With the Fall television season reaching the halfway mark, fans are in need of a shock-worthy turning-point to push them through the remainder of the current run. Usually, these game-changing elements are directly associated with episodic specials surrounding the unpredictable connections born from the holiday season, beginning with the Halloween-themed episode. However, with so many of the Fall’s popular crop of shows delving into the morbid, the haunting, the threatening, and the absurd; series’ writers will be scrambling to create a heightened level of audience anxiety seeking resolution throughout the remainder of the episodes. To truly create a sense of awe to draw viewers into the “All Hollow’s Eve” features and provide a sharp turn in direction of several ratings- approved series; a dose of reality will be the ultimate testament to create uncertainty in the idealistically certain worlds of unabashed violence and chaos. Below are example of the proposed mid-season dynamics surrounding the increased need for a memorable plot climax to add a new televised tradition for this time of year.
1. Sons of Anarchy– Jax loses a member of his inner circle: With the pivotal character and purveyor of all things violent, Jax Teller, creating an all encompassing war that doesn’t ever implode on his club, the viewer anxiety is enacted each episode; but eventually dissolves due to constant, predictable resolution within each scenario. Teller always makes it out of any altercation unscathed; even when he is brutally beat down by his mother’s protective boyfriend, Nero, along with Henry Lin of the Oakland Chinese Branch, he leaves without a scratch while the aforementioned are battered and bruised. To ground the series, and provide some absolute uncertainty to the fate of SAMCRO, one of Jax’s inner circle needs to be fatally harmed/ arrested. With the character, Chibbs, portraying Jax’s last paternal guide in the series, having him arrested by new girlfriend, Lieutenant Althea, in order to blackmail him into offering Club trade-secrets to the DA’s Gang Sector; or having him gunned-down by August Marks in protecting Jax from bearing the brunt of the MC’s betrayal, would change the course of Jax’s actions. Although his reaction may still be violent, the dose of reality will cause a teetering between understanding the benefit of revenge for innocence lost and seeking redemption for his personal loss of humanity.
2. American Horror Story– Elsa is faced with an external threat she cannot woe into her inner circle: Yes, I understand that Twisty (the menacing, re-occurring clown) would probably fit this bill, as he is a rogue individual- but he is not as harmfully realistic as a character she cannot sway with greed, glitz, and unbridled freedom. Plus, with most of the cast offering apparent fearful representation, which the audience readily accepts- along with most of the crew of Elsa’s “The Freak Show”- something this characteristic would fall flat as a climactic element. Thus, a Bible-thumper is just the probable threat that would unravel Elsa’s circle. As in most cases of scruple, a leader just as cynical as she, but offering eternal forgiveness and acceptance to the misfits conditions- rather than staging an act for entertainment- would tap into the innate desires each “freak” is trying to satisfy. Although, it is assumed the preacher utilizes the crew for creating a draw to his congregation, and making a case for increased funding to the church, the audience (knowing the darker nature of the series) is unsettled by the real, unstated reason for the holy man’s hijacking of the “Freak Show”. The fate of Elsa and her self-worth will be threatened, thus generating a realistic conflict to project the uncertainty of the clan, but the certainty of excellent ratings, moving forward.
3. How to Get Away with Murder– A True Foreshadowing to the Inevitable Reality: Throughout each episode, the criminally ridiculous, and explicitly guilty, is explored and declared innocent by the end of each episode- causing a sense of desensitization towards the corruption of the justice system. But, with the series filmed in Philadelphia- a hot-bed for murderous crime-, a show chronicling the flaws of the local judicial system, and offering cues to get off death’s row, is just asking for an increased strain of unsolved mysteries to arise. The “magic- bullet theory” has been disproven years back, but in a city haunted by homicide, the reality that the program’s cues will be absorbed by the pre-disposed is highly likely. As Halloween draws nearer, and the guidelines of the plot are becoming more pronounced, and the outline of reducing guilt more apparent, the ultimate shock to attract dedicated viewers won’t be on screen. The reality that a majority of recent violent MO’s are in direct relation to the show, will cause a shift in uncertainty of the televised characters resolution to that of Philadelphia’s realized citizens.
4. Modern Family– An Episode Depicting Familial Taboos that are Not Easily Accepted: The draw to this happy-go-lucky, family- friendly comedy is the fact that each representation of new- age familial dynamics are accepted with open arms, more or less. Thus, for a seasonal episode to add a level of relational taboos that aren’t amicably embraced at the end of the 1/2 hour , would add a realistic shock to the thread of the family-base. For instance, Claire’s daughter-Haley- should be portrayed dating an older man (circa late twenties/ early thirties) to coax recognition of the vastly felt truth that most Americans are uncomfortable with a strict age gap. Although viewers have accepted Gloria and Jay for their discrepancy in age, a relationships which involves a just legal teen with an older man is still not fully recognized- even though it is just as valid). Or, another suggestion is depicting the younger children experimenting with marijuana/ alcohol on dangerous levels. This would evoke true anxiety in the audience, along with a need to process the portrayal in further on-screen interactions rather than simply laugh it off as part of the show’s charm. Therefore, in generating a special dealing with an uneasy situation that needs further communication and understanding to resolve, would prove gasp-worthy as the program could then hone its pure honesty in seeking to break the traditional barriers of familial coping.
5. Grey’s Anatomy– Grey Offers Hope to Real Biological Threats: In former episodes of this long-running medical series, the on-screen doc’s have miraculously calm weekly anxieties by saving patients from all volatile conditions- including terroristic bombings, third degree burns on a patient lost in the Sahara Dessert for a month, to other terminal and pervasive medical conditions. However, the program has not been honest in portraying the true outcomes of these various violent and freak accidents, within their parameters of hope. Therefore, to add a spooky level of truth to the Fall Special of Grey’s, the actors should tackle the biological threat of Ebola in real terms of what is actively occurring, against a premonition for the future. The doctors should identify a case of Ebola, have it spread to the treating nurses (as it has in actuality), prove medical efforts futile; but then accurately create a quarantined environment which actively absolves the spread of the virus. The series should depict the shocking proof that all exposed to the virus are given a death sentence, but also indicate that this virus has been controlled before- and will be controlled again. Therefore, the greatest water cooler-worthy moment Grey’s will offer is one of medical recognization within their constant need to realize healing/hope.