I’m tired and frustrated by our culture’s inability to finish well.
We start a lot of things well in America, but we don’t end things well. The most recent example is Game of Thrones.
The most talked about piece of entertainment in the last 10 years is doing a great job at frustrating fans in its last season. I never had any interest to see it because my life was full and I wasn’t going to pay for HBO. However, for the past several months we have had guests staying with us who have HBO on demand. We enjoyed and got through seven seasons, with the help of the fast forward button which was used liberally for the unnecessary graphic sex scenes in seasons 1-2. We caught up just in time to see the release of the final season eight.
I’m not interested in dissecting what has gone horribly wrong in the second to last episode, which I just watched. I’m interested in the horrible pattern that is emerging from our culture. The last TV show that captured America’s imagination and dominated conversation was LOST. Loved that show. Amazing show. Until the last episode. Now I hate that show. I feel like JJ Abrams wasted all of my time and I hope he has to receive some sort of cosmic justice on his deathbed. He wasted a lot of people’s time, and he should be forced to watch Fonzie jump the shark for the cumulative total time that people trusted him with their eyeballs.
Happy Days’ last days weren’t happy. LOST ended up losing us. Game of Thrones is a game gone bad. And let’s not forget that Seinfeld had an unsatisfying end. Who cares about fictional entertainment? The thing is that our art is mirroring other cultural touch points.
I know of too many marriages that are ending when the kids leave the house. They didn’t finish well. Political scandals with tenured politicians is a storyline we are all familiar with. The number of pastors who have been in the headlines for not ending well is well-documented.
Ending well takes focused attention. When we start something, we know that all of our attention is demanded or it won’t get off the ground. The amount of money and energy that couples put into counseling is dwarfed by the amount of money and energy spent on the wedding and honeymoon. Politicians don’t crash in their first term but in later terms. Pastors who start churches are on their knees regularly because they know they don’t have the resources to do what God is calling them to do, but as soon as resources start to stream in, the amount of time spent to manage the budget dwarfs the energy spent managing their spiritual life.
I recently did an Instagram story with open Q&A relating to DIY projects. Some women asked about how they can motivate their man to finish projects they have already started, instead of starting new projects. It’s easier to make a trip to Home Depot and open up a wall than it is to sand the drywall and apply paint. The answer isn’t a construction solution, it is a character solution.
I don’t think GOT is just out of touch with their fans. I think the producers are infected with the human condition of putting their best energy in the start of something instead of the finishing of something. I think they just got lazy. They chose to phone in their conclusion in hopes that a bigger budget with better special effects would satisfy their viewership.
Bigger budgets don’t facilitate better endings. That is a warning we would all be smart to heed. We must do better to end well.