Four TV Shows That Would Have Sucked If They'd Kept Going
The volume of TV shows canceled before their times could fill any of the swimming pools on any given Netflix executive’s sprawling estate. As loath as we are to admit it, however, not every canceled TV show — not even every good one — should have gotten more seasons. In fact, thanks to intel leaked by their creators, we know for a fact that some beloved TV shows would have sucked if they’d kept going. Like…
After six excruciatingly dramatic seasons, Dawson’s Creek left its golden quadrangle in a pretty good place: Pacey and Joey living together in New York, Dawson making movies in L.A. and Jen dead. (Okay, that one was a bummer, but you know what she’d have picked between that or living through the Trump years.) It might have pissed off some Jawson shippers, but it was never going to work out between Dawson and Joey. Can you imagine Joey in L.A.? Or Dawson giving up on the movies? This was really best for everyone.
At least, for a minute. When asked in 2018 how he would structure a reunion for the characters, creator Kevin Williamson announced that he would gleefully dash away their happiness like a vengeful god. “I think Dawson became Spielberg, all his dreams came true,” he said, which sounds nice, but he goes on to say, “I think they shattered. I think he fell apart. I think he never really found love.” That’s pretty devastating news for a guy whose sole dramatic function was to wax poetic about love. And E.T. But mostly love.
As for Joey and Pacey, “I think Pacey and Joey got married,” Williamson said, again giving us the briefest of squees before continuing, “I think they had a family, I think there were troubles. I think they got a divorce. I think that when we meet them, they’re in a very dark place.” Of course, this would all serve to set them up to “fall in love all over again as middle-aged adults” while Dawson is “on the cusp of changing his whole life and finding the one thing that’s going to make it magical,” but if we wanted sex, lies and intrigue among overanalytical adults rather than overanalytical teens, we have Frasier.
Freaks and Geeks
Judd Apatow and Paul Feig’s one-season wonder, on the other hand, famously left a whole sweater of plot threads dangling. Lindsay and Kim left to follow the Grateful Dead for the summer, Nick gave up drugs for disco (and presumably later learned a hard lesson about the relationship between those two things), Daniel gave up girls for Dungeons & Dragons and everyone else just kind of hung out. In fact, when you think about it, the series actually did leave them all in the perfect place. Bill even gets a nice line about the freaks turning into geeks and vice versa to close out everyone’s arcs. Where else could it really go beyond everyone getting a little cooler and/more serious?
Off the rails, according to Feig. In a 2012 Vanity Fair interview, he laid out his plans for the characters over multiple seasons, and while some were vague (Ken moves to Hawaii for weed reasons?), others were startlingly clear. He wanted Bill to become a jock (?), Neal to join show choir (?) and Sam to get into drama, but only to saddle him with the same boundary-crossing relationship Feig had with his drama teacher, which just seems rude. Kim would have gotten pregnant by a random deadhead who she never sees again, which also seems rude, given how she’d been set up to “get out” and break the white trash cycle. The second season would have opened with Lindsay “being taken out of a concert on a stretcher while Queen’s ‘Tie Your Mother Down’ plays,” fulfilling her parents’ fears and destroying the Weir family dynamic before eventually moving to New York City to live as a performance artist and then a human rights lawyer.
It turns out all we missed was Privileged White Woman: The Series, and again, we have Sex and the City for that.
You’d think Apatow would have learned a lesson about not planning future seasons after Freaks and Geeks’s unceremonious death. After all, he had no reason to believe the show he produced the next year, Undeclared, would succeed where its predecessor had failed. It was a similar ensemble comedy, basically Freaks and Geeks: The College Years, but much less revered, and not even double-take-level guest stars (we’re talking Adam Sandler and Will Ferrell, in the early 2000s) could have saved it.
But Apatow allowed himself to dream, and the result is “Lloyd’s Rampage,” a script included on the single-season Undeclared DVD release that would have been filmed for the show’s second season. It mostly revolved around Lloyd’s antics impressing another student in his acting class, planned to be played by Topher Grace, but it also spent a troubling amount of time on Marshall puking in a bar and becoming known as the “puke dude,” adorning T-shirts and posters and generally becoming a campus legend. He comes full circle from resenting this identity to embracing it before being usurped by a guy who poops in the library. If that was the level of humor we could have expected, it’s probably for the best that the whole thing went down in flames lit by That ‘70s Show creator Mark Brazill, who refused to lend Grace to Apatow in an email exchange so heated that it ended, “I look forward to That ‘90s Show.”
My So-Called Life
The teen drama that launched Claire Danes’ career actually did end with several unanswered questions. Does Claire end up with Jared Leto or the curly-haired whiny kid who was Cyranoing for him? Does her dad ever go through with any of his almost-infidelities? Does Rayanne ever wear an outfit that matches? Creator Winnie Holzman gave us the broad strokes answers to those questions in a 2016 Elle interview (in order: obviously Leto, yes, obviously not), but technically, her answers aren’t canon. There was an official novelization of the series published in 1995 and then a sequel in 1999, surely superseding Holzman’s vague musings, and had it been filmed, it would have left everyone clutching their flannel pearls.
The book, titled My So-Called Life Goes On, actually differs from Holzman’s vision in a few key ways. One is that Mr. and Mrs. Chase’s marriage isn’t destroyed by infidelity, so that’s boring. Another, presumably, is that curly-haired whiny kid, Brian, losing his virginity to Rayanne’s mom, so tha— wait, huh? There are other developments — the central couple continuing along their rocky path, a pregnancy scare for Sharon, a boy for Rickie and a vocational rollercoaster for Rayanne — but they all pale in comparison to going all Mrs. Robinson on us (and notably still resolve nothing). Hell, getting hired and fired from a succession of jobs is the most normal thing Rayanne has ever done. Considering society’s attitude toward attractive women abusing teenage boys at the time, Brian might have become cooler than her, so we should be thankful this story never made it to the screen. There would be riots.