Some Gen X/Millennial cultural pathology stems from two qualities of the stories we were told in childhood, at the peak of the television era, all those cartoons. First, the creative folks hired to make them were getting systematic about using effective storytelling formulas (even if they were just emulating George Lucas) so these shows got under our skin no matter how cheap and crude they otherwise were. Second, the stories were left incomplete because they were toy ads and no-one financing or broadcasting them cared, so we never got closure.
This festered into the trashy haunted yearning at work in the nostalgia of the last 15 years, a thermobaric consumerism so slick and poisoned that even the remakes (and remakes of remakes) now feel like they're going in circles internally. Built so that they're always Zeno-ing in on closure without getting there.
All this came to mind again because, as Ted Giola writes, audiences are finally getting sick of it in a big way. Streaming giants have brought the Shiternal Return to grown-up TV, Hollywood studios to its superhero "universes", and game publishers to their cash-cow franchises. Nothing ends; it's all just left to rot in our heads.
Viewers are upset at TV series getting cancelled with the major plot points unresolved. This happens again and again—it's almost the norm nowadays. Industry insiders fear that audiences are now reluctant to commit to new shows for this very reason….
Of course, our entire culture is now built on stories without closure.
Hollywood is so obsessed with sequels, prequels, reboots, and spinoffs that they can't afford to let any good story come to an end.
How far can they push this? We may soon find out.