Breaking Bad, Futurama, Burn Notice, and Dexter are in their final seasons this summer. Together, these shows make up an essential part of the American cultural experience, and will leave the Nation’s TV geeks wanting. Shows with faithful fanbases are surprisingly few and far between, and truly outweigh their concurrent broadcasts this summer.
These four examples occupy very different zones of appeal and, subsequently audience demographics. They all kill in the crucial male 18-34 demo, but Futurama, with its candy colored, satirical vision of the future (not to mention the plethora of memes) is disproportionately popular among people that can be called “dudes” without being offended. Burn Notice and Dexter, with their down and dirty intrigue, have resonated with women and girls just as much as they capture the male audience. Breaking Bad however, is the most popular among of all this shows on men 18-34, 34-45, and females of the same age. I bet AMC is disappointed that they cant milk another season out of it.
Supposed replacements for these shows are not exactly on par with the unique tones established by each of these shows. Burn Notice watchers might be keen to tune into Psych for their fix of investigative gags, but may find the goofiness lacking. Another show based in Miami, Showtime’s Dexter, is only one among a plethora of serial killer stories. However, it is only show to take on the killer as the protagonist, and has a macabre, post-noir malaise that is unrivaled in TV and movies. Comedy Central’s Futurama will be outlived by its predecessor in show creator Matt Groening’s portfolio, the immortal Simpsons, but the visual splendor that is inherent in the cartoon comedy cannot be matched by any animated sitcom set in the present-day.
Ultimately, these shows will make their final resting place, in their entirety on Netflix, where people can spend their waking lives in the worlds that each of these shows creates. Until then, we all have to suck it up, stop being so sentimental, and find new types of shows to obsess over as if they were the end-all be-all of televised entertainment. Remember when Lost engendered rabid fandom? And then, one day, we all moved on. The ace in the hole of good TV is its ability to bring attention to a fever pitch every week.
It should be noted that America makes some of the best television in the world. You can expect the type of excitement to exist for a multitude of shows for years to come. Whether that excitement comes from Time Warner, Netflix, Comcast, or the Major and Minor Studios, that is for the hegemons to figure out.