When Do You Give Up on a Television Show?

When Do You Give Up on a Television Show?

I've had it. I'm done. I tried, I really tried, but it's not for me. I'm abandoning HBO's series The Leftovers after four episodes. The show's storyline about the mysterious disappearance of 2% of the population, and about the tortured lives of those who remain, wasn't holding my attention and left me feeling unsettled and frustrated with its moody indulgences.  Like those two percenters who went somewhere, I'm tapping out. 

I had expected to like the new series. It's HBO, after all, and the show has the juicy Sunday night slot, perfectly poised to fill the True Detective and Mad Men void. Based on a novel by Tom Perrotta, it has good people behind and on the scene (Justin Theroux, Amy Brenneman, Liv Tyler and Ann Dowd, among others.)

I gave it four episodes. Four dreary, meandering, lackluster, poorly written episodes. Now I wish I had stopped at two. When do you throw in the towel on a new show?

Justin Theroux in The Leftovers
Image: HBO

Sometimes it does take a while for a show to catch wind or become a favorite program. It can be the audience's issue. The Wire, perhaps the greatest episodic television show ever created, can be daunting and hard to fall in love with at first. "Stick with it," we encourage our Wire-virgin friends, those lucky souls with all of that glorious television ahead of them. Or sometimes it's the series and it takes a show several episodes to find a groove. Season 2 of Orange is the New Black is gaining many fans who were critical of the first season as the characters deepen and the storylines feel less centered around Piper. 

I'm giving up on the mystery of The Leftovers because I just don't care yet, and I sense that the payoff of The Leftovers isn't worth the pain. There is a wealth of great television competing for my attention. I'll probably hear about the resolution of The Leftovers on social media, or I'll look it up on Wikipedia for some random reason some day down the road. At this point, it feels like that is good enough. 

I could be wrong.  Are you sticking with The Leftovers and can sell me on why I should stay too? Have you departed from any shows you thought you would like? How did you know it was time to go?

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