Now Ya See ‘Em, Now Ya Don’t

I don’t pretend to be a TV purist. I like some of the trashiest stuff imaginable and I’ll fully admit to that. Still, it feels like a little consistency isn’t too much to ask. I mean, from show creators it is (sorry Ryan Murphy) but by and large, not askin’ for the moon here. That’s why it always gets to me when a character just up and disappears.

Now, sure Ryan Murphy is guilty of this crime, but he honestly wasn’t even the guy I was thinking about. Anyone who knows me knows that I love just about all creations Aaron Sorkin and I would never dream of defaming him. Still, sometimes his character send-offs leave something to be desired. For instance, anyone remember Mandy, Moira Kelly’s character in season one of The West Wing? I say specifically season one because, even though her storyline was still going strong, come the season two premiere, she’s nowhere to be found.

It’s times like these I can’t help but think of Jason Reitman’s 2004 movie (you know, the one Jason Reitman movie I actually like) Thank You for Smoking. In it, Rob Lowe is supposed to be a caricature of the Hollywood exec. When presented with a problem, he simply says to write a line of dialogue to explain the problem away. It’s cheap and it’s shoddy film making, but hey, it’s what many folks end up doing.

I always laugh at that moment in the film because I can name at least three instances where I wish the creator would just do that already. The disappearance of Mandy was never too troubling for me. She nagged and was no good for Josh anyway, but I still can’t say I entirely welcome her disappearance. Sure, I didn’t want her to stick around, but at least give her a send-off episode. Hell, not even that, but at least a line. Instead, they just pretend it never happened. It’s kind of troubling, but that’s the reality of it.

So my point (if I even have one) is this. You want people to get emotionally involved in these characters? Then treat these characters with the same respect you would your audience. Just give it a damn quick fix, anything besides the random disappearance. I understand that this can’t always be done, but to me, that casual disinterest in your own characters is a pretty bad sign for what audiences have in store.


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