MaHB / TV: Till Death Do They Part

Esquire Malaysia + Esquire Singapore, June 2014

Till Death Do They Part
Spoiler alert! TV shows are killing off major characters. Consider yourself warned.

By Sophia Goh

I blame Game of Thrones. It’s the show’s fault, because when Eddard Stark was shockingly beheaded in season one, it made it not just okay but also practically trendy for TV shows to kill off their major characters. If Game of Thrones, hands down one of the most admired TV shows on the planet, isn’t afraid to have a central character executed (as it turns out, Stark was simply the first in a long line of important casualties), everyone else should do the same – or how I imagine the theory goes.

Fans of The Good Wife know what I’m talking about. They suffered a heartbreaking loss not too long ago, when Will Gardner, the hit series’ male lead, was suddenly gunned down in a courtroom – and died. Everything happened so fast that it came as an even bigger shock to discover that Josh Charles, the actor who portrayed Gardner, had actually decided to leave the show a year earlier, and that the bosses, the writers, the cast and the crew had been secretly working up to this devastating twist for months. Who says there are no secrets in Hollywood? Slow clap, guys.

Gardner is just one of several shocking deaths recently in this bold, new TV landscape, in which no character, regardless of how important or popular, or whether their name appears on the door of the law firm where everything takes place, is safe. Homeland fans gawked in disbelief when main character Nicholas Brody (played by Damian Lewis) was publicly hanged in the finale of season three, and we were surely not alone in thinking right up to his very last breath that someone – or something, anything – would intervene and save his life. I also can’t believe that House of Cards’ Zoe Barnes (Kate Mara), so crucial in the first season, is no more – after the aspiring journalist was suddenly pushed in front of a moving subway train. Meanwhile, rewind a hundred years to Downton Abbey, and Matthew Crawley (Dan Stevens) has also croaked, no thanks to fatal injuries sustained in an automobile accident.

The theme for this issue is “the meaning of life”, which is ironic because “death” has been a recurring motif these past couple of months. Malaysia lost three truly bright stars in the passing of the beloved activist Irene Fernandez, veteran lawyer and politician Karpal Singh, and musician/Tune Studios CEO Jeremy Little, while, on a more personal note, I also lost a relative and a very dear friend. As a TV writer, I naturally sought some form of escape or solace in my favourite shows; but alas, while I definitely tried, it seemed there was no escaping the long shadow of the Grim Reaper, who loomed large, even when it came to the small screen. No one is safe anymore, least of all your favourite characters. Unless, of course, they’re from Game of Thrones, in which case they’re almost certainly going to die.

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