Sunday, May 6, 2012

About that In Plain Sight finale...

The In Plain Sight series finale aired Friday night, and I actually watched it the previous Friday, and honestly, I still don't know what to think. Or, really, my thoughts and feelings have changed dozens of times in the last week. It wasn't bad, and there were some moments I really loved. But at the same time, it didn't seem right. First, you should read Marisa Roffman's review, because I agree with literally everything she says in it, and won't bother to repeat it all. But I wanted to highlight this issue:
Maybe it was the feeling of a band-aid covering the bullet wound because Marshall asked Mary to stop leaning on him since he would come every single time she called. How does that make his relationship with Abigail the right thing to stick with? If this was the best thing for them (and if they weren’t going to inevitably fall back into this pattern six months, a year, or ten years from now), why would he not say something like, “I can’t be that for you.” Take some responsibility, man! Say what you need and take the steps to make sure it is followed through. Instead, it felt like, “I will always be there for you and come every single time you call, so if you want to take responsibility for my relationship falling apart, continue to call and act as you are.”
Exactly, exactly, exactly. You cannot say "My behavior makes my fiancee uncomfortable, so you need to change your behavior or everything is your fault." I mean, you can say that, but Marshall has never been written as the kind of thoughtless, self-absorbed person who would. So while Fred Weller's acting in that scene was really impressive, the scene as a whole did a disservice to the character.

I didn't even necessarily need Mary and Marshall to end up together, but I would have much preferred an ambiguous ending. One of the main themes of In Plain Sight has always been that life is messy and complicated and ambiguous, and that fairy tale happy endings aren't real. By wrapping everything up so neatly, the writers in a way betrayed their own show. So the fact that there was a false-feeling happy ending that was directly contradictory to the unrealistic happy ending that 99% of fans seem to have wanted just seems like adding insult to injury. If any show called for a conclusion that was ambiguous and left at least some things unresolved, it was this one. If for whatever reason it was decided that the ending couldn't be left that way, I honestly can't figure out why the writers thought that the ending they settled on would be satisfying to viewers.

And even all of that would be easier to let go if the network had marketed the finale differently. Promos are always misleading to some extent, but cutting these promos to show Marshall saying "I love you" was just a slap in the face to loyal fans. And the promos ran so constantly that even my mother, who doesn't watch the show, said "Oh, yeah, that's the show that's ending but they're going to finally get together, right?" Across several platforms, including Twitter, the network marketed this finale heavily and emphasized that fans would be happy and satisfied with the way things ended. It's possible that whoever runs the show's official Twitter account didn't actually know how things would end, but regardless, it was irresponsible. USA Network is usually my favorite channel, but the way they've handled this has left me with negative feelings about them right as they're starting their promotional run-up to their hit summer shows. And that's really not a good way for them to help themselves, never mind be fair to anyone else.

My biggest fear going into this finale was that it would color my perception of the show as a whole - I didn't want to be left with bad feelings about one of the shows I've loved most for the past few years. And it's too early to tell, really, but I'm not sure I'll ever be able to feel the same way about In Plain Sight again. I'm hoping that if I give it a little time, I'll be able to rewatch earlier episodes without dwelling on the way it all ended. I hope. I'm already sad about the show ending in the first place; it will be even sadder if a clumsy finale and misleading marketing permanently sour fans' memories of a great show.

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