5.16.2006

Jumping the Shark

Back when Fonzie, donning swim trunks and water skis, jumped over a great white shark, television viewers everywhere knew that "The Fonz" wasn't the only one going downhill. Happy Days was also on a downward spiral. It had literally jumped the shark in a desperate attempt to win back viewers. Instead of shoring up ratings, however, the episode symbolized the sinking of a once popular comedy show.

Come to think about it... all of my old favorite TV shows figuratively "jumped the shark." When Sam and Diane finally hooked-up, Cheers jumped the shark. When Suzanne Sommers left the house, Three's Company jumped the shark. When they moved from Milwaukee to Los Angeles, Lavern and Shirley jumped the shark. Inevitably, it seems there comes a point with all television shows in which viewers decide the show is no longer worth watching.

As with television, so it goes with relationships--or does it? I can't help but wonder if all relationships are destined to reach a climax. While I find myself happy and content in my current relationship, I worry that some day Max and I will jump the shark. Based on past dating trends, the possibility seems likely. With former partners, there came a defining incident where I realized that the relationship was not only on the decline, but also had reached a point of no return. Is this shark-jumping phenomenon unique to me?

In television, jump-the-shark moments usually fall into a three major categories--the storyline becomes too unbelievable or outlandish, a main character leaves the show, or something or someone is introduced that changes the show's dynamics. When I compare these categories to the major reasons why relationships fail, I find similarities. But what is even more disconcerting is that a show doesn't have to bite to experience its demise. Even high-quality shows jump the shark. These shows simply make the mistake of staying on television too long as the interest in them wanes. Seinfeld may have beat the odds by ending at the height of its popularity, but this hardly gives me reason for hope.

Any hope for the hopeless? Do you think all relationships will inevitably jump the shark? And if not, why not? Any advice on how I can to sustain the momentum required to take the Max and Mandy show from first run to syndication?

6 comments:

mollymcmommy said...

you know i just didn't realize that re tv shows, you are so right. when people hook up and are happy and the whole climax part is done, the show folds.

bah, not fair.

as for not folding a relationship. ummm, i'm not really sure, sometimes a little bit of luck and karma maybe??!! LOL!

keep things fresh, keep things fun, try new things together, fight (sounds weird to fight, but it means you still care, still feel kwim?) obviously don't fight to excess! LOL!

m

Grins said...

I think it does happen in many relationships but that it doesn't have to. I've seen relationships go through ups and downs and still manage to find themselves in the "up" swing again. As for you and Max, try to enjoy it and not overanalyze it as we women tend to do. That should help keep you from jumping the shark as Fonzie so foolishly did.

Anonymous said...

I agree with "Grins." As long as you both stay interested in...and committed to...one another, life *doesn't* have to imitate washed-up sit-coms and dramas...thank goodness. I personally know a few couples who've been together for decades, but they still have that "debut episode" quality in their relationships...so I think there is indeed hope. :-)

utenzi said...

Diane! You're one month into this curren relationship with Max. It's way too early for any normal person to be even considering issues like Jumping the Shark. That said, let's talk about you. LOL

You do give off a certain entertain me vibe that some--not me, of course--might consider high maintenance. Poor Max! But if Max is up to keeping you entertained, Diane, I think the two of you could last forever. And a day!

utenzi said...

BTW, the jump the shark moment on Cheers was when the evil Kirstie Alley joined the show, not when Diane and Sam shacked up. But I admit the writing did tighten up once Shelly Long was gone.

Cheetarah1980 said...

Soap operas. Soaps stay on the air forever (well not counting Another World, Ryan's Hope, Port Charles, and others). Maybe some relationships are like primetime. They're great until someone jumps the shark and then they end. Other relationships are like daytime dramas. They get really good, then they get downright dismal, then someone dies, but their body isn't found, so they come back from the dead, and then your sister sleeps with him and has his baby, then you find out your sister isn't really your sister, and basically it keeps going on and on and on, just like that. But hey, at least it never ends.