The Trouble With Sequels~Featuring Why I Don’t Typically Like TV Shows

Good day, chums!

Today I am going to be rambling about how sick I am of sequels, why sequels are finicky beasts to begin with, and why this ties into the fact that I don’t like TV shows as a species.

As you can tell, the tone of this post is probably going to be rather negative. But never fear! If it gets too depressing you can stop whenever you wish and go find yourself a muffin. Just make sure it’s not poisoned before you eat it.

Let’s get rambling, shall we?

Why am I sick of sequels?

Well, simply put, there are just so stinkin’ many of them. (I borrowed that descriptive adjective from my sister.)

They appear around every corner, like zombies.  There’s no escaping them. They multiply and spread like an unstoppable disease plaguing cinemas and bookstores worldwide. It’s a global disaster.

sequels versus world

Okay, I’m being a little overly dramatic here, but you get the idea.

Some sequels are fantastic, don’t get me wrong, but some stories DO NOT NEED sequels. And yet, 90% of the time they get landed with them anyway, and what a misfortune that is.

If someone puts whipped cream on your ice cream you will probably thank them but if someone puts whipped cream on your pizza you might feel like punching them in the face.

Some stories need whipped cream. Others do not.

As you can see, I am in a metaphorical mood today. Whether or not the metaphors actually make any sense is another matter entirely.

What makes sequels so hard to pull off?

There are multiple reasons for this. One being that filmmakers and writers often try to stick sequels onto stories that don’t need them. But this is not the only reason that sequels often fail to live up to the originals. Here are a few others…

1) Great Expectations

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Some stories really can be complimented by sequels. Maybe the story wasn’t finished yet, or there is a natural avenue for expansion. But even when the audience wants a sequel, they are often disappointed by it.

Why?

For one thing, once a book or a movie or a stage production is already out there, it’s begun to take on a life of its own. Or rather, the audience has started to adopt all the characters as their children and form all sorts of expectations about the world and what everyone should/shouldn’t do next.

This problem isn’t as glaring with a new story, because the audience is just learning about the characters and the world for the first time, and if they don’t like it they just decide it wasn’t their type of thing. They don’t necessarily blame the creators of the story.

But a sequel is different. The audience has had time to form an idea of the characters and the world. They’ve meditated on the events that have occurred and become comfortable with the story. The original creators gave the story life, but the audience has taken some ownership of it. They have their own ideas now.

So a sequel is treading dangerous waters.

Sometimes the author of the book or the director of the film has a completely different idea of where the story is going. And this can leave the audience feeling somewhat betrayed. Even though in reality the creators have done nothing wrong. It’s their story and they are telling it the way they want to.

That doesn’t stop us from getting bitter sometimes though.

2) Say “When”

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Another thing that can become problematic is the number of sequels.

Some stories merit sequels, but the questions then arises, how many? As a storyteller, how do you know when you’ve come to the end?

It is a difficult puzzle indeed.

Sometimes the first few sequels are good, and then the story just starts to flounder. The movie makers or the authors keep churning out more, because we keep consuming them.

But after the fifth bag of cheese puffs when you’ve started feeling sick, you start to wonder, “wait, why I am doing this?”

Learning when to say that enough is enough is a crucial skill to learn. A key element of any good piece of art, be it a movie, a book, a painting, etc, is to know when you are finished with it. It’s tricky, because it’s never going to be perfect, but at a certain point it might start to get worse if you keep adding to it.

3) “It’s so heavy, Sam.”

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The closer Frodo got the Mordor, the heavier the Ring became.

I am now going to draw a brilliant metaphor from this.

With most stories, a sequel has to expand the world, and develop the characters on an increasingly deeper level. The stakes have to get higher.

The bigger the story gets, the closer you get to Mordor, and the heavier the Ring gets.

See what I did there?

Some characters and worlds hold up brilliantly under this kind of pressure. In fact, they excel. But others buckle under the weight and eventually collapse. I’m sure you’ve all read or watched series’ like this. It is most grievous indeed.

How this ties into my prejudice against TV shows

You may be surprised to hear that I dislike the whole concept of TV shows. Especially considering the topic of my last blog post.

TV shows as a species are set up for failure, as far as storytelling goes. Networks churn out season after season until they inevitably begin to flounder, and then as the popularity of the show goes down, they eventually cancel the show.

Actually I don’t know how accurate this is, but this is what it looks like from an outsider’s point of view. I honestly haven’t watched that many TV shows.

It’s essentially the sequel nightmare on caffeine. This is a terrible storytelling strategy because storytelling is not the first priority. The creators don’t have the whole thing planned from beginning to end. They aren’t going to tell the story they want to tell and then stop when they are finished. They are going to keep going until the show gets low ratings, or until their ideas dry up so completely that they have no choice.

I’m not saying there is actually anything wrong with doing this, and I know a lot of people love TV shows, but for me it doesn’t work. It inevitably ends in tragedy and disappointed as the stories spiral out of control.

This is why Netflix’s A Series of Unfortunate Events is something of an exception to the rule. They started out to make three seasons, and that’s what they did. They adapted the books, and when they got to The End they stopped. That may sound like common sense, but that’s not as common as you might think.

In a way, this makes this particular TV show more of a mini series. Which is totally fine with me.

In Conclusion

Ultimately, sequels and TV shows can be good if they are done well. But all too often the art of storytelling is not placed at the forefront and then terrible things happen.

