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A Mother Of A Long Story

March 31st, 2014

(the year 2030)

Kids, in September of 2005 your mother and I began watching a television comedy about a group of single twentysomethings living in New York City. No, not that one. Not that one, either. This show was kind of like those, but it owed more than a little to the British comedy Coupling and especially the sci-fi mystery Lost. Yes, the one about the island. No, I wasn’t sure what was going on there, either.

This show I’m telling you about was like Coupling and Lost in that it played with non-linear narratives, including flashbacks, flashforwards and flashsideways. It built an extensive, decades-spanning mythology of callbacks to prior (and future) episodes.

And it was also like Lost in that it was working toward a definite narrative endpoint, but because it was being produced for one of the commercial broadcast networks (remember those?), it couldn’t be certain whether it would have one year to tell its story, or five. Now, kids, the producers of Lost realized midway into their third season that this was an untenable situation, that there would be endless wheel-spinning unless they themselves declared a definitive end date.

Unfortunately for the show I’m telling you about, it became too successful and lucrative to end gracefully. And so it dragged on to nine full seasons, which was arguably at least three too many. Ironically, in its early run this show had always been on the verge of cancellation, but in its final years many of its most passionate fans began to wish it would just wrap things up already.

And now that I think of it, this show also reminded me a little of Will & Grace in that it had a breakout supporting character who was a borderline sociopath, but who became so popular with the audience that he began to redefine the show. His self-indulgent exploits went from barely tolerated to fully embraced by the other characters, and as time passed they too became broader and more selfish.

Kids, I know that you haven’t moved or shown any outward sign of interest since I began telling you this story, but I’m pretty sure that you’re wondering why your mother and I kept watching this show for every episode over nine years. Well, there were a few reasons. My affection for the characters was strong enough to carry me through even their later, lesser adventures. At its worst, it was still a pleasant enough diversion on a Monday night. Plus, my own dad had a penchant for not getting to the point. And the most important reason? I wanted to know how the story would end.

How did it end, my non-existent future children? I was just getting to that…

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