Enough Already With The Reboots. They're Killing Television.
It was the news of Frasier coming back that broke me.
Minor spoiler warning for the endings of a few TV shows.
The future of television lies in the past. Networks are dusting off their most popular older shows and transplanting them into 2018. Terms like, reboots, revivals and ‘reimaginings’ – oh my – are thrown around a lot on a daily basis in hopes of getting fans excited that their favourite show is back.
But lately I’ve found myself drawn to the ocean where I yell ‘enough’ into the crashing waves that also double as my emotions.
In the past month we’ve learnt that MTV’s Daria will be back, Buffy the Vampire Slayer is being revived and Kelsey Grammer is getting the gang back together for more Frasier.
It’s safe now to assume that every older TV show is back. Other shows brought back from the dead that are ready to debut: Murphy Brown, Magnum P.I, Charmed, Rugrats *takes breath*, Party of Five and Roswell. Add high profile revivals like The X-Files, Will and Grace, Gilmore Girls and Queer Eye to the mix and you’d not be out of place asking, what year is it?
The madness of revivals peaked when Roseanne returned to huge ratings but was then swiftly cancelled after Rosanne Barr sent a series of racist tweets that did not jive well with her bosses at Disney. But the Roseanne revival was so popular that a Roseanne-free version has been developed called The Conners and it will pick up where Roseanne left off in mid-October.
The ocean, it calls my name!
Television networks have always been applying defibrillator paddles to old shows in hopes they have enough fans of the original to provide a foundation while they bridge the gap to a new generation of fans. Sometimes they work out great, which was the case with Twin Peaks: The Return and Battlestar Galatica.
Most of the time they come back not quite right, zombified versions where each actor is returning to finally build that backyard pool they’ve always wanted (see: The X-Files revival). But why has the news of revivals accelerated so much in the past few years?
Betting on reviving an old show is much easier than launching a new one. Television networks have been thrown into disarray by streaming disruptors like Netflix and Amazon, so they’re relying on old hits to give them new life.
But the flood of revivals is suffocating, especially when a majority of the biggest hit TV shows of the 21st century began with little-to-zero audience awareness.
Sure, a show like Game of Thrones had George R. R. Martin’s readership to generate hype but it managed to find an audience beyond people who read the books. Shows like Breaking Bad, Mad Men, Lost, 30 Rock, Black Mirror and Stranger Things arrived with little fanfare.
Even Netflix waited a few years in investing in new shows before getting into the revival game when they decided the world needed more Full House and gave us, wait for it: Fuller House.
I get it, there’s a lot of comfort in being in the company of your favourite characters from a TV show, once again, but it’s also nice to leave things be.
Do I want to see Frasier Crane rant about social media, emojis and Donald Trump? Not really. I love knowing the apartment from Friends is empty. I adore the knowledge that Coach Taylor chose Tammy Taylor’s career over his own in Friday Night Lights. I get chills thinking about Don Draper’s moment of commercial zen on Mad Men.
Revivals break our commitment to an ending. It’s okay to let sleeping TV shows lie.