One of my favorite moments of a recent big romance writers’ convention was hearing an author passionately declaim: “But, sweetheart, I never promised you a ménage!”
This was in reference to a reviewer complaining of the lack, despite there being no mention of such a scene anywhere in the material promoting the story. It made me laugh (the author said it in good fun), but I also think it’s an excellent example of the expectations that a reader (or TV viewer) brings to the table, and how the fun can be shaken out of things when the subject matter takes a left-hand turn.
I remember once picking up what I thought (from the cover and back blurb) was a small-town contemporary romance, only to discover that it was a small-town contemporary romance with lots of paranormal elements. Now, I don’t have anything against paranormal romance (far from it!), but I was in the mood for warm fuzzies, not demons, so I set the book aside. Later, when I picked it up again, knowing what to expect, I enjoyed it just fine.
Or, going back a bit, there was the time I decided to go see a movie by myself. I was having an unusually bad week among a whole bunch of them, and wanted a pick-me-up. So, based on the previews and theater posters, which were heavy on the pink and rom-com tropes, I went to see My Best Friend’s Wedding. Which, for the record, is heavy on the angst and chest beating, and doesn’t have the HEA I was looking for. Was it a good movie? Maybe. But it sure wasn’t what I needed that day.
So what, you might ask, does this have to do with shark jumping? Well, there’s the infamous episode of Happy Days, in which the Fonz actually does (or tries to?)
motorcycle water ski jump (thanks to frykitty for the correction!) over a shark tank, and in the process rather than reviving the
franchise, spawns the term “jumping the shark” in reference to the moment when
something that was once great begins (or accelerates) its decline. (It’s thanks
to Arizona that I know this little tidbit, as I had always thought it was strictly
a metaphor. I had no idea someone actually had
jumped a shark until he clued me in.)
And then there’s last night … and Discovery Channel’s Megalodon. Blech.
Arizona adores Shark Week. He was also dinosaur-crazy as a kid, and would’ve made an awesome paleontologist. I’m more of a whales-and-dolphins person, but I love a well-done documentary. So we were looking forward to Shark Week 2013 kicking off with a two-hour documentary on shark fossils.
Only it wasn’t. It was a scripted, awkward mockumentary that tried to “prove” that Megalodons still exist today, and it didn’t have nearly enough disclaimers for my taste.
Why, you might ask, would a lover of Sharknado and MegaPirhana object to this? For the simple reason that those other schlock-fests are on the SyFy channel and don’t pretend to be something they’re not. And they’re not used to kick off a week of documentaries. (And, yes, some of those documentaries are rather lacking in scientific rigor, but that's a subject for another day...)
Maybe I was tired, maybe I was hormonal, maybe I just wasn’t in the mood, but I got really annoyed with Discovery Channel for breaking it’s (implicit) promise to me, just as My Best Friend’s Wedding had failed to be a chick flick, and that book I was talking about turned out to be a stealth paranormal. Will I watch the rest of Shark Week? Yes, though mostly because Arizona will want to. But I’ll definitely be doing a MST3000 on the reenactments and calling “bull” on the questionable science more than I usually do.
How about you? Shark Week or no Shark Week? Have you suffered from an entertainment bait-and-switch lately? How did you recover?