower than if I’d got out while the going was not so bad at the end of season six. Other shows I should have nipped in the bud: Scrubs, Prison Break and Glee.
With so many more TV options than ever, it pays to be ruthless. So how do you know when to pull the plug? Ask yourself one of these questions. If the answer is yes, it’s time to move on.
Do you spend more time during an episode looking at your second screen?
There’s nothing wrong with using your phone or tablet while watching TV. You can google that guest star and find out where you’ve seen them before, tweet your thoughts on the shock death of a character or just kill two birds with one stone and get your online shopping done while you watch NCIS. But when you pay more attention to your Facebook feed than what’s happening on screen, then maybe you may as well bite the bullet and decide that 27 seasons of The Simpsons is enough.
Are you unable to remember what happened in the previous episode – and don’t really care?
If you can’t wait to see the next episode of a series to find out who killed Laura Palmer or Lilly Kane and are keeping tabs on all the clues, it’s a good sign. When you’d be lost without the “previously on…” segment at the start of a new episode, it’s probably an indication that you’re not that invested. If continuing plot arcs aren’t leaving you wanting more then perhaps you don’t actually care who Lady Mary (Michelle Dockery) ends up with on Downton Abbey.
Is the show past its fifth season?
It’s the rare show that warrants six or more seasons. Some comedies skate by on the sense of comfort a viewer feels in seeing their TV Friends and (Modern) Family each week, but the laughs don’t come as frequently as they used to. There’s a lot to be said for keeping the lifespan of a series short and sweet. The British have known this for decades. The Americans… well, cable channels are coming around to the idea, even if network procedurals continue to persist well past their used by date. If you’re watching a show in its seventh or eighth year, there’s nothing wrong with saying goodbye when you’ve had enough, not when the producers think you have.
Has the series creator been ousted?
When did Community start to suck? Around the time creator Dan Harmon was sacked. And what happened when Aaron Sorkin left The West Wing after a falling out with production company Warner Bros? We got the first season of the show not to win the Outstanding Drama Series Emmy Award. Some series are so inextricably linked to key creatives that there’s a noticeable decline in quality when those executive producers or creators move on – willingly or not. It can be worth taking note of these behind-the-scenes changes and jumping ship at the same time.
Did the TV family in question win the lottery?
It’s likely no series will repeat the mistake made by Roseanne with its bizarre season nine twist about the family’s lucky windfall (which later turned out to be a fabrication). But if something happens that changes the very nature of the show you enjoy, it might be a good time to get out. See also: Felicity, Smallville.
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