Recrap Wednesdays Have Jumped the Shark

Ah Wednesday nights. My favorite night of the week, not because it means the week is half over or because someone somewhere is cracking a cheap "Hump Day" joke. No, Wednesday nights hold a special place in my heart because it is the night I get to watch my stories. Every Wednesday (more or less) since moving to NYC, my friend Jaimie and I get together to watch our programs. And after a long week, nothing is better than a glass of wine and some stupid TV, whether that involves Tyra Banks, Top Chefs, or thinking one can dance merely depends on the season.

Let me digress a bit and explain. I have this bad habit of over-committing myself to things. Meaning if I start something, you better believe I'm going to see it out to its natural end. Which sounds noble, until you put it into practice. If I paid $10 to see The Happening in theaters, I'm going to stay until the bitter end, even if that means cringing through all of Mark Wahlberg's dialogue. Likewise, once I start a book, I'll be damned if I'm going to give up after 20 pages. It could get better, right? (No. No it won't.) Only recently was I able to abort a book like an unwanted pregnancy, but even that took me 700 pages! (Seriously, do not ever start reading Pillars of the Earth. Unless you enjoy 900 pages' worth of detail about the building of a castle.) But still, it's progress. The same rule applies to my TV viewership: when I commit to watching a TV show, it takes a lot to cancel my season pass.

Meg recently explained the phrase "jumped the shark" to me. I’d heard the phrase before but had never really known what it meant. According to Meg, by way of Wikipedia, jumping the shark "has been used as a metaphor to describe something that had become an unintended mockery of itself. The term arose from one of the most famous of these plots on Happy Days, which involved Fonzie performing a water ski jump over a shark in an episode aired on Sept. 20, 1977, during the show's fifth season." So basically, when a series has jumped the shark, said show has passed its peak of quality and popularity.

Being 24, and thus born in '85, obviously I wasn't around to watch Fonzie jump the shark, but recently, some of my own beloved TV shows have gone and jumped their respective sharks, giving me enough of an excuse to stop watching mid-season. Saying goodbye to these shows was hard for me to do, but if I didn’t cut the cord myself, they would be hanging out of my proverbial vagina for the rest of my life.

The Real World

When the show first started airing, I was way too young to fully grasp the show’s premise. I vaguely recall Montana and Elka smoking in a firehouse in Boston, talking about boys, or their period, or something else mind-numbing. But later seasons were all anyone talked about at school. Somehow between 1997 and 1998, I grew up enough to care about Stephen bitch-slapping Irene, even though a ho had Lyme disease. Then for about 5 seasons, I was hooked and couldn’t wait until people stopped being polite and started getting real. For me, the show jumped the shark with the Las Vegas season. Specifically one episode where Trishelle, the local syphilis factory, was at a club and was hoisted into the air, “forgetting” she failed to put on underwear. Then I realized the show stopped being about anything other than attractive people hooking up and contracting multiple diseases from each other. Maybe it's because now I'm suddenly older than half the cast members. Or maybe it's because I found out the real real world isn't chock full o' nuts and slutty alcoholics. Graduating and finding out that the real world involves paying bills and getting a job, not just having casual sex with wild abandon sort of puts a damper on watching your peers do just that.


Keeping in the reality TV show genre, I was a big fan of Survivor back in the day, before Elizabeth Hasselbeck turned into a harpie. The intrigue! The suspense! The challenges! Jeff Probst’s dimples! I’m not going to lie, my best friend junior year of high school and I bought each other authentic Survivor buffs for Christmas. That’s how into the show I was. My fascination with this show was short-lived, however. After watching the All-Stars season where the runner-up proposed to the winner on live TV, I puked into my buff, threw it out the window, and promptly put on Big Brother.

Grey’s Anatomy

Junior year of college, Grey’s was what brought a bunch of my friends together. I think we all secretly wished we could be a part of life at Seattle Grace. In those glory days, Meredith wasn’t half as whiny, Izzie was cool, in control of herself, and decidedly not crazy, Bailey was as sassy as ever, and George was just plain adorable. The show even introduced the word “vah-jay-jay” into my everyday vernacular. Then Isaiah Washington had to go drop the F word on T.R. Knight off-screen. New characters were introduced. Izzie falls in love with a patient, then inadvertently kills him to try and save his life. To that, I say “Really?! Cutting someone’s life line seems like a good idea? Really?” But no, I kept watching. Until the end of last season, when I realized that the writers/actors had gotten into this annoying habit of repeating a line for emphasis. Specifically, one episode in which Callie fixed a guy’s broken legs only for him to die on the operating table. Cut to Callie saying “I built him legs!” over and over and over and over, in varying degrees of hysterics. Good day to you.

