I Will Survive: The Stages of Grief When Your Favorite Show is Cancelled

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I remember that moment. It’s the most nerve wracking time of year for avid TV watchers. It’s late Spring and you’re waiting to see if your favorite show has been renewed. You watch as each network announces their schedule for the following fall. If you’re lucky, your show had such excellent ratings that it got renewed sometime in January . However, if you’re like me, your favorite shows are a little long in the tooth, only watched by die hard fans. Your favorite shows are on the bubble. So you wait with bated breath every Spring to see if you’re going to get one or two more years. And sometimes, you get lucky. As fans of Grey’s Anatomy have over and over and over (and over and over and over). Or your fandom is loud and buys you some time. Like Community’s fandom has done in the past.

Sadly, sometimes, you hear those fateful words. “Renewed for a final season”. Your show is ending. And you get to spend months anticipating the end. Getting used to the idea of saying goodbye to the characters you’ve grown so attached to, worrying if your show will get the send off it deserves or if you’ll join the fans of How I Met Your Mother in their rage. Your emotions are everywhere. But that’s okay. You’re going through the Five Stages of TV Grief.

Stage 1: Denial

This stage starts almost immediately as you google and check every entertainment site you know to make sure the information is correct. It can’t possible be legit, because the show had 3 episodes where the viewers increased a tiny bit. Once you’ve confirmed with every source you know of, you start to believe your show can be saved. Netflix will pick it up. It happened to Community. Maybe it will live on with youtube. Maybe someone will save it. They have to save it. Don’t they? Anyone? Bueller…

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Stage 2: Anger

This is where you are ready to storm the network and burn something to the ground. The network never believed in your show. They never gave it the attention they should have. They didn’t promote it enough. They changed kept changing the schedule. They should have never put it on at 8. They should have never put it on against that other show. The showrunner stopped caring. They should have given that one character (coincidentally your favorite) more screentime. Someone has fucked up and now your show has to pay. And if you’re going to make sure everyone knows how angry you are. 140 characters is not enough to get your point across. Ten tweets to everyone you can think of should do the trick.

Stage 3: Bargaining

This is when the defeat sets in. Your tweets were ignored. Or maybe even blocked. Your fandom has given up. And you think, I should have watched live instead of on Hulu, or DVR or livestreaming. You should have figured out how to do the Neilsen thing. If only you tweeted more when you watched. Bought more merch. You could have done more to make sure the show did well. You alone. Singlehandedly caused this cancellation. You won’t make this mistake again.

Stage 4: Depression

Cue the tears. It’s all over. All is lost. You’ll never get that elaborate storyline that you imagined in your head featuring your favorite character (that you would never have gotten anyway). Suddenly, you love every side character and you’ll miss them so much. You can’t even listen to the radio because that one song they played during that one scene hurts too much. You can’t watch your DVDs because it just reminds you how much you’re losing. You won’t see them grow old and do old people things and live happily ever after. And no new show will ever be as great… oh but that show looks decent…

And finally, Stage 5: Acceptance

It’s finally time for the final season of your show to start. It’s real to you now. The actors are starting to talk about their new projects. It’s real. And you’re gonna be okay. You’ve seen some previews of new shows and they look like something you could be into. If you’re into online fandom, you realize that you all have each other and you’re not going anywhere. And you have months of interviews and Behind the Scenes tweets and instagram videos from the cast because they’re feeling nostalgic. And maybe if you’re lucky,  your favorite cast member will be on their way to playing Hedwig on Broadway.

So buck up, you’ve been through this before, I’m sure. And yeah, sometimes Ted ends up with Robin for no reason and you regret the past nine years. And sometimes you get to see Leslie Knope live her dream with her friends. You get to see an auditorium dedicated to Finn Hudson. There will always be another show to obsess over. I mean, everyone’s in love with Empire, right?