Ask Matt: ‘Bachelor’ and ‘Buffy’ Scandals, ‘American Housewife,’ ‘Good Doctor’ & More
Welcome to the Q&A with TV critic — also known to some TV fans as their “TV therapist” — Matt Roush, who’ll try to address whatever you love, loathe, are confused or frustrated or thrilled by in today’s vast TV landscape. (We know background music is too loud, but there’s always closed-captioning.)
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 (@TVGMMattRoush). Look for Ask Matt columns on many Tuesdays and Fridays.
How Will The Bachelor Proceed Without Its Host?
Question: I am extremely upset about this backlash against The Bachelor‘s Chris Harrison. I’m not going to comment why, as I’m sure my reasons will be misunderstood. All I will say is that I don’t agree with the majority of fans. I still love Chris Harrison and don’t agree with his stepping down. Do you know what ABC’s plans are for continuing to air the remainder of the season? I will be really mad if they don’t. And I realize it may be too soon to know, but will Chris Harrison be replaced for future shows or will they just give it some time before casting for The Bachelorette? — Melinda
Matt Roush: Agree or disagree, there’s no question this controversy couldn’t have arrived at a more awkward time for a franchise that has for a long time struggled with racial and diversity issues and had hoped to at least address the situation in a positive manner with the casting of Matt James as the first Black Bachelor. I’m the last person to know what this guilty pleasure will do in the long run — I have always found the show to be in the worst of taste beyond its cultural blind spots — but I’d expect the current season to air what’s already in the can as is, with the exception of Chris Harrison not participating in the After the Final Rose special, as recently announced. Whether his contrition, which seems sincere, will be seen as enough to keep him on board as host going forward is the great unknown, and I wouldn’t presume to speculate. It’s almost certainly too soon to make that call just yet.
Has Buffy Been Tarnished?
Matt Roush: An important but troubling question, which raises the issue once again of whether we can separate a work of art from what we may learn later about the artist (or in this case the show’s creator). I was reminded again of this while watching HBO’s excellent docuseries Allen v. Farrow (premiering Sunday), because I personally have not been able to watch any of Woody Allen’s films, especially those in which he appears, since the Soon-Yi and Dylan Farrow incidents. But unlike Woody’s movies, which often star its auteur and makes it nearly impossible to separate him from his work, Buffy as a series is a more collaborative accomplishment, conveying so many positive statements and images about female empowerment and diversity (including sexuality) that however all of this plays out, I believe its current and future fans will continue to appreciate the show, which as others have pointed out is bigger than one person.
This is a tough subject for me to address, because I wrote so much about the show, which I so admired, during its run, and even moderated panels years ago in which Joss Whedon and his stars, including Charisma Carpenter and the many who have stood by her, appeared. I am saddened and shocked by the allegations of harassment and cruel behavior, and support anyone coming forward with their truth. Will this color how I look at Buffy and Angel going forward? Probably, but it won’t diminish my respect for what the series and its unforgettable characters stand for.
The Housewife‘s New Neighbors
Question: With the high-profile departure of Carly Hughes from American Housewife at the beginning of this season, and Ali Wong seemingly appearing on fewer and fewer episodes, can we expect a complete turnover of Katie Otto’s (Katy Mixon) besties when the show returns for Season 6 next fall? Already, Holly Robinson Peete has taken on the major recurring role of Katie’s sassy “pre-Westport” friend, Tami. And more recent episodes have introduced Jake Choi (Single Parents) as J.D., Katie’s openly gay new pal and adoptive father-to-be. This just got me thinking: Is it any coincidence that these two new characters happen to be of the same racial combination as the two characters whom American Housewife seems poised to phase out (with one of them being an LGBT character potentially replacing the LGBT character who has already left)? — Rhonda H
Matt Roush: You’re assuming there will be a Season 6 of American Housewife, which may not be as done a deal as it once might have seemed, given the behind-the-scenes shakeup and damage control from when Carly Hughes left the show assailing what she called a “toxic environment.” It seems pretty obvious that adding Holly Robinson Peete to the cast in a major co-starring role was an attempt to correct the balance, ditto the arrival of J.D. That’s an awful lot of change already for one series in one year, so if it continues, I’d be surprised if it doesn’t at least try to maintain the status quo as it currently stands. But adding to the chorus is this from Chris C: “What has happened to American Housewife?? With the cast shake-ups and changes, PC plot lines and dialogue, and all their biting wit and sarcasm removed, how can this once beloved TV show stay afloat!? Every week it gets worse and worse and I’m afraid it’s jumped the shark.”
TMI on The Good Doctor
Matt Roush: Aren’t we all sexual beings? Look, even I cringe when Shaun starts talking about his sex life, but that’s part of the point of the show — to make people uncomfortable in his presence and to learn to tolerate his unfiltered outbursts, because in so many ways he expresses out loud the sorts of doubts, fears, joys and curiosity that most of us keep buttoned up. Sometimes for good reason.
Question: My husband and I watch The Good Doctor. The first episodes were very good. The last show had a transgender woman transitioning to man choosing to have the gay partner’s baby. We feel this show has gone too far with this type of controversial subject. Is this a trend for TV? We hope not! ‑ Donna
Matt Roush: Speaking of tolerance … I will concede that this storyline, especially involving the pregnancy in a transitioning character, was out there and something I hadn’t yet seen on a medical drama, but these shows are always pushing the envelope and I wouldn’t expect that to change. I still remember the furor over a two-part episode of CBS’s Medical Center back in 1975 when Robert Reed played a famous doctor who came out as transgender as he underwent gender reassignment surgery. I’m reading this question as being about whether TV will continue to address controversial subjects that are sure to unsettle some in the audience, but if it’s also about whether transgender characters are here to say, I’d say yes to both.
Leaving Us Wanting More
Matt Roush: Good timing, with the first-season finale airing this Sunday (Feb. 21), and it’s a good one, resolving the murder of fledgling detective Eliza Scarlet’s (Kate Phillips) father. At the moment, there are only rumors of a second season, and it will depend on whether and when the British producers proceed. But if they do, you can bet Masterpiece will air it. It’s right in their comfort zone. (Happily, the anthology’s All Creatures Great and Small, which also concludes its first season on Sunday with a special Christmas episode, has already been renewed.)
Question: 30 Coins for your thoughts? I don’t know if you’re into HBO’s 30 Coins, but I find it fascinating, like if original recipe The X-Files had a show bible and a clue as to their endpoint. Plus, Paco & Elena’s will-they-or-won’t-they is the best since Season 1 of Moonlighting. It definitely has the most gruesome opening title sequence/crucifixion re-enactment ever on TV. My question is they are promoting next week as the series finale: Is that series like in England (what we would call a season) or is it really a one-and-done? (Fingers crossed for the former.) — Woody
Matt Roush: What I sampled of this HBO Europe import I really liked — this sort of spooky creepshow is right up my dark alley — and it’s high on my list of shows to catch up on. (The unfortunate reality is that for every show I watch, whether network or cable or streaming, there are countless others I’m not able to make time for. There are only so many hours.) That said, there is no definitive word yet of a second season, but it also wasn’t billed as a limited series, so there’s hope.
That’s all for now—and because of the President’s Day holiday, there won’t be another Ask Matt column until late next week. Remember that we 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 with your question.)