Gossip Girl

This is what prompted Meg to tell me what jump the shark meant. The first season of the show was so good. Everyone was hooking up with everyone, there was drama, there were catfights, there was sex. What else could you need? Then season two strolls along, and things are starting to get weird. Incest comes sniffing around (Lily and Rufus dating, while Serena and Dan are also dating). Vanessa appears once too often, never failing to mention her lesbian sister’s punk band every chance she gets. And then Chuck gets involved in a secret sex club that his father belonged to? When a show starts borrowing story lines from Kubrick movies, I think it’s past its prime. What’s next? Rufus ties down Little J and forces her to watch girls wearing respectable amounts of eye makeup and skirts that go below their labia? I gave it another shot for the Season 3 premiere, but after 45 minutes of Serena’s paparazzi antics to “get her father’s attention,” I put the show on an ice floe and pushed it into the great unknown.

You may wonder why there is no City recap today, nor will there be one tomorrow. Frankly, I just can’t do it anymore. One season of complete inanity was plenty for me. I could recap the whole season for you right now in two sentences: Whitney and Roxy butt heads. Olivia is just a bitch. There, I saved you countless hours of stock footage, plugged music, and forced dialogue. Why The City jumped the shark: does any believe Roxy and Whitney really go way back? I didn’t think so.

Does giving up on The City make me a bad person? I don’t think so. Hating nerds makes me a bad person. Punching babies makes me a bad person. But not watching Whitney get pushed around on a day-to-day basis, or any of the above past-their-prime TV shows is just me preserving my sanity.


2b1b: The sardonic voice of 20-somethings everywhere, Monday through Friday. said...

Ok, so this has nothing to do with anything and is probably only going to be funny to me (awesome!) but this post reminded me that my freshman year, my roommate Rachel (not the Rachel who frequently comments)and I named our trashcan "Trishelle The Trashcan" and it was sort of magical.

"Meg, can you empty Trishelle? She's sort of overflowing."

We also exclusively referred to one of the cabinets as "The Technology Cabinet" because I think at one point it held an extension cord. But never held any technology ever again. I think we kept cleaning supplies there. Yep. Only funny to me.

L said...

I totes agree with you. I have given up on The City/Hills after episode 1. The only show that you listed that I'm still devoted to is Grays....and I can't even give you a good reason why. It's like that one guy you dated that you keep around because it's comfortable and you hope that there's a steamy hospital sex scene coming up soon. Maybe I'll let Grays go for good after this season...but I'm a sucker for a good McDreamy/Meredith elevator moment...

leminx said...

Las Vegas RW was my favs, it was just so deliciously skanky... but I was also, what, 17?... I needed the scandals and the sandals! But after that, during that damn Paris season, I may or may not have passed out from boredom and hence the quasi-love affair with RW came to a screeching halt.

But word, thank you for bringing me a scoop of nostalgia!

leminx said...

oh and PS: Meredith Grey Makes me want to scratch out my eyes and take a saw to my tv. waahh wahhh wahhhh.

Unknown said...

HAHAHAHAHA, and to me meg, AND TO ME! TECHNOLOGY! blowwmmggg, "trishelle the trashcan" that is fucking amazing.

GREAT POST, AND GREAT POINT! i was off the greys train after junior year. i just, i just could not anymore...

were you ever on the nip/tuck train? i jumped off post carver/ when rosie odonnell got F-ed with a brown paper bag on her head...

Unknown said...

The City and The Hills are TERRIBLE. I continue to watch though. I'm addicted to reality TV.

I love the Real World. I don't often tell people that though...

Anonymous said...

I am really proud of you for coming to this decision

Anonymous said...

I'm so over the Hills and the City too. The CIty is TOO fake now, I know I know, like it wasn't before, but it's like two seperate episodes, last night was the first time that Whitenty and Olivia have seen eachother since last season.

Anyway, I'm glad I got some support on this. Also I'm about to jump the shark on Glee, the songs are amazing, even though it switches to ridiculously fake lip synce mode when they sing, but the story line is losing my attention FAST.


Erin B said...

Thank you for not doing a recrap Wednesday, I now can enjoy the blog Monday-Friday. I don't know how you ever had the patience to watch those shows much less recap their plots or lack there of.

lupyles said...

The only reason I still watch The Hills and The City is because of the Canadian After Show. They pretty much skewer everyone on the show and point out all the flaws. Other than that, both shows jumped the shark a loooong time ago...

Anonymous said...

I applaud your bravery in overcoming your tv addiction. I might need a sponsor soon. The Hills and The City are so bad for me, but I just keep coming back for more.

Hi, my name's Amanda, and I have a problem.

Great post!

Caitlin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Caitlin said...

I completely agree about Season 3 Gossip Girl. When I realized after the first episode I had erased my season pass during the summer and failed to set it again, I was surprisingly not upset. I haven't watched this week's episode, yet I don't feel hollow.

Sorry Serena, Blair and pretty Nate. I'm sticking with Season 1 and the awesomely slutty Constance Billard uniforms.

Bridgette said...

You know what show did not jump the shark?? Pushing Daisies. And that's why I miss it. That, and the sexiest piemaker I've ever seen.

Lisa said...

Okay, so this post made me alternate between defensiveness/feverish agreement.

A) Pillars of the Earth is a good book!! Although I did read it in its entirety while stuck in bed delirious with the flu, so it may be that vivid dreams made it seem better than it is in actuality.

