I’ve noticed a trend with my favorite shows. For the most part, they will have well-written storylines throughout the course of their run. Occasionally, like all shows, they will have misses with plots they showcase (A decade later, I’m still upset about the whole April storyline in Gilmore Girls). The biggest opportunity for all these show, however, are the storylines these shows choose to start half-heartedly and not fully execute. In all cases, the storylines are interesting and contribute to character development. Therefore, I am left scratching my head and wondering why the writers wouldn’t follow through with these stories. In the case of Gilmore Girls, they start a narrative for several years, only to take an unnatural turn not consistent with the previous build-up.
Below are storylines I wish my favorite shows had fully fleshed out in other seasons. I would love to hear you thoughts about other shows that you felt dropped the ball on some potentially great stories.
Friday Night Lights
Most people will probably forget that before Tami Taylor became principal of Dillon High and eventually Dean of Admissions at Braemore College, she was a part of Mayor Rodell’s re-election campaign. How could fans forget this major career milestone? Probably since the show didn’t devote any time to this major part of Tami’s life after the initial storyline set-up. The initial episode was in season 1. After the mayor asks Tami to be a part of her campaign, Tami and Coach Taylor disagree on whether Tami should accept. An entire episode is spent on this decision, when finally Tami boldly tells Coach Taylor that she is going to accept the position whether he likes it or not.
I personally thought this would be an interesting story to watch, seeing how Tami’s campaign involvement could causes tension at the school, with her husband, and with work/family life balance. Therefore, I was disappointed the show didn’t flesh this story out more. Perhaps the writers found other stories to flesh out more than this one. While I don’t disagree with the other storylines they chose to pursue in more depth (besides the Landry/Tyra fiasco in Season 2), I wish this storyline could have been added in somehow or mentioned periodically.
The show starts when Sarah Braverman moves back to her parents’ home with her kids and trying to get her life back in order. Throughout the first two seasons, Sarah is readjusting and trying to find a career that fits her. She first starts as a bartender, and then takes a job at Adam’s company that leverages her creative skills. The only reason she fails with this professional job is due to drama with Adam’s boss. I liked seeing her struggles and seeing her try hard to find something that fit her passions. We’ve all been there in our career paths – trying to find a job that meets our basic interests- so Sarah’s storyline is relatable and true to form. Therefore, when Sarah finally re-discovers and cultivates her passion for writing, I was thrilled to see her finally find something that made her happy and that she could develop into a career. She writes a play that she is able to get showcased –and well received- on stage. This moment was incredibly rewarding to see given all of Sarah’ struggles.
I was therefore disappointed when the writers didn’t build upon this positive turning point during the next season. The writers choose to focus on her romantic entanglements rather than allow her to grow in her writing career. It’s as if Sarah had not had this success, as we hear no mention of Sarah’s writing or the play in subsequent seasons. Rather than leveraging the writer storyline to allow Sarah to grow and instead focusing on the romantic conflicts, the writers choose to box in Sarah with the continued narrative of “one who doesn’t have her life together.” While Sarah eventually did get a career that fit her – a photography career- this turn in career direction felt a little out of place, given that the writing was a pre-established interest.
I did not like the show’s sixth and seven seasons for various reasons. One of the biggest reasons I didn’t like them is what the writers did with Lane’s storyline. For the majority of the show, Lane dedicates her life to joining a band and making it a success. To achieve her dream, Lane has to sneak around her mom’s back, as her mom has strict guidelines on what Lane can and can’t do. Lane unfortunately doesn’t have the easiest time in following her mom’s expectations while pursuing her interest. When Lane finally breaks free from her mom and is able to follow her dream, I was happy to see Lane finally be happy.
Given Lane’s hard work, I was shocked that the writers decided to essentially forget about Lane’s struggles and instead have Lane marry and have babies very quickly. Marriage and babies not only didn’t seem a natural storyline fit for Lane, but also seemed unfair to her entire storyline. She is unable to fulfill a dream that the show had fully invested in for several seasons. The writers dropped her storyline progression at the very end without any rational explanation. Lane should have gotten the happy ending like other characters got rather than putting her in a position that she didn’t want.
Parks and Recreation
April’s apathy is one of the best parts of the show (that and Ron Swanson, of course). She doesn’t care about anything and resorts to dry, sarcastic, and hysterical retorts towards those who do. Therefore, when April does actually find something to love, viewers are pleasantly shocked. In Season Four, April showcases her passion for animals when we see her work in arranging an adoption drive. Later, in season five, she becomes deputy director of animal control. April later applies for veterinary school, but ultimately decides not to go after going to the campus the first day, (in typical April fashion, is bored/disinterested in the school environment). However, she continues to support animal causes through her work at the Parks department, and doesn’t seem to actively dislike it.
Between the time jump from Season 6 and Season Seven, April joined Leslie in working at the National Park Service, and doesn’t like it. I wasn’t surprised that April didn’t like the job anymore, but I was surprised that in her trying to find something new and something that excited her, working with animals didn’t enter her mind. The episodes that showed April looking for a new career completely glossed over this prior passion. She had shown a long-term interest in earlier seasons, so it would have seemed natural for her to look for a career in this area, even if it wasn’t as a vet. I liked where April did end up eventually, but the animal interest had been incorporated into her career decisions rather than ignored.
Image source: NBC, Warner Brothers