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Alena Dillon

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The Heartache of a Television Serial Dater

Posted: 02/26/2013 6:18 pm

Finishing a television series feels like the end of a relationship. There's that same dull ache in your chest, knowing that the characters aren't part of your life anymore. No more late nights lying on the couch together after a long day. No more shared adventures. All that's left are your memories and reruns.

Last night, 24 and I concluded things once and for all. Over. Finale. It probably should have ended at least a season earlier, when Jack started hanging out with guys like Freddie Prinze Jr. with his fake New York accent that didn't crop up until episode two, but it seems that all serious relationships never end as soon as they should. It's too hard to say goodbye, so it gets renewed for another year.

Although I saw our breakup coming for a while, it was still every bit as difficult as I expected it would be. I believe it's for the best since I probably sacrificed too much of my life just to spend time at home with Jack, but I will miss his mysterious darkness, his insufferable angst, and his devotion to his country. I know he could never have been truly happy while we were together; he felt too much pressure to perform. But maybe now that we're apart, he can remember how to just be himself.

After the closing scene, when the laptop screen went black and, in the silence, I prepared to deal with my emotions, my husband turned to me and said, "So, what now? Want to try Bones?"

What a typical man. He didn't need time to recover. The credits hadn't even finished rolling and he was ready to start on the next series. I'm surprised he didn't go ahead and suggest Rome, since what he really wanted was some action.

But I wasn't ready to start something new, to barrel through those first couple of episodes where you're just getting to know the characters, learning their names, their sense of humor, and their bad habits. It can be clumsy and uncomfortable, and if I begin a new series before I'm fully over the last one, I revert back to the faces I've grown to love. My nostalgia takes over. I'd go back to Jack, hoping it would be like it was. But of course, reruns never are.

Don't get me wrong, I know there will be other shows, but it's still too soon. They say it takes half the length of a relationship to really get over it so, since 24 was eight seasons of twenty-four hours, I think I at least deserve to mourn for four days -- four days where I just take time off from the whole television thing and really concentrate on my own life. Take long baths, do yoga, cook. It's during this space that I'll process the show, examine Jack's character arc, the mistakes he made, and yes, I'll remember the good times too. I know I'll want to reach out to Jack, maybe re-watch the series premiere, but I'll resist. It's crucial to have a clean break. Eventually, I'll reach closure, and maybe consider The Closer.

But first I'll need a rebound show -- probably some shallow sitcom that everybody has watched -- trust me, right now, I don't need drama -- and then maybe after a few episode flings, I'll be ready to begin something steady. Even when there is another protagonist in my life, Jack will always have a special place in my heart.

This is probably my most painful TV breakup. I thought splitting up with Lost was going to destroy me but, toward the end, it just didn't satisfy me anymore. Nothing so complicated could have ended smoothly; it had made more promises than it could keep. The main reason for my disappointment, of course, was that, in retrospect, Lost was never what I thought it was. There are still fond memories, though: the desperation for our next meeting, the constant surprises, and the existential examinations. The truth is, it's better to have loved Lost than to never have loved at all.

The Sopranos ending allowed for zero closure, so I just jumped blindly into True Blood, but that was a mistake and didn't work out because it was into some dark things.... sexually. It ended after only one episode.

Friends was true love. It was always so comforting and easy. We lounged and laughed for ten good years. Sometimes we cried, but then Monica would put on her fat suit or Joey would eat an entire pizza and we laughed again. I just couldn't let it end, so I made an exception and bought the series on DVD. Only in this case could I settle for Friends with benefits.

Losing Prison Break was pretty ugly because Michael Schofield died (rest in peace), and so unexpectedly. On the other hand, maybe that helped me move on, knowing there was no way we could have stayed together for another season. Against all odds, Jack Bauer didn't die. He chose to leave. Even though it was for his own good, that's still difficult to accept.

This was also the longest relationship I've ever had with a series. I think the hardest part will be finding ways to fill the time we spent together. I hope it rains later so I can perch at my window and gaze out at the storm longingly, wondering where Jack is and what he's doing. Does he finally have enough time? If not, do people at least appreciate the rush he is in? Tonight I'll probably lean on my Friends and eat half a gallon of frozen yogurt straight out of the carton. Hey, it's my right. I'm going through a breakup.

 

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