Chris Chupik first said it about two weeks ago: 2016, bad writing, implausible premises, and why are we even still watching this?
Now, as most of you know, I’m not a big one for TV. Mostly, if I get captured by a tv show, or two, it means that I was sitting around, spending time with my husband while he watches, and the show was so good, it caught me.
I got caught by 2016 for various reasons. To begin with I’ve enjoyed some of the predecessor shows. Even 2001 with its nail-biting climax three quarters of the way through, a sudden shift in focus from what had been discontent and bickering abroad to an external threat… well, I’ll be honest, that season wasn’t enjoyable. It depressed me so much I acquired a new cat and spent three months in front of the tv, crying. But I WAS watching. In 2002 the writers had already lost the plot some. The appeal to the UN subplot really didn’t appeal, because let’s be honest, the UN is so twentieth century and no one in the twenty first could believe in it as a force for good. Particularly not when we’ve seen the subplots about sex slavery where UN troops go, about child abuse, about UN secretaries who are both rapacious AND crooked. So I thought they were trying to return to the plots of a simpler time, but it is the effect of writing that you can’t put humpty dumpty together again. Once you’ve dirtied a character or subverted a background, you don’t have it back clean and sparkling, unless of course, you engage in one of the endless reboots that comic book franchises do. And I always thought that was a cheap trick.
Anyway, since then we’ve had our ups and downs with this franchise. I thought 2012 had jumped the shark with having one of our ambassadors die on 911 and yet the “crooked media” device being used to smooth it over and give the crooked president and his crooked associates yet another term.
But I hadn’t seen anything yet. In 2016 they take one of the responsible for the 2012 dead-ambassador debacle and run her for president. This was already stretching my disbelief, as I thought they’d have to use the crooked media to a near-unbelievable point to make it work.
They have. But to this they have added, to make it plausible this terrible person would win the election in a country of non-crazy people, the ascendancy of a crooked lapdog of government businessman, who is like the worst cliches of the seventies come together as her opponent.
To do this, they used the “crooked media” device to get rid of more promising candidates on both sides.
Now I understand there are contracts to honor, and the crooked ex-secretary of state might have one that said she got to play president later, but really…
One way to make her ascendancy plausible, in addition to giving her the least plausible opponent ever (in fact, many are predicting later in the season, the reveal of a double cross plot, in which her opponent is running SOLELY to handle her the presidency. As stupid as that plot would be, I regret to say it would be slightly more plausible than the idea that the opponent is playing it straight) is to handicap the opponent. Make him stumble a couple of times in public. Give him a secret illness.
The writers seem to be aware of this, but instead of applying it to the opponent, they applied it to this Hillary character, thereby making my disbelief start to scream for mercy.
As though to keep its viewership through sheer horror, the show started killing characters left and right. Let’s say that I think that George RR Martin is moonlight in 2016, with characters dying left and right. As though this weren’t enough, the foreshadowing has been really heavy all along.
I mean, okay, I’m not the greatest person to talk on forecasting, since I like mine so light other people don’t see him. That’s neither here nor there, though.
This one has been so heavy that we have trouble abroad, an impending massive economic crisis, and “government” that doesn’t do anything about its most show-defined legitimate function: Common defense.
Instead, the “government” in this show blunders around creating trouble, helping enemies and hurting friends, in a way no real life human being or even group of beings, human or alien would do. It just makes no sense.
It’s too obvious that, alert to flagging viewership, the writers are preparing a big “surprise” (not) global conflict to bring them back in 2017. Or as another critic put it “It’s obvious we’re watching the period that is labeled in history books ’causes leading up to’ just before the maps get all spikey and arrowey.”
Look, I’m as fond of a war show as the next viewer. It gives an opportunity to sketch characters larger than life, and to make subplots that resonate with practically everyone. Also, times being what they are, on likes the idea of problems one can shoot one’s way out of, as opposed to the ones we have to deal with.
But 2016 has run up against a major issue with long running shows trying to create a major “war scenario” — it’s almost impossible to do without someone (to quote one of the worst scripted scenes of a former show) “acting stupidly.”
And the problem with the idea that the character should cause his/her own problems is that you must be careful not to make it too obvious and stupid. Because if you do, we lose respect for the characters and confidence in the writers, and stop watching.
Which I think is where most of us are right now. And no, the appearance of random “creepy clowns” unexplained, in various parts of the show, doesn’t make any of this more plausible or interesting. It just makes me wonder if the writing team is having a nervous breakdown.
As much as I hate reboots, comic style, I think that it’s time for one, if this series of shows is going to be salvageable, and if anyone is going to come back to watch 2017. Heck, at this point I’d take that most hackneyed of reboot devices “it was all a dream.”
I suspect that the writers will resist this because they think they’re entitled to artistic pride. Trust me, guys, you don’t have any left.
2016 is just a bad show that needs to be rebooted, if it’s going to save itself.