Ask Matt: A Death in the ‘Modern Family,’ ‘Grey’s’ Triangle, ‘Shooter’ and ‘Take Two’ Finales, ‘Pose’
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.
Why Do Comedies Want to Make Us Cry?
Question: Why are they going to kill off a “significant” family member on Modern Family? This show is wonderful, funny comedy. Why do they have to ruin it by bringing in tragedy? I stopped watching black-ish once they split up Dre and Bow. These shows are supposed to be comedies, something to bring laughs and escape from real-life hardships, not to have to go through them with their characters. Why does Hollywood hate happy endings and fun stuff? There’s enough drama in real life. Let those that prefer that watch all the stupid reality shows that are on the air. Let the comedies make us laugh! — Linda M
Matt Roush: Into even the sunniest of shows (which many weeks the snarky Modern Family most certainly is not) a little rain must fall, and having grown up in the glory days of the Norman Lear sitcom (All in the Family, Maude, Good Times, One Day at a Time, etc.), I can’t imagine those landmark classics having made such a cultural impact without balancing comedy and occasional authentic human drama. Of which death is the most inevitable of subjects for a long-running show of any quality to tackle.
The best comedies are well equipped to jerk tears when necessary, finding humor amid the darkest of times—a highlight of Will & Grace last season was when Karen tearfully laid Rosario to rest. And I would hope Modern Family could rise to the occasion with sensitivity, grace, and maybe a touch of the farce in which it specializes, so it won’t feel so much like a “very special” episode. This doesn’t have to turn a show into a downer, and I admire producers willing to shift gears to reflect the reality of their characters’ world. I published several comments last spring from black-ish fans who hated watching the couple go through their rough patch—I’m happy to report they’re back together, possibly wiser if not sadder—so maybe you’ll check back in with the Johnsons next month.
Doctor, Heal Thy Own Heart!
Question: Perusing the latest TV Guide Magazine (Returning Favorites issue) about Grey’s Anatomy (a show I do not watch), I read that Dr. Owen Hunt is torn between his baby mama & his wife, but the producer says, “There are no villains here?” I could name at least one. What kind of moral compass does this guy have? I assume his wife has her divorce lawyer on speed dial. — Eloise
Matt Roush: First, it’s his “ex-wife” that Owen still has feelings for. But point taken, and thanks for making me laugh at the prospect of trying to explain the messy lives of these amorous Grey’s Anatomy doctors to an outsider. It would take too long. But the bottom line is that Hunt’s ex, Amelia, is possibly even more messed up than Owen, and his bond with “baby mama” Teddy goes beyond complicated. If you don’t like characters like these for their failings and fumblings, then you’re probably better off steering clear.
Unsatisfying Finales (Shooter and Take Two)
Question: [SPOILER ALERT] I finally got involved in Shooter on USA … and they killed off Bobby Lee’s wife Julie! With all the insanity and nonsense he put her through … she’s gone? It kind of frustrated me and makes me not want to tune in anymore. Ridiculous turn of events. — Louise
Matt Roush: Well, you’ll at least be spared that problem, because there will be no more episodes of Shooter to tune into. This season turned out to be its last—and no, at the moment, no streaming service has stepped in to rescue it. But when I heard that this took place in the finale, I groaned even without watching. This kill-the-wife stunt is getting old.
Question: I would also like to chime in on Take Two, in particular that the Season 1 finale ended with a major cliffhanger with the Eddie Cibrian character being framed for murder, and thus a cancellation would be another slap in the face to everyone following this series—even more so than Timeless, which got a two-hour wrap-up movie. When is this going to stop??? I know that there is blame on both sides as writers use this as a tool to try and get a renewal, but again it’s a great disservice to fans who follow this product. I personally like the series and much prefer it to extremely hard-to-follow series as Syfy’s The Magicians or HBO’s Westworld — can you explain that finale?—JV
Matt Roush: I really try not to beat up on shows like this, that are meant as guilty-pleasure comfort food at best, but I did watch the finale’s last scene as it aired, and did a combination eye roll/groan (which counts as exercise these days). It’s a hack twist conceived by hacks who can’t think of a better or more original way to end a season than by putting its hero in the sort of contrived jeopardy that will likely be put behind him in an episode or two, if they even get the chance. As noted here, this kind of cliffhanger is presumably a hedge against cancellation, but it only makes me less inclined to ever check it out again. Speaking of which …
Are Guilty Non-Pleasures a Thing?
Question: (A rhetorical question): Am I the only TV viewer who stops watching a show if I think it’s terrible? Not to knock John from last week’s column and his negative take on Take Two, but his detailed question makes it clear that he suffered through the show’s entire run. Other writers in this archive reflect the same perseverance. I wonder what motivates them. And where they find the time! — Jon
Matt Roush: Good questions, especially the one about time—I can barely even keep up with shows I like, let alone dislike, and (for example) am desperate to find time to finish the final episodes of Season 2 of Netflix’s wonderful Atypical, but my head’s already into October, sad to say. My best explanation for this is that some people still love to cynically hate-watch shows they say they “love to hate,” and taking a more optimistic view, I imagine some people may choose to watch a show they wish they liked in hopes it gets better. Sometimes it even does.
More Ballroom, Less Boardroom, on Pose
Question: The category is: questions about Pose. The beginning of Season 1 focused a lot on the juxtaposition between corporate greed and the ballroom scene, but as the season progressed, less and less time was spent on the corporate side of things. Which was a good thing because in my opinion, any time spent focusing on Evan Peters, James Van Der Beek and Kate Mara completely killed the momentum. Towards the end of the season we saw (*spoiler alert*) the relationship between Evan Peters’ Stan and Angel come to an end, so there’s no link between those two worlds any more.
I understand that it was necessary to have those characters to link the ballroom scene to something viewers were more familiar with and could relate to more, and having those bigger names in the show allowed the series to really break new ground by casting unknown trans performers in the other roles. However, the show has now built its small but loyal audience, and I feel the ballroom components were so much more engaging than the B-story about corporate America, and I think it would be a better show if the door was closed on Van Der Beek, Peters and Mara’s characters and Season 2 focused on everyone else. Do you think that would make for a better show, and what do you think the chances are that those characters will be back next season? — Campbell
Matt Roush: Excellent points here. I can’t say what to expect from Season 2, but I would hope the show’s producers understand its strengths lie within the families of these flamboyant ballroom houses. (When FX brought out cast members and producers from Pose for the summer TCA, only those involved in the ballroom world were included on the panel, which doesn’t mean much beyond the fact they were obviously the star attractions.) The worst part of Season 1 was easily anything involving James Van Der Beek’s overdone Trump wannabe-as-Gordon Gekko parody of ’80s greed. If the show still wants to explore Stan’s fascination with Angel and the world she inhabits, that’s still fair game, because it is an exotic subculture, and it’s interesting to see it from the perspective of outsiders, especially one who has let his obsession derail his family and career. Just not outsiders as trite and annoying as Van Der Beek’s laughably smarmy Matt.
And Finally …
Question: Will Travel Channel’s Hotel Impossible be on anymore? I loved that show with Anthony Melchiorri. That show makes you not want to stay at hotels anymore! — Dennis
Matt Roush: I get a lot of questions like this, and it’s almost impossible (no pun intended) to keep up with the comings and goings of these reality-based cable series. Often they’re just in between seasons, and there’s no predicting when they come on and off the schedule, but in the case of Hotel, it’s no longer in production. Though Travel Channel does make past episodes available on its app, for devices like Roku, Amazon Fire and Apple TV, or the phone, and on the channel’s website.
That’s all for now. 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.