While “Scandal” has never failed to provide Shondaland fans with shocking twists and fabulous coats, the plotting of ABC’s political drama has seemed to lack momentum lately. While an election plotline that stretched out over Seasons 5 and 6 did give the show a bit more energy, the show has lacked the focus which made it great in its earlier years.
That’s why “Scandal” fans should consider it good news that TVLine is reporting the show will end with Season 7, a decision apparently made by creator Shonda Rhimes. As we’ve seen in the past, having a clear sense of when a show is ending (as opposed to an abrupt cancelation) means those involved can ensure things properly. Below are just a few examples of series that benefitted from knowing that the end was nigh — and went out with a bang.
Granted, Joss Whedon and the writing staff of “Dollhouse” didn’t find out until partway through the production of Season 2 that Fox would not be ordering a Season 3 of the odd sci-fi drama. However, once they did find out, they took the opportunity to quite literally burn that mother-effer to the ground, and taking the audience on one hell of a ride in the process. The story of brainwashed “dolls” who could be reprogrammed for any purpose by a rich and powerful corporation ended up setting off the apocalypse, and that was only the beginning of the end.
While “Girls” was never a show that featured much in the way of plot — a fact openly acknowledged by its creators — it did have just enough story to power along for four seasons with no end in sight. However, just before the premiere of Season 5, HBO revealed that Season 6 would be the last, and that final season proved to be a real gift, with many of its characters getting final moments which truly celebrated them as individuals, perhaps the ultimate bottle episode and the ending for Hannah (Lena Dunham) that Dunham and showrunner Jenni Konner had wanted from the beginning.
When showrunners Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse made their famous 2007 deal with ABC for three, and only three, more seasons of the Emmy-winning drama, the Season 3 finale had yet to air. So no one knew about the major reveal of “Through the Looking Glass” — and the introduction of flashforwards, which would drive the rest of the series. These choices revitalized the show and helped drive it to a new conclusion. Controversy reigns over whether three seasons was too many (even Lindelof thinks so) but the overall plotting of the show dramatically improved from Seasons 2 and 3, and whether or not you like the way the show ended, it was definitely the ending they had planned.
“The Leftovers” (2014-2017)
Speaking of Damon Lindelof, the creator has talked openly about the lessons he learned from “Lost” and how they factored into the decision to end “The Leftovers” with Season 3. As he explained to IndieWire’s Ben Travers last year:
Every time that I’m watching a show that I love and I watch the last episode but I didn’t know I was watching the last episode, I end up feeling… not necessarily betrayed, but like the rug’s been pulled out from under me. I didn’t get to emotionally process it the way that I wanted to. When you know that a show’s going to end, however, there’s this added expectation from the audience of, “This has got to be an amazing death.”
While critics haven’t gotten to see the series finale of his and Tom Perotta’s forever compelling drama, many would agree that the show is operating at the very height of its creative powers in Season 3. An “amazing death” seems like a likely outcome.
“Parks and Recreation” (2009-2015)
It was executive producer Mike Schur who tweeted the news that the NBC comedy would end with its seventh season:
We felt it was time to bring #ParksandRec to a close. NBC has been nothing but supportive. A happy network TV story.
— Ken Tremendous (@KenTremendous) May 11, 2014
And that choice — along with an intriguing time jump forward for our favorite past and present Parks employees — gave Season 7 a special quality that built up to an emotional, heartfelt and hilarious series finale. “Parks” was never bad, but knowing that Season 7 was the last let the series look to the future on a new level (a future that honestly looks pretty good right now).
The Comedy Central series, featuring Forrest McNeill’s (Andy Daly) reviews of life experiences, was a nihilist comedy gem, impossible to Google and rich with unforgettably hilarious moments. But “how much more suffering can Forrest take?” was a question that we couldn’t quite escape, and so the abbreviated third season of three episodes actually proved to be perfect in its length, telling just enough story to wrap things up, all while ending on the perfect existentialist note. Four stars.