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April 18, 2014

Things I Hate About TV: Sitcoms that kill off characters

by Bob Sassone, posted Apr 8th 2006 1:12PM
Will and GraceDid you see Will and Grace the other night? If you recorded it or you're waiting for the rerun, then stop reading right here. Well, actually, you don't have to stop reading right here, because I won't reveal the spoiler until after the jump. So I should rephrase the above and say that if you haven't seen it yet, don't click below. OK? OK.

Will's dad died of a heart attack.

Now, he couldn't just die of a heart attack (that would have been bad enough), he died because he was upset about having a big argument with Will, and now Will's going to feel guilty about causing his death (ooooooo, angst and guilt leading into the series finale!) The episode ended with Will's mom calling him and telling him the news, after he finally decided to talk to his dad after he had called many times and left messages that Will ignored.

And what were they arguing about? Yup, that's right, about Will being gay. Grace is pregnant, and Will's parents gave her Will's old baby blanket as a gift, and this upset Will because he realizes they did this because they think he's never going to have a baby of his own because he's gay. Will confronts his dad, who says that, yes, while he loves and supports his son, it would have been easier if he was straight.

Now, excuse me, but haven't they already addressed this in a couple of episodes from previous seasons? The ep where Will's dad is getting an award from his company and doesn't want Will to go. Will does go and it leads to happy "I accept that you're gay" resolutions. In fact, Will's dad has always been very cool about it, so this turnaround seems even more peculiar. Now, they didn't do a complete 180 and have Will's dad be against Will being gay. He just thinks that things would have been easier for everyone if Will had turned out straight. But still, this is an immensely needless plot development.

And to then kill off the dad?!? How cruel. Now Will and his dad can't patch things up? This will undoubtedly lead to Will doing a little soul searching and will probably mean that he'll want to be a father himself and maybe he'll adopt Grace's kid and they can live together in platonic Manhattan paradise. Maybe they'll have Leo killed on one of his overseas medical missions, so Will can be the only dad. Hey, maybe they can even get the writers from ER to pen the episode. They're good at needlessly killing off characters in various ways.

Sitcoms, unless the actor dies in real life, or you're MASH, don't kill off any major characters, especially if it's just for a ratings ploy or an end-of-the-series shocker to get the emotions in the characters going.

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Courtney

I thought this episode was brilliant, I won't lie to you. Yes, sitcoms are supposed to be mindless and silly, but one of W&G's best attributes is its ability to get serious for a minute without losing the comedic heart of the show. Those are my favorite episodes ("Hospital Show," "Buncha White Chicks...," "Bed, Bath, & Beyond").

Yes, it was cliched and cruel to have Will and George fight before he died, but they're going for the emotion. One of my TV professors once said that the best comedies can make us cry and the best dramas can make us laugh, and I 100% agree. W&G's cast has the acting chops to handle this drama and I applaud them for doing so. This is life - people die, issues arise, etc. It's just a little out of character for W&G to do something like this, but there's definitely a reason.

I also LOVED "Mother Karen" finally telling Jack that it was time for him to grow up - it was about time and Megan delivered that speech perfectly. Just wait until the May 4 episode, people, Karen has some awesome monologues (unless they're butchered in editing) and I seriously might cry. Give this woman another Emmy.

April 11 2006 at 6:18 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Sugar

It was pretty convoluted...well, more than usual. I couldn't watch it all the way through. Figured I'll catch it in repeats. Now, "Sex and the City" is a show that I would love to see resurface.

April 09 2006 at 10:41 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Erin

Couldn't agree more. I've watched for years and don't plan on tuning in next week. Worthless.

April 08 2006 at 11:57 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Meg

Another sitcom that has killed off characters, but did it effectively, is Scrubs. But I think that has a lot to do with its status as a hospital comedy... death is just a part of the show.

April 08 2006 at 8:36 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
astrogirl

just so you know, if you are reading this via the RSS feed, there is no jump. There is no link to click on. Its just the full story in one hit.

Im not complaining, as I wanted to know who died, but.. I'm just saying.

I happen to agree about the people dying in sitcoms though. It's never done well, and I dont watch sitcoms for serious issues. I watch them because I want to be braindead for 30mins and have a laugh. If I wanted character death I would tune into a drama.

April 08 2006 at 8:06 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Lyn

Well, I hate to burst any bubbles, but a fact of gay life is that regardless of how accepting parents may be of their kid's sexual orientation, when they get honest about it, most would say it would be easier if the son or daughter were straight. And, sad as it is, it WOULD be easier, not only for the rest of the family, but for the gay person. We can't get married. We can legally be discriminated against in most workplaces. We are subject to harrassment simply because we hold hands with our loved one in a movie. A parent who loves his or her child wants the kid to have an easy life. And although we've made a lot of progress (at least until the W years), it's still a lot easier to be straight than gay. That's not homophobia. That's life.

April 08 2006 at 3:18 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Toby OB

Since Sydney Pollack is still alive, (at least as far as I know), they'll probably pull something cheesy like a dream sequence where Will can patch things up with his Dad's ghost.

I never would have considered the part of Will's Dad to be a major character in the show, though. Before clicking on the jump, I was expecting you to reveal it to be Rosario; that would be a major character. At the very least, Stan (this time for real).

I can't believe in this day and age TV shows don't pay attention to their own histories. I can understand when old-time shows like 'I Love Lucy' did it - they had no clue that one day people would be watching those episodes endlessly in syndication.

Even when 'MASH' started screwing around with their own timeline and past history, that could be forgiven because VCRs were still out of the price range for most people when that show was on the air.

But to violate that inner history nowadays when people can buy the boxed sets of DVDs and watch it On Demand and see where they screwed up what came before?

It doesn't make sense.

April 08 2006 at 3:06 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Bob Jones

I have to agree. I have seen this so many times, Home Improvement did atleast 2 - why? To put the characters through some emotional growth? Its a sitcom! Don't you just miss the simplicity of Three's Company, nobody ever died on that show.

Shows like Scrubs can do it, obviously, but brainless sitcoms - stay away!

April 08 2006 at 3:00 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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