Friday, May 20, 2011

Notes on Pop Culture/Politics: Season Finales, No-Win Pols' Wives & NY Mag on TV

Season Finales: The Good, The Bad

I always say that there’s too much pressure for TV shows' season finales to be homeruns all of the time. But part of that pressure is the result of the networks amping up viewers' expectations for some major razzle and dazzle. We set ourselves up to be wowed. And when that doesn't happen and our high expectations are dashed, we wind up disappointed.

The season finale of Grey’s Anatomy, which I reviewed on CliqueClack TV is a good example of this.

Image credit: ABC

The ABC drama has had a wonderful seventh season. Seriously. I've enjoyed it. However I wasn’t a big fan of the finale, because it seemed kind of flat (except for the Cristina and Owen storyline) and because I felt as though Derek’s character slipped back into old habits that I thought he'd put behind him, namely acting like a pompous jerk who’s above everyone, specifically Meredith. (The fact that he couldn’t just appreciate or acknowledge the fact that what Meredith did was rooted in love and her fiercely protective nature, peeved me to no end. Be angry, sure, but don’t take your ball and go home to sanctimoniously sulk.)

The Desperate Housewives finale was just blah, as was, frankly, most of the season which took camp to a subterranean level. So there was another murder and another cover-up on America's most dangerous street. There was another highly strung romantic relationship for Bree. Lynette and Tom were fighting again, albeit more seriously this time. (*yawn*) As much as I used to love this show, I think it's more than past time for it to take a bow.
One season finale that stood out and thoroughly entertained me from start to finish was The Good Wife's where Alicia not only triumphed in the court but, in the end, gave herself a little present in the form of one Will Gardner in a $7,800 a night presidential suite. (Technically, it was Will's credit card that gave them the gift of time alone together, but Alicia finally allowed herself to revel in this pleasure instead of being a stoic martyr.) The Good Wife's sophomore season was strong and the episodes leading up to the finale were fantastic and eagerly anticipated. As for the finale, it was well executed, stylistic and fun, the way I wish more finales would be.

Do you have a favorite season finale? A least favorite?

Politicians’ Wives: They Can’t Be ‘Winning’

Speaking of The Good Wife . . . people can’t seem to get enough of using that term not only in reference to Maria Shriver and the ongoing horrors that are being revealed about her husband’s outrageous infidelities, but are also applying the phrase to the wives of the presidential candidates. (Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachman’s husbands aren’t getting as much coverage as the wives of potential presidential candidates are.)

In a Newsweek cover story, which seemed to pity and ridicule the wives of high powered pols, a campaign strategist observed, “We have achieved this odd place in American politics where the wife is no longer there just to support her husband. She has to be a full-fledged part of the campaign.”

What does being a “full-fledged part of the campaign” look like? Cindy McCain, wife of 2008 GOP presidential nominee John McCain explained in an accompanying essay: “Everything you do is criticized – your clothes are ugly; you’re not doing enough; your politics are questioned. It gets mean. I could not wait to get out of the job. The demands are significant and they are endless.”

I delved into what this unfortunate, hostile media climate means for women in my weekly pop culture column.

New York Magazine Takes on TV

It’s worth taking the time to go through New York Magazine’s big television-themed issue. From interviews with showrunners – including Shonda Rhimes of Grey’s Anatomy and Robert and Michelle King of The Good Wife -- who make some intriguing proposals for network TV (like 13-episode blocks with breaks in between instead of 22 episodes), to a quirky interview with Parks and Recreation’s Amy Poehler on her favorite TV characters and shows, the package is a good read.

Image credits: Randy Holmes/ABC, Newsweek, New York Magazine.

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