I’m developing a theory about certain television shows and their eventual ratings drops. Obviously this won’t apply to all shows (they all have their own reasons for eventually going south), but in particular, I think I’ve now seen the same thing happen on “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “Stargate SG-1”.
Which is to say, at some point they each stopped being the escape-from-real-life that we were used to them being.
For Buffy it happened in the, I believe, next-to-last season, when Buffy’s problems came to all-too-closely resemble our own day-to-day fears: finding a job, repairing the house, and so on. I like TV that makes us think, and I don’t need my TV to be shiny-happy (witness Galactica), but I watched Buffy to get away from those everyday fears. I didn’t watch it to be shoved face-to-face with them. And as I recall, that’s when the ratings dropped off.
Now something similar is happening with Stargate. I read recently that the ratings have dropped off this season, and I remember thinking, “well of course they have.” Don’t get me wrong, I think the writing is still gorgeous, the directing and acting are top-notch, and the stories are amazing. However, the show has become depressing in an all-too-real-world kind of way. The big bad guys are overwhelmingly powerful, provoking a feeling of helplessness that hits a little too close to home these days. In short, while the writing is still sharp and the storylines are still fascinating, the show now reminds us just a little too strongly of the things we tune into it to get away from.