The following conversation took place recently between this reporter and a spokesperson for the R.A. after that organization took the controversial step of imposing a limit of eight years (two presidential terms) on any television series.
Reporter: Why did you do this?
RA: The constitution sets a limit of two four-year terms for anyone to occupy that office. It's worked out fairly well. Dynasties are avoided, and people put in that position can get a little crazy over eight years of that kind of power. The position can isolate one from reality, disconnect one from any feeling of accountability. The framers realized this after dealing with George the Third.
The same thing happens with TV shows when they go on beyond a certain reasonable limit. They get tired, or loopy, or irrelevant. That's why we have done this.
Rep: I don't quite get the connection. Can you give me some examples? Help me out here.
RA: Sure. Consider first 'Seinfeld', a very popular show that ran nine seasons, and compare it to the FDR administration. People either loved them or hated them both. Most of the people that hated the two series were conservatives.
Rep: I get why conservatives didn't like FDR, but why were they turned off by 'Seinfeld'?
RA: I suspect they saw too much of George's character in themselves and were made uncomfortable by it. Also, the 'Master of My Domain' plot line made them squirm. Anyway, 'Seinfeld' quit just in time to avoid boring the populace.
Rep: O.K. Give me another.
RA: 'The Sopranos' and Bill Clinton. 'The Sopranos' went six years and ended appropriately. If the Clinton administration had run out after six years we could have curtailed the prolonged embarrassment of that Lewinski business.
Rep: I kind of see where you're going with this. How about one more comparison, one that will really strike a chord?
RA: 'Lost' and the George W. Bush administration. They both had a fairly popular first year and both went totally off the rails in subsequent years with misleading plot lines, loose ends and curveballs galore. Both series should have cancelled early.
Rep: How about 'True Blood' and the Obama administration?
RA: Well, they both started with a lot of promise. Some second thoughts have arisen in the minds of reasonable people with the surfeit of disparate characters and confusing plot lines emerging in both series. Not to burst anybody's bubble, but eight years of anything should be enough. Things fall apart.
Rep: "The center cannot hold"?
RA: There is no center, not anymore.