If you have HBO (or an internet connection), you’ve no doubt seen some of the best programming TV has ever had to offer. This isn’t a plug for HBO, because I don’t do sponsors, it’s just the goddamn truth. Okay, except for True Blood, that was a piece of shit. What has come to my attention, however, is that people seem to object when TV writers kill off their favourite characters. For some reason, you people think that you own the stories being told, and that if they don’t subscribe to your bullshit wish fulfillment fantasies, they just shouldn’t exist, or that they’re so traumatic they cause you to contemplate suicide (which, I mean, come-the-fuck-on).
So, to loosely paraphrase Neil Gaiman’s brilliant blog entry “Entitlement Issues”: TV writers are not your bitches. They don’t write for you. Art is not made specifically for your personal consumption and enjoyment. Art is first and foremost (and I mean this chronologically, too) a form of expression. If all art were made with only the audience in mind, music would continue to stultify (more than it already does), and TV would be nothing but constant iterations of Big Brother and a 24-hour Oprah channel. I don’t know if either of those actually exist, I just really hope they don’t.
So what happens when authors kill off a couple of awesome characters? Well, let’s look at the two most amazing deaths on television. No, I’m not talking about Jon Caesar, or Ned is Dead. I’m talking about Stringer fucking Bell, and Omar Little, from The Wire. In Stringer’s case, played brilliantly by British actor Idris Elba, we see possibly the best character (and best actor) on a TV show, filled with deep, rich, textured characters, get taken out in what is possibly the most realistic TV execution ever. I didn’t cry foul when Stringer was killed, I sat back and watched the spectre of his character loom over every scene for the next two whole seasons of a show that was not only better for having had him, it got better after having killed him off. Omar’s death, although it came later in the show, took everyone by surprise, but was followed almost immediately by Bunk pre-empting the audience’s shock.
Characters have their runs. They’re in a story to advance the story, not to make your privates tingle. If all you’re watching TV for is to see what you expect to see, you’re doing it wrong. And for fuck’s sake, enough with the narcissist reaction shots! – JP