B) You want to know exactly when Grey's Anatomy jumped the shark? When Meredith "drowns" slash dies, sees her Mom, wakes up and finds out *GASP* bitchy Mom is dead. Follow that with the Izzy/George debacle, and I got out of that unhealthy relationship years ago.

C) I haven't given up on Gossip Girl yet. (In its defense, the rest of this season has been waay better than Ep. 1) But I am too embarrassed to admit to my roommates that I still watch it. So instead of watching it on TV on Mondays like a normal person, I surreptitiously watch it online in my room...or at work...days later.

Anonymous said...

speaking of jumped the shark...


Grant said...

Remember how awesome Nip/Tuck was? And remember how terrible it is now?

I think the LA move was its shark moment, but I know some people think it was somewhere in the third season.

Caitlin said...

My favorite jumping the shark episode is on Reno 911. They keep trying to jump over this shark in a shark tank and falling in and getting hurt.

2b1b: The sardonic voice of 20-somethings everywhere, Monday through Friday. said...

HAHAHA...Excellent call.

Chamuca said...

You git further into Pillars of the Earth than I did. I tried reading it while skipping over the castle parts, but I was afraid I'd miss some of the storyline.

But seriously, his castle descriptions were the equivalent of him jacking off while looking in the mirror.

callie ;) said...

first of all, THANK YOU for defining "jump the shark" for me - people use it at work all the time, and now i don't have to just nod like i know what they're talking about.

secondly, given your realization that the city is terrible (finally), inquiring minds want to know - are you going to start recrapping another show for the blog?

Christine said...

I'm pretty sure The Real World jumped the shark for me when Trashelle and Stephen thought they might be preggers. As they sat there in those hanging bubble chairs, contemplating the future, I reached for a razor and the remote, slitting my wrists (horizontally) and changing the channel simultaneously.

Also, CT is a trainer at my $20 a month Planet Fitness.

Catybug said...

Hate to break it to ya, but I think you are officially older than ALL of the cast memebers. I think the cut off is 24. Heartbreaking, no?

Anonymous said...

It's a shame, I still watch Grey's, and at the end of each episode I ask myself why. But beyond the Izzie killing her fiance, and Izzie/George fiasco, the worst "jumping the shark" moment is definitely Izzie having sex and orgasming with the ghost of her fiance that she recently killed. Just too much... (so why am I still watching it???)

Lydia said...

I second the thanks for explaining 'jump the shark.' You'd probably like the book 'Talk Retro to Me,' which is conveniently hundreds of pages shorter than 'Pillars of the Earth' (which I actually finished, and was very proud of.) Most of Ken Follet's other books are much better (and are short enough that you don't want to slit your wrists.) Try 'Jackadaws.'
Also, I haven't quite given up on Gossip Girl just yet. Mainly because I only watch it while I'm doing something productive, like painting my nails or folding laundry. If I only use half of my brain on it, it sounds more intelligent and it's easier to shut the voice up when it says "but that's so ridiculous."

Vanessa said...

Just came across your site. amazing post!

Marie said...

The thing about the Real World is that it will never jump shark; there will always be a new class of highschoolers that haven't seen the past 20 seasons and will be intrigued by the drama, the issues, and what it's "really like" to be a 20-something. The Real World is always fresh with a new cast and audience. Although I do agree it got a lot more sluttier and revolved around going to the bars with the Las Vegas season.

Since you posted about the Real World, I went to look up to see how many season I actually watched... wow WAY too many (basically all seasons played through middle and high school). I remember being finished watching after seeing Svetlana on whatever season bitch to her mom and everyone in the cast about how she didn't get everything she wanted. Then I realized I was too old fo dat shiz.

Also, for the random record, Melinda from the Austin season was the first time I ever saw the hair "bump". And boy did I think it was ugly (still do)!

allison said...

FYI: The Shitty's Roxy was on the Sunday night's episode of ABC's Brothers & Sisters . . . she's an actress! How did we, the MTV audience, not anticipate that transition?!

Wiggs (The Beholder) said...

Aw, Pillars of the Earth is one of my fave books! I think that it's one that you have to read on vacation, when you've got hours and hours and can get through at least 100-200 pages a day. Same for World Without End. Otherwise you don't get sucked into the awesome characters and their kinky medieval lives.

I recently gave up on Grays, too. You know what other show jumped the shark? How I Met Your Mother (or HIMYM in our household). I just got so SICK of Ted whining, and the band camp girl being all band campy, and Bob Sagat trying to draw out the suspense over which girlfriend ended up spawning the kids he's talking to. I wish that show could be all-Barney, all-the-time.

I feel like these shows need to learn a lesson from Lost and realize that they're only good when the writers have a plot and an end-point in mind.

CD said...

Totally agree with all! Also, not sure if you are a fan of Brothers & Sisters, but Roxy (from the City) is going to be the surrogate Mother for the gay couple! COME ON!

maggie said...

at Bridgette
"You know what show did not jump the shark?? Pushing Daisies. And that's why I miss it. That, and the sexiest piemaker I've ever seen."

OMG yess. i wanted to cry when it was cancelled. another one that DID NOT jump shark? Arrested Developement. just sayin'

fabulous post Chris, this made me happier than any recrap could :)

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