Ask Matt: Matchmaking on 'Big Bang,' 'Nashville,' 'Crossing' Closure, Emmy Inequities
Welcome back to the Q&A with TV critic (also known to some TV fans as their "TV therapist") Matt Roush, who'll address whatever you love, loathe, are confused or frustrated or thrilled by in today's vast TV landscape. One caution: This is a spoiler-free zone, so we won't be addressing upcoming storylines here unless it's already common knowledge. Please send your questions and comments to [email protected] (or use the form at the end of the column) and follow me on Twitter. Look for Ask Matt columns on most Tuesdays and Fridays.
Will Raj Find Love in Big Bang’s Twilight?
Question: With The Big Bang Theory possibly entering its final year, Raj needs a girlfriend more than ever. Who would you pick for him from the following list: Melanie Lynskey. Sara Rue. Margo Harshman. Danica McKellar. Meredith Bishop. Brenda Song. Judy Greer. Galadriel Stineman. Larisa Oleynik. Eden Sher. Miranda Cosgrove. Cobie Smulders. Bridgit Mendler. — Kent
Matt Roush: Would it surprise you to know that I had to look up more than a few of these names? Regardless, it’s a fun pastime to play matchmaker to one of TV’s most lovelorn characters. Many of these would be fun to see—I’d especially love to see Eden Sher tackle a new character, although I’m holding out hope for that rumored Sue Heck spinoff of The Middle. But to be honest, should the writers look to give Raj a true romance if this next season does turn out to be the last, I’d like to see them bring back the hilarious Kate Micucci (such a hoot on shows like Raising Hope) as the painfully shy Lucy. Their episodes in the sixth and seven seasons were among my favorite moments for Raj, and I was tickled to see her reappear last season in the episode that reunited many of his exes.
Nashville Is Ending, But Must the Music?
Question: I'm loving this last season of Nashville, but I'm sad it is almost over. I will miss the characters and all the good music. They all are such good singers I wonder if any of them ever thought of pursuing a singing career instead of acting? Do you know? — Samantha
Matt Roush: I don’t know much beyond the Stella sisters (Lennon and Maisy, who play Maddie and Daphne) obviously coming from a musical background before joining Nashville. All of the core actors clearly had to have some significant musical chops, and a few had appeared in musicals or (like Jonathan Jackson, Charles Esten and Sam Palladio) played in bands in addition to their acting. But Nashville has given them all a great platform to display this side of their talent, including in concert, and I’d be surprised if many of them don’t continue on this path long after the show wraps next week.
Getting Closure for The Crossing
Question: I read your response to the Timeless fan and the fact that they may get a two-hour movie to wrap things up. Any chance ABC will do the same thing for The Crossing? I'm really annoyed with ABC for canceling The Crossing only a few episodes in. Hasn't network TV caught on yet to the fact that most viewers DVR shows, only to binge-watch four or five of them at a time? Word of mouth had just started with The Crossing, and it had the potential to build a much larger fan base if ABC had just been patient. This has been proven by the tweets and social media posts from overseas who just got the show and here in the States from fans who binge-watched every episode.
The logic of pairing it with the American Idol reboot was flawed as well. The shows in no way have a matching demographic. This is another example of why viewers no longer trust networks with new shows. Why get invested only to have it canceled mid-story? Better to wait until the show has a season or two behind it and is playing on Netflix. Or, better yet, every new show should be presented as a limited series. This way, we get closure at the end and have no expectations of a Season 2. I really hope a network like USA or TNT considers picking up The Crossing. Fans will follow. Or at least, like with Timeless, we get some type of closure to all the mysteries we were left with at the end of season 1. — Elaine
Matt Roush: Some interesting observations here, although the likelihood of continuing any show that had such a short shelf life is pretty much nil. You make a good argument that shows nowadays have a better chance at growing an audience after a first season is available for streaming, although you also have to face facts that the strategy of waiting for a full season to air before tuning in doesn’t have much value for the network airing those initial episodes. If you’re not supporting a show you believe in during its first run, it may never build up enough of an inventory to merit showing up on Netflix or another streaming service. Sort of a Catch-22 situation there.
As I’ve noted so many times before, there is a necessary leap of faith involved in watching shows on any platform, but especially on the broadcast networks, which can’t afford to be in the niche business. There’s no guarantee of success, and the failure rate on network TV is high. My favorite part of your argument is the suggestion that every season should feel complete and contained, in the style of a limited series. Obviously not everything would be wrapped up, but the frustration of being left hanging often sours the entire experience of watching.
A Good Word for Quantico
Question: I can't believe I'm writing in praise of Quantico, but hear me out. The show this season is a great example of how a deaf actor can be successfully used in any kind of show, even one that's not specifically about the deaf. The always great Marlee Matlin is good as a strong FBI agent. The show uses a mixture of signing, lip reading and captions, and it's seamless. You never forget that she's deaf, but it's not a distraction at all. I think this otherwise flawed show should get some recognition for this at least. It would be nice if more shows followed suit. — Robin
Matt Roush: Agreed. One of the stronger aspects of Quantico was the diversity of its ensemble, and adding Marlee Matlin, though amounting to too little too late, was another sign of that. I’ve heard other positive comments about this final season, and at the very least, ABC playing it out to the end (the Aug. 3 series finale) is a bonus to fans.
Streaming Shows at the Emmys
Question: Now that the Emmy nominations have been announced, don’t you think it’s time for the Emmy committee to have separate categories for streaming shows? For example: best streaming show comedy, best streaming show drama, best actor in a streaming show drama, etc. This way if there were those separate categories many more of the worthy broadcast shows, cable shows and streaming shows as well would be or could be nominated. — Paul
Matt Roush: This is an inevitable question—and I’ve received several like this—especially in a year when Netflix for the first time surpassed all others, including HBO, for total nominations. (A lot of that has to do with volume, and the way Netflix floods the market.) But as I’ve addressed this each time a new entity emerges, whether it’s cable or premium cable or now streaming, the answer is no. If the Emmys were to segregate any platform from another, it would diminish the importance of any of these awards.
A standout network series like This Is Us or black-ish—to name the only shows that made the cut in drama and comedy this year—should be able to compete with the best of cable and streaming. Without even addressing the logistics of having separate categories—acting, writing, etc.—for each of these fields when there’s already a daunting number of categories, separating a “best broadcast drama” from a “best” cable or streaming series is a tacit acknowledgement that it’s something lesser or different. Obviously the playing fields aren’t equal, although what (besides money and to some degree ratings) is stopping a network from doing something as ambitious as Game of Thrones or as relevant as The Handmaid’s Tale? Networks used to produce important movies and miniseries, and they’ve given up on that as well. The Emmys, however imperfect and incomplete, are a barometer of excellence, and muddying the waters by separating shows by platform regardless of content would add nothing to their credibility.
And Finally …
A follow-up to the recent question about the series version of A Discovery of Witches: Streaming services Sundance Now and Shudder announced at Comic-Con this week that both outlets have acquired the series for a simultaneous launch (date to be announced), with SundanceTV acquiring rights for a second window to air the show on a linear platform later.
That’s all for now—and the column may be more erratic the next few weeks, because of the TCA summer press tour. Thanks as always for reading, and remember that I can’t do this without your participation, so please keep sending questions and comments about TV to [email protected] or shoot me a line on Twitter (@TVGMMattRoush), and you can also submit questions via the handy form below. Please include a first name in your question.