The epidemic of TV show revivals is running rampant, and there’s no way to stop it. People love them. Many are successful. This outbreak cannot be contained; its power gets stronger by the week. I want it to stop, but I know it won’t. It can’t.
Take the ratings success of the “Roseanne” revival, which are so undeniable that the President himself commented on them. I know there have already been 500 “think pieces” written about “Roseanne.” They’re fascinating to a degree. But this won’t be one of them.
Think of this more as an “un-think piece.”
While there are a number of high-profile revivals already in existence (“Fuller House,” “The X-Files” and “Will & Grace,” to name but a few), there are loads of shows that have either announced or have mentioned the possibility of getting the revival treatment.
Just about any show that was popular at one point in time is subject to revivalism. Nostalgia has its place, and it’s no doubt a huge factor in why these revivals are so popular. But this has gotten way out of control, Oprah-style. “You get a revival! You get a revival! Everybody gets a revival!”
One article from a site called CheatSheet listed at least 17 shows with swirling rumors of potential revivals. Among them are “30 Rock,” “The Office,” “Malcolm in the Middle” and “Freaks and Geeks” (a super terrible idea). Judd Apatow and Tina Fey have both left the possibility open, saying revivals could happen.
To revisit an old show is akin to reconnecting with an old friend you haven’t seen in years. It’d probably be a good experience, sure. But reconnecting with an old friend presents the off-chance that your friend, who used to be cool, now sucks. There’s a chance that you might not recognize your friend, that you might not like them anymore. They’ve changed, or perhaps you have.
What is the need people have to revisit old experiences and shows? What are we trying to recapture?
From the perspective of the studio brass, I get it: They’re greedy and unimaginative, allergic to any sliver of originality. That’s cool.
But why do the creators of these shows do it? Money (don’t you have enough)? Getting the gang back together (really)? Nostalgia (come on)?
Some revivals make sense, as in, they were instituted to bring back shows that were struck down prematurely by the fickle nature of ratings. “Family Guy” and “Futurama” were good examples of this circa the late ‘90s to early 2000s. “Arrested Development” being revived for a fourth season by Netflix after the original run ended after a truncated third season. These revivals I get.
Revivals of shows that ended in this decade makes less sense.
I thought there were some unwritten rules to nostalgia, namely, that time should play a huge role. “I Love the ‘80s” makes sense. “I Love the 2010s-2015s” makes a lot less sense. So, I just don’t get the desire to see shows that ended in that particular time frame get revived. I like “Parks and Rec,” “The Office” and “30 Rock” as much as the next person, but I also think there’s incredible value in letting things simply end.
Despite all the shows getting the revival treatment, there have been some notable omissions.
Let’s go way back. “Happy Days.” The Fonz and Richie Cunningham sitting in the diner, talking about their hip replacements, about how everything sucks, how everyone’s dead. You could call it “Happy Days: The Sad Days.” Henry Winkler and Ron Howard would be game for that. It’d be familiar, yet different, at the same time.
As of right now, no “Salute Your Shorts” from the old school Nickelodeon days? No “Perfect Strangers?” What about “MASH?” How could people forget about “Northern Exposure?” How about “Family Matters?” You only need two characters for that one: Carl Winslow and Steve Urkel (OK, maybe also Waldo Geraldo Faldo). Most importantly, I’m not hearing anything about an “ALF” revival.
Personally, there’s no show that I’d want to see get a revival. Call me a jerk, a cantankerous old coot or whatever.
I love my TV, but I also love the idea of letting shows have their proper, organic endings.