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The Liberating Joy of Quitting a TV Show

The Liberating Joy of Quitting a TV Show

In the binge-watching era, it’s harder to stop watching TV shows than ever: While serial plots that required viewers to watch every episode used to be considered a drawback — remember Fox’s anxiousness over “24” — it’s now a prime tool in a network’s marketing arsenal. But as cutting your ties has become harder, the resultant liberation has become sweeter: With so many shows to keep up on, crossing one off your list can set you free.

At BuzzFeed, nine staffers reveal the shows they gave up on 2014, and how good it felt to do so. (My tried-and-true method: Fall behind, realize I don’t care about catching up, put my relationship with the shop out of its misery.) Allison Willmore pulled the plug on “American Horror Story” and “The Mindy Project”; Kate Aurthur blackballed “The Blacklist”; Jace Lacob bailed on “New Girl.” For purely selfish reasons, I most enjoyed Anne Helen Petersen’s account of sending “Scandal” packing, presumably off to a house in Vermont.

I love melodrama. I love snappy, well-paced procedurals. I love powerful, no-nonsense women with beautiful white coats. I love eating popcorn and drinking goblets of wine. Which is why I loved the first few seasons of “Scandal.” The perfectly chosen score, the snappily combative cast of characters, even the sound of snapping paparazzi shutters that served as a bumper between acts — I reveled in it. I was a completist through its first three seasons, but there was something about the turn of events at the end of Season 3 — which seems, in hindsight, like a haze of interminable double-crosses and double-backs — that turned me off, like the speed of the action had reached a point of such improbable acceleration that the plot somehow felt like it was standing in place.

I didn’t quite realize I was quitting “Scandal” until the start of Season 4, when I found that I simply no longer cared who Olivia loved that week, or which parent would betray her, or how Fitz (Tony Goldwyn) would once again mistreat each and every woman in his life. I found myself switching my allegiance to “How to Get Away With Murder,” which is no more plausible than “Scandal”… but still feels like it’s going somewhere. 

For me, “Scandal” reveals the rift behind Shonda Rhimes’ OMG-driven storytelling template and the strengths of the serialized drama. The long-simmering revelations and plot twists gain force from established storylines and characters, but the need to constantly top what’s gone before has pushed the show into ever-less-plausible — and, more importantly, less effective — territory. You can only be shocked so many times. Unfortunately for my overfull DVR, “Scandal” keeps pulling me back in just when I’m ready to jump ship: The final scenes between Olivia and Roman Pope this year were as thrilling as anything the show’s ever done. I can’t quit you, “Scandal,” but I wish I could.

What shows do you wish you could quit?

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