How Many Seasons are too Many? How Many Seasons are too Many?
BY DARIAN SABLON Be it a comedy, crime drama or talk show, everyone has that special show, the one that’s on every Friday at... How Many Seasons are too Many?



Be it a comedy, crime drama or talk show, everyone has that special show, the one that’s on every Friday at 8 p.m. and makes one giddy with happiness. Personally, mine was the crime drama The Mentalist, every Sunday at 10 p.m., and after 7 seasons of pure suspense and drama, the ending credits finally came, ending a chapter in my life. After recently binge watching a number of shows of different lengths, some a single season while others dragged on for six or seven, I’ve gone back to The Mentalist and other shows I’ve watched and started wondering: were all 7 seasons of The Mentalist truly that perfect? Or was I suffering from post Phantom Menace syndrome, where I was in denial of how bad something truly was? So, join me as we try to answer the question, “How many seasons is too many for a show” by exploring 3 classic shows: Community, The Office and my favorite, The Mentalist.


Community-6 Seasons (2009-2015)


Community revolves around witty and charming ex-lawyer, Jeff Winger (Joel McHale), trying to get his license back after it was revoked by attending the infamous community college of Greendale. Along the way he forms a ragtag study group and ends up not only learning about himself but what it truly means to be a friend


Community had a stellar cast consisting of stars like Chevy Chase, Joel McHale, Donald Glover,

Yvette Nicole Brown, Gillian Jacobs, Danny Pudi and Alison Brie. The cast members had great chemistry with each other, especially Donald Glover and Danny Pudi as Troy and Abed respectively, complementing each other and in the end basically becoming one character. Yet this was soon to fall apart as Chevy Chase and Donald Glover would soon leave, leaving a big hole in Community that couldn’t be easily filled; although the studio would soon fill the casting space left by Chase and Glover, the wound left by their departure would never truly heal, especially since the new cast members didn’t have the same chemistry as they did. Another problem that started appearing was the reusing of old ideas. Community was known for having a diverse format – one episode could be a western while the episode that could be a stop-motion Christmas Special, always keeping the show fresh and the jokes hilarious. But around Season 4 and into Season 5, the show started to feel a little stale and that jokes from the earlier seasons were being recycled, as if the show creators were running out of steam. On top of that, add the fact that the cast members seemed bored, and, honestly, after 5 years, one would expect to get bored. With so many negatives against the show, Community had lost its steam and needed to be put into the archives when Season 5 had ended. But the studio continued and gave the green light for a Season 6. Against the odds, the show creators gave a fitting end to an amazing show, understanding that if they had gone any farther, the show would have fallen onto itself and ended in self-parody.


The Office- 9 Seasons (2005-2013)


The Office was something new. After the intense popularity of sitcoms like Friends, The Office was a breath of fresh air. The Office is an American-adaption of a British show with the similar name, revolving around the company of Dunder-Mifflin, and its staff in a documentary style format. Along with big name star Steve Carrell are Jenna Fischer, John Krasinski, Rainn Wilson  and Mindy Kaling among others making up a stellar cast of actors and actresses. After an okay first episode, The Office skyrocketed and became an instant comedy classic, revolving around the challenges of working in a paper company and dealing with people who you wouldn’t want to interact with outside of work. In fact, there are a lot of similarities between The Office and Community. You have a stellar cast of actors who have great chemistry with each other, helping create sense of pure enjoyment for the audience and a different formats compared to other shows (although technically Community had a different format in each episode and The Office kept the documentary format till the end). The Office also fell into the same boat as Community around the 7th season, falling into a sense of boredom for both the audience and the cast members. But unlike Community, The Office kept on going past its expiration date, the studio deciding that it was just a little “show fatigue”. Well, when The Office entered its 8th season, that’s when it all started going downhill, the cast becoming bland and the jokes being equally as bad, not having that same spark as they did in earlier mostly due to the fatigue between both the audience and the cast and after its 9th season finally ended, one couldn’t help but give a sigh of relief, it was over.


The Mentalist- 7 Seasons (2008-2015)

Up to now we’ve examined only comedies, but they aren’t the only ones to suffer for show exhaustions. The Mentalist was a crime drama revolving around Mentalist Patrick Jane (Simon Baker) as he helps the California Bureau of Investigation (CBI) as a consultant, while at the same time trying to find the serial killer Red John, the man who killed Jane’s wife and daughter, in a game of cat and mouse. The show was innovative, helping (along with other crime shows) the age of consultant crime dramas. The Mentalist was always above any other of the other crime specials, for me especially, by having not only a stellar cast but also innovative writing, helping create suspenseful scenes between not only Jane and the CBI, but also Jane and the occasional times when he faced Red John. The mystery of Red John was also another interesting factor that helped The Mentalist separate itself from other shows, keeping an aurora of mystery around the show and keeping Jane and the CBI always on their toes as Red John constantly tricked them. Yet the show would never only focus on Red John and always gave the “the mystery of the week,” a format almost all crime shows follow and a format that could easily get really boring and repetitive. The mystery of who Red John was and the chemistry between the cast members always kept the show fresh. Yet every mystery must come to the end and Jane soon found and killed Red John. Instead of ending it there, the show gave Jane a second chance at a new life away from Red John, in the end accepting the deal from the FBI to become their consultant, starting a new chapter in Jane’s life with untold potential. End. Except no, The Mentalist felt that it had to drag out to its 7th season, reverting purely back to the “mystery of the week” and filling the space where Red John used to be with useless drama . Honestly, the format of “mystery of the week” was getting stale around Season 5 but The Mentalist managed to stay alive with the promise of revealing who Red John was. But after that, The Mentalist lost its touch and relied on old gimmicks and mysteries that were easily and basically recycled version of previous mysteries in earlier seasons

So after analyzing these shows, what does the average expiration date seems to be for shows? 5 seasons seems to be the average before a show starts falling apart. Is this to say that all shows need to be 5 seasons? Obviously not, some shows are so good that they last almost 30 seasons (*cough cough* Doctor Who*cough cough*). But sometimes shows live on because the fandom is so loyal, that a show can live past its expiration date. Whatever a show’s fate proves to be we can be sure that, T.V. is a place where creative minds can grow and fade away.