Every week, IndieWire asks a select handful of TV critics two questions and publishes the results on Tuesday. (The answer to the second, “What is the best show currently on TV?” can be found at the end of this post.)
This week’s question: What’s a show you enjoy (or have enjoyed more in the past) that has had a good run, but it’s high time it wrapped up and ended?
(This is inspired by the adorable “New Girl,” which kicks off its final season on Tuesday this week.)
Damian Holbrook (@damianholbrook), TV Guide Magazine
Someone please stick a screwdriver into the head of “The Walking Dead.” It’s done everything it needs to do and has been excellent at most of it. But my god, enough. And this is coming from someone who watched “Desperate Housewives,” “Glee,” “Teen Wolf,” and “Pretty Little Liars” all the way to their finales.
As admirable as Rick’s crusade to keep hope alive amid all of the sweatiness, no one has come up with an antidote, nobody has been able to create a community that’s NOT riddled with “man’s own evil” and we have pretty much run out of characters worth rooting for except for maybe the walkers who can put us out of this misery. AMC needs to stop trying to be Showtime and running their hit way past its expiration date (see: “Homeland,” “Shameless,” “Weeds,” and “Dexter”). The end of mankind is nigh. Let’s let it go with some dignity.
Daniel Fienberg (@TheFienPrint), The Hollywood Reporter
A lot of the answers here are pretty obvious and easy and I’m not going to say something awful like “Criminal Minds” because it was never good to begin with, but man it’s time for that show to end. I’m also going to try to resist the gag answer, which is probably that “Roseanne” should probably wrap it up and end. Real answers? “New Girl” probably overstayed its welcome by a season, but I’m OK with letting them sign off on their own terms. “Modern Family,” a show that was innovative and progressive when it premiered, is into its fifth or sixth season of being stale and inconsistent and probably its second or third season of being straight-up unwatchable and yet I continue to watch. “The Flash” needs to get back in touch with its early charm and reset its tone, but “Arrow” has probably lived out its usefulness at this point. “The Amazing Race” had probably exceeded its lifespan by five seasons, but it had a real comeback this past season, and now I’m confused. “The Walking Dead” is a soulless mess of characters I don’t care about and it should be put out to pasture, but I understand why AMC doesn’t care what I think on this subject. “Designated Survivor” may have been good for five minutes, but at this point ABC is only keeping it around to see if it can break some sort of record for “most showrunners cycled through.” I’ve been trying to write until I come up with a “cool” or “creative” answer, but I can’t, so let’s go with two answers, one that will get me in trouble and one that won’t: “iZombie” is a show I had a great amount of affection for, and the cast has a great chemistry you can’t force, but the attempts to shift and shake up the premise haven’t made the show better, and at this point I’m watching for the charm of Rose McIver and ignoring almost everything else. Sorry. And then “Homeland”? You’ve had a good run. Stop now before Carrie becomes a bipolar lumberjack.
Alan Sepinwall (@sepinwall), Uproxx
If I’m not picking “New Girl,” which inspired this question and has definitely reached the end of its creative lifespan, I’m not sure I have a great answer among current series. Peak TV means I no longer feel compelled to stick with shows I once loved but am now bored by (“Dexter”), or ones I’ve grown to outright dislike (“How I Met Your Mother”). If I lose patience with a show these days, it’s incredibly easy to just drop it and move onto one of the six dozen others I’ve been meaning to get to (or to watch more “ER” repeats). So I can’t speak to whether “Homeland” or “Grey’s Anatomy” or “Survivor” or some other show I was once addicted to but haven’t watched in years really needs to be put out to pasture, because in nearly every case, I already made that choice for myself.
April Neale (@aprilmac), Monsters & Critics
“Ray Donovan.” Just loved the series and felt after a great Season 4 the story had exhausted itself. And the death of Paula Malcomson’s Abby opening Season 5 just never sat well with me in the arc of the story. I also felt the series lost a bit of its magic, and squandered Katherine Moennig’s Lena and Steven Bauer’s Avi to a degree by that point as well.
But what a run it has had thus far, and the guest role casting of Ian McShane, Stacey Keach, Hank Azaria, Leland Orser, Katie Holmes, Ann-Margret, and Sherilyn Fenn over the seasons were just superb. The core cast too, Eddie Marsan broke hearts, Liev Schreiber was brilliant, and Jon Voight, probably some of the best work he has ever done and he’s won an Oscar! Hard question to answer.
Liz Shannon Miller (@lizlet), IndieWire
I’ll keep this simple: I loved writing about “The X-Files” in 2018. But, much like Gillian Anderson, after that finale, I’m good.
[Editor’s Note: It should be noted that “The X-Files” isn’t currently on the air, nor does it have plans to return at this time. That said, with a movie and two revivals that have followed up the original series’ cancellation, it’s clear that the show shall always exist in a paradoxical realm of life/death shared with Schrödinger’s cat.]
Marisa Roffman (@marisaroffman), Give Me My Remote
This feels like cheating – because most of my long-running shows have gone to TV heaven—- but the first thing that pops to mind is “Gotham.” It’s not that I necessarily *want* it to end, but it’s a show that’s building to such a specific end-point. When it ends, I want the powers that be to know it is ending and conclude the story on their terms. (My worry is they’ll find out after the series has wrapped that it’s not coming back, especially with all the uncertainty at Fox right now. I’d really like to avoid that.)
