Why So Many American TV Shows Collapse in a Death Spiral

“All American TV shows have this issue with very few exceptions, and it’s because of the way TV syndication and funding works: Nobody knows how the goddamn things are going to end. The goal of these shows, near as I can tell, is to establish a viewer base and then exist. That’s it. Survive as long as possible and do nothing more than keep those viewers. It’s not about providing an audience with a brilliant story, well-told. It’s about keeping the people who work on the show employed. It results in a serious lack of direction and a shit ton of filler episodes. The episodes nobody likes. Sometimes these shows get off the ground with little more than a concept (Terra Nova). If you’re airing the pilot before you have finished penning the script for the season finale, you’re screwed. If you’re airing the pilot without a rough outline of how the entire show is going to finish, it’s going to be a miasmic mess of ideas and half-finished plots. … If it were up to me, no TV show would make it to greenlight without a complete outline of the entire season at least, episode by episode, and a loose outline of exactly how long the show will run and where it ends up. Anything else is just marking time to a great big apathetic whimper of a conclusion that has to eke out what it can from the corner it’s been written in to.”