There are so many bad and unnecessary sequels out there, but there are amazing ones too. Some stories need the expansion, and some are so intricate that they need multiple books/movies to tell them.

It’s not always easy to tell when enough is enough, and we can get bogged down by the over abundance of sequels that probably never needed to exist. It’s something that I grapple with as a writer as well. What is the story I am trying to tell and what is the best way to tell it? I am determined to keep storytelling as my priority, but that’s not always as easy as it sounds.

What is your view of sequels? Do you get tired of the number of sequels in existence? Do you agree or disagree with my reasons for why sequels are often disappointing, and do you have any more to add? Do you think that sometimes the need to pander to consumers robs storytelling of its integrity? What do you think about TV shows as a species? I would be thrilled to hear your thoughts on the subject!

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12 thoughts on “The Trouble With Sequels~Featuring Why I Don’t Typically Like TV Shows

  1. Yeah, sequels can be scary, but next to the prequel monster they don’t look so bad. 😦
    I think you’ve nailed the problem. It’s hard enough as a writer to know when to stop, but when publishers and filmmakers heap on the pressure because they want a share of the profit, it’s really no wonder we get so many unneeded sequels.
    Now I think my short comment is more negative than your whole post 😛

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes, there are a lot of prequels as well, though in general I actually prefer the idea of prequels to sequels. Probably because I am obsessed with backstory. But the trouble with prequels is that they often get a little carried away and lose sight of the fact that they are supposed to support the original story, not out-do it.
      Thanks! Yeah, it really is unfortunate.
      Haha, good job. 😉

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Yes, I agree that creating bad sequels to something good decreases in a way the goodness of the first thing. Because then when the first one comes up, the second one and how bad it is will sometimes come up too. I feel like if you do make a sequel to something that was very popular, take your time with it and make it good. Like Incredibles! And how I’m hoping Frozen 2 will be like also.
    Haha hm, TV shows as a species. I haven’t watched that many, but one example that would be good with this would be The Office- I haven’t watched all of it, but I’ve been told that the last few seasons aren’t good because Michael the main character leaves.
    I like your ring metaphor and the picture of the world compared to sequels. :))

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes! It’s definitely better to take your time with sequels. Don’t rush storytelling. Make it good.
      I haven’t really watched much of The Office, but having the main character leave sounds like a good sign that the show should have ended before that? Don’t just keep going because you can, people!
      Haha, thanks. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I like your metaphors!! Especially the LOTR one. It’s great when stories pull off the climaxes, but I recently read a couple sequel-less books which I loved, except that their endings felt rushed. I can’t really relate to your reasons though, maybe because I can’t vividly recall the sequels I’ve seen rn haha. As for your TV show part, it reminded me of my sadness about Designated Survivor and Scorpion getting cancelled 😆 I watch TV shows with my family, so I don’t mind them because we get a break from school and work together.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! I do tend to insert LOTR metaphors when at all possible. 😉 Oh yeah, I have experienced rushed endings too! I don’t like that either. Endings can be so tricky to get right. Sometimes I just wish a book was fifty pages longer, or that the author had expanded it into multiple books. Sometimes sequels are indeed needed!
      Haha, I am glad you do not carry as much fury towards TV shows as I do! Watching stuff with family is good. We often just watch movies rather than TV, which contributes to my bias. I am sorry that your shows got cancelled. 😦

      Like

  4. I totally agree!! I am sooo sick of sequels… My reasoning is slightly different (and also kind of silly), but I hate leaving series unfinished (even if I don’t really like the first book) and so I often read a lot of very average sequels. I think I probably need to get over this and only read sequels for books I enjoy but even those are sometimes super average. All I ask for is that if you give me an amazing first book, pleeeaaase give me an amazing second book! (And the same applies to TV series)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah, I know how that feels. I have gotten better, but I used to feel obligated to finish series’ even when they weren’t that amazing. I have taught myself how to give up. But what’s really terrible of course is when the first book is amazing and the sequel is NOT. Consistency of awesomeness is always appreciated!
      Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts!

      Like

  5. Aww I am SO opposite to you in this! 😂I love sequels and I love when authors get the opportunity to write them (bc honestly it’s not as cut and dry as we might think, and if a book doesn’t sell well, an author often doesn’t get to continue their story…breaks my heart tbh) and I LOVE TV shows because each episode feels like a chapter. *flails* I do get what you mean though about when things drag on …. I kind of am a bit over the Supernatural TV show lmao. 13 Seasons or something and it’s not really doing it for me anymore.😂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha, that’s great! I love how we all have such different perspectives on things. Ah, but I can definitely understand your point about sometimes authors not getting to have their sequels if the book didn’t do well! That is sad. If someone has a story to tell I think they should get a chance to tell it! Maybe I just need to get over my need to finish every series I start and then I won’t have this frustration, haha.
      Thank you so much for sharing your opinion!

      Like

  6. You made me laugh! I agree with you on so many points. But really, you think we can stop with the first few sequels? Like you said they ARE like cheeseballs, we are gonna watch them until we hate them all. WE WILL! I know I have a problem.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha, thanks! That is usually my intention. 🙂 Stopping is SO HARD. I think it’s kind of a problem we all struggle with, which is why the sequel epidemic is upon us. It would certainly be something if we could all figure out how to say “enough is enough” BEFORE we start getting sick. Like that will ever happen. 😉

      Like

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