Last night Michelle and I finished watching Homeland on Showtime. The show had been on for eight years, but we only stumbled upon it last year when we were looking for a new show to binge. We started watching it on Hulu and when we caught up with it, in real time, we had to subscribe to Showtime to see the rest. God forbid that we would simply wait until the series was complete and they continued to stream it on Hulu. One thing that binge watching affirms is the human need for immediate gratification. If we had watched the first seven and a half seasons back-to-back whenever we wanted, we weren’t going to let a little thing like a subscription stand in our way of finishing the series. Yet, we did have to wait an entire week between episodes near the end.
Any of you who have ever invested a great deal of time into watching a series that spanned several years, whether in real time or binge watching, you will understand what I am about to say. Your first impression of how the writers decided to end the series is always negative. Endings, in the moment, rarely live up to our expectations. Notice that I said “in the moment”. Once you have some time to reflect, you realize that the ending that was chosen was truly the only way that the story could have been brought to a conclusion. Yes, there could have been different ways to handle the characters and the story-line. But when you step away from the moment and you realize that the writers were bringing something to an end, without the chance of another season or another chapter, their choices begin to make sense.
When you boil it down, your dissatisfaction with an ending has nothing to do with the writers, the story line or even the characters and has everything to do with you. You wanted the show to end differently. You wanted this character or that character to end up having this or that happen to them. You wanted a certain truth, that you felt was most essential, to be revealed. You wanted good to triumph over evil or even evil to triumph over good. You saw it going differently and this perspective of personal preference is what you find so disappointing when it comes to the endings of shows that you have invested your time into watching. Yet, when you separate yourself for a little while from the ending, you begin to realize that what the writers wrote, how the show ended and what happened to the characters was perfect. Not perfect meaning no mistakes, but perfect in light of the totality of the story and the dynamics of the characters.
Isn’t this the same reason that many of us struggle with God? It isn’t that we don’t believe that there could be a higher power out there, somewhere. It isn’t that we don’t believe that our world, our reality could have been created by an intelligent being. Our struggle with God is that our perspective of personal preference causes us to be disappointed in the choices that God has made. We struggle with pandemics, cancer, domestic violence, animal abuse, global warming and the like. We believe that if we were the writers we would come up with better endings. Yet, just like Homeland, Game of Thrones, The Sopranos, Seinfeld, MASH and countless other series finales, when we step away from the intensity of the moment and we are totally honest with ourselves, we realize that the writers got it right.