…and that may not be such a bad thing for fans.
The premise of a blue collar white man driven to prostitution by the recession, perhaps not surprisingly to most, doesn’t seem to write itself like it used to in 2009 when Hung first premiered. Without speculating too much on how or when the shark was jumped by Ray Drecker (played by Thomas Jane) and his sizable penis, it has long been common wisdom that the show wasn’t ‘as good as it’s first season,’ the season with all the hype and promise and emphatic conversations with friends about what they’re missing out on. The season before dick jokes became stale. The season when a teacher as a whore sounded as fresh and entertaining as a housewife as a drug dealer, except not really.
First season hype has doomed each one of these failed HBO experiments. Bored to Death received rave reviews from the sort of critics and friends alike that make a series more unapproachable than attractive. The merit of Jason Schwartzman, Ted Danson, and Zach Galifianakis going on detective adventures throughout New York City is undeniable. The praise the show received early in its run seems to assume that there were actually people who would attempt to deny it; as if there were those that enjoyed these three guys’ style of comedy, were liberally educated, NPR listeners with Rushmore on their Netflix queues, but for some reason were on the fence about Bored to Death. The series simply wasn’t built to manufacture new viewers – the American education system and cultural polarization wouldn’t allow it. But if not for the unwieldy hype, the series may have been able to keep its unique sort of ratings points.
How to Make it in America relied on a younger more easily herded demo to thrive on the network. The buzz around this show often contained the words “new Entourage.” But that was more of a design goal than an accurate assessment. Then there was the “hipster” claim, and it became clear that the show was chasing ghosts, and would forever be too many steps behind its own constructed visage. (HBO decided it’d take more than a year to air the second season of a show reimagining the young people’s New York of last decade.)
The reason the cancellation of these shows may prove to be beneficial for their fans is simple: They get to keep the hype. Cancellation in 2012 isn’t cancellation as we’ve known in the past. These shows aren’t actually going anywhere. Three seasons of both Bored to Death and Hung and two seasons of How to Make it in America, can still provide their respective fans with a fluid and cohesive encapsulation of what they enjoyed (or thought they enjoyed), without any significant adjustments or alterations that often make a long-running show seem unfamiliar towards the end. Each show can even be scrutinized with the questions of what could’ve and should’ve been, never yielding the answers that would undoubtedly ruin the magic. Everyone now gets to digest the shows at their own pace, without ratings based-hype, but rather gravitating towards the shows that are consistent with their character. (Maybe put Bored to Death on your cue behind Twin Peaks. Maybe find a Hung torrent one bored summer.) Television is yours to keep now. So when a show with just one joke, merely the allure of familiar faces, simply a momentarily trendy look to flaunt, gets the axe, don’t worry. There’s nothing wrong with any of those things. And you still get to hold on tightly to them.