Allison Keene (@KeeneTV), Collider
There’s a reason why so few series in their later seasons end up on year-end lists, particularly when it comes to dramas. Some rare shows continue to get better and better (like “The Americans”), while others, like “Homeland,” reboot the plot often enough to keep viewers interested in where things will go next. But mostly, series eventually spiral too far out from where they started, or fall prey to the same cycle of problems over and over again. The CW superhero series almost all belong in that last camp (minus the crazy glory of “Legends of Tomorrow”), thanks in large part to 22 episodes a year and typically only one major villain to focus on, leaving the stories feeling stagnant.
“Arrow,” though – the one that started them all – has gotten stuck in a particularly bad rut (maybe not as bad as Seasons 3 and 4, but certainly close). The show bounced back to form in Season 5, which saw it return to its roots in a number of ways and introduce an extremely effective villain. And with the wrapping up of its island-set flashbacks and even returning to the island for its final Season 5 episodes, it had all the makings of a series finale. The explosion that left the fate of most of the cast in question at the close of Season 5 would have been a wonderfully haunting way to leave the series, likely becoming legendary for its boldness. But if it did have to come back after that (because the Arrowverse is so interconnected now), the nihilist in me wanted the explosion at the end of the finale to act as a reboot or a reset, one where (maybe after mixing in some timey-wimey “Flashpoint” stuff) could have let “Arrow” really becoming something fresh. Instead, it’s back to business as usual.
Todd VanDerWerff (@tvoti), Vox
This feels like a bad answer, because I believe all involved have stated they want a sixth and final season to wrap things up, but when watching the screeners HBO sent out for the fifth season of “Silicon Valley,” I found myself laughing and smiling a fair amount, but I also found myself wanting the series to find a way to push toward some sort of ending. In theory, letting the guys of Pied Piper find some success should open up rich new veins of creativity in the series; in practice, it’s mostly more jokes about Richard throwing up and “ironically” racist gags about Jian Yang. There’s still a ton to love in the series, especially when it comes to the rivalry between Dinesh and Gilfoyle, or Zach Woods’s always impeccable work as Jared. But there’s probably no better indictment of the show’s general struggle to evolve than the fact that Josh Brener (Bighead!) is still a regular cast member, even though he doesn’t appear in the first three episodes. In theory, the first season post-Erlich should have provided a rich creative opportunity. In practice, it’s been good but stagnant, which is always a good sign that it’s time to head for the exits.
Kaitlin Thomas (@thekaitling), TVGuide.com
The correct answer is probably “Supernatural”; the CW series, which was just renewed for Season 14, has been recycling the same story for years. But I find myself hesitating in the wake of an episode like “Scoobynatural.” The animated Scooby-Doo crossover reminded me just how much I enjoy “Supernatural’s” brief interludes of wild creativity. And honestly, the show’s ongoing existence isn’t hurting anyone. It’s kind of comforting to know the Winchesters are always there when I’m ready to jump back into Baby for another ride. It’s one of the few constants in my life now. But is it worth it if the show’s crazy imaginative episodes happen with less frequency than they once did? Honestly, I don’t know, and that is why my real answer to this question is “Suits.” I don’t even like Mike Ross, but I know that “Suits” without Mike Ross is unbalanced. The show hasn’t been must-see TV for me for a while, but the central bromance at its core kept me from writing it off completely. Knowing that relationship will soon be gone and that the show literally has two storylines it just repeats every year – the firm is in trouble/Donna and Harvey can’t be together for Reasons A, B, and C – means it’s time for me to just let this one go. Bye, “Suits.”
Nigel Parry/USA Network
Joyce Eng (@joyceeng61), GoldDerby
Most of Showtime can fall under this since they clearly still haven’t learned from “Dexter” Season 8. But I’ll go with one of my go-to laundry-folding show, “Suits.” Look, “Suits” isn’t towering TV, but the first couple years was fun, addictive with all the movie references I needed to half-chuckle. But it also loves recycling the same story – the firm is in danger! What ever will they do?! — and with Patrick J. Adams — the human embodiment of the whole premise – and royalty-to-be Meghan Markle leaving, Season 7 was the perfect time to hang it up (pun fully intended). Meghan Markle gave you an out! Take it! There is no reason to continue without the central couple intact — no, not Mike and Rachel, but Harvey and Mike — which is the main reason people like the show in the first place. And now we’re stuck with an eighth season and a “Doubt” reunion no one asked for.
Ben Travers (@BenTTravers), IndieWire
After seeing just how good Sandra Oh is on “Killing Eve,” I’m tempted to say it’s time for “Grey’s Anatomy” to end and let its talented ensemble discover new opportunities… but then again, many have already made their way off the long-running ABC series, one way or another. “The Affair” is the kind of show that I think would’ve benefitted greatly from a shorter overall lifespan, but I gave up before Season 3, so it’s hard for me to say it’s out of juice so much as it made some really questionable choices. Then there are a number of shows that are ending, some at the right moment (“The Americans”) and others a few years past the expiration date (“House of Cards”). “New Girl” definitely needs to end, if only to put a stop to the exhausting Nick and Jess saga, but since that’s the impetus for the question (and thus too easy of an answer), I’ll push for “American Horror Story.” Barring a creative renaissance, Ryan Murphy’s groundbreaking horror show is on its last legs and has been for a few seasons. Even when the show has tried to do something bold and different — like with the mysterious “Roanoke” and the politically charged “Cult” — they haven’t held together well, and “Hotel” was just plain awful. Its structure means hope springs eternal, so it’s hard to ever really write it off, but I think it’s clear by now that horror fans deserve better.
Q: What is the best show currently on TV?*
A: “Atlanta” (five votes)
Other contenders: “Killing Eve” and “Legion” (two votes each), “Jane the Virgin” and “Nailed It!” (one vote each)
*In the case of streaming services that release full seasons at once, only include shows that have premiered in the last month.