Well, another Season of Basketball Wives is behind us, which brings me to the topic of endings.
Episodes. Seasons. Series. Everything ends sometime… but when is it right to sew things up completely and when should you instead opt for the cliffhanger out?
This is a trick question. Always go with the cliffhanger.
I’ve tried ending shows, seasons and series with cheery thoughts about new starts, resolved conflicts, and moving forward, but it never sticks and I crumble before network “let’s not tie this up so neatly” notes like a peach halvah. Wrapping everything up in a bow closes the doors to spinoffs, surprise orders of yet another season (which requires the momentum of a past controversy to kick off), and doesn’t leave the audience much to think about.
Tidy send-offs also mean that cast members we know and love are, for all practical purposes, suddenly transformed into something other than the conflicted, three-dimensional people we’ve come to know.
For example: The Hills wrapped with a joke reveal that implied the whole show had been produced on a studio lot. Way to expend what remained of the trust of your audience, guys! At least when The Osbournes ended a season ten years before with Ozzy “flubbing” his “I love you all, I love you more than life itself, but you’re all f*cking mad” line in an is-it-or-isn’t-it-fake blooper, you were in on the joke and Ozzy didn’t suddenly turn into Cary Grant and exclaim “Well, that was exhausting. I’m off to the club.” Sure, we all half-knew in our hearts that The Hills was mostly phony — especially after Lauren Conrad went on The View and blabbed about the phone call where both sides had been shot at different times — but since you told us, it’s all ruined like the cake somebody left out in the rain at MacArthur Park.
So when you’re trying to decide whether to end your season on a bunch of people hugging it out and looking forward to the future or an angry housewife flipping furniture over and screaming about no one’s seen the last of her, always go for the latter. As the show business adage goes, “Always leave them wanting more.”