I jumped the shark

TV shows invariably feel the need to mess with the formula.  They have to reinvent themselves to "freshen things up."  Happy Days introduced Fonzie as an analog of Brando in The Wild One, but over the course of the series, the character morphed from an edgy punk to an unthreatening joke.  Cultural critics pinpoint the precise moment the show tanked (in terms of quality if not ratings just yet) when Fonzie (on water skis no less, not a motorcycle) jumps a shark.  The show had become a parody of itself, and there was no turning back.

The most frequent mistake tv shows make is to introduce the cute new character when the group's make-up turns too homogeneous for the writers to extract any more fresh material.  Rudy grew up, so the Huxtable family inexplicably brought Olivia on board.  That liberal gang on Family Ties somehow forgot their birth control and views on abortion, and inexcusably brought baby into the household.  Rosanne did the same.  And don't you want to just choke the network stiff who thought Scrappy-Doo would be an improvement to the series?

Team D'n'A used to be a couple of urban explorers who knew how to throw a kick-ass, no-kids-allowed Halloween party.  We could rock the fuck out of a karaoke bar or hit Rocky Horror whenever we wanted.  I don't even post a lot of the things we've done.  Most of our friends are still single and/or childless (or "child-free" as one of them put it).  Collectively, we do what we want.  We don't have curfews.

I've always been ambivalent about having kids.  I find them intellectually interesting, but I couldn't bring myself to be anything but cold and distant toward them.  When we decided to have a baby, it was less because we were dying to have one than that we were getting to the "now-or-never" age.  We've watched friends spend $10,000 a pop on multiple IVF treatments.  At this point we still had time to give it a shot naturally before we would be forced to go that route.  So we did.  Turns out we're pretty damn fertile.  Call me the one-shot wonder.

Everyone tells you everything changes when you have your own kid.  It's so vague and trite that you roll your eyes when you hear it.  Even at your baby shower.  But it's true.  I never used to handle babies.  Anyone's.  I turned down offers to hold anyone's kid.  When they passed a new one around the room, I opted out.  The first time I held a baby in the last four years was when they handed me a freshly-cleaned Stanley in the OR to carry over to his mom.

We jumped the shark.  We did.  We added the cute and cuddly character.  The whole cast got soft, even the edgy guy who says "fuck" all the time.  But that's okay.  We're a family show now.

Copyright 2009 Alexplorer.
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