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The Grinder and the One Season Show Syndrome

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What comes to mind when you think of a show that’s been canceled after one season? In most cases, I assume that the show is terrible, unwatchable, and not worth my time. Besides, aren’t we all looking for a multi-season show to satisfy our binge watching needs for months (or weeks, or days…)?

In some cases, the one season show dies in its time, but lives on for new fans, becoming a cult-classic. Two shows come to mind as “one season flops” turned “iconic cult classics:” Judd Apatow’s Freaks and Greeks and Joss Whedon’s Firefly.

Freaks and Geeks, canceled after just twelve of the eighteen episodes had aired, follows Lindsey and Sam Weir as they navigate high school in a small town in the eighties. The show traces Lindsey’s attempt to break free from her previous “geek” status by joining a band of rebellious “freaks.” The show is charming and funny. It
boasts the start of the mega-star careers of James Franco, Seth Rogen, and Jason Segel.

Firefly, canceled after just eleven episodes, is a sci-fi series set in 2517. While I have never seen this show, the very reliable Wikipedia tells me that the show follows a group of people living on the fringe of society after losing a civil war. After its cancellation, the post-airing success led to the creation of the 2005 film Serenity, which continues the story of the original series.

This brings us to The Grinder. The show popped up on my “recently added” tab on Netflix and, spotting the handsome and hilarious Rob Lowe as the title character, I Googled. Discovering the show was cancelled after only one season inclined me to forgo watching the series, but the show’s positive critical reception and, again, Rob Lowe, convinced me to give it a shot.

Meet Dean Sanderson: a TV star coming off of an eight-year run on a Suits-esque legal melodrama called The Grinder. Sanderson moves home to Idaho in hopes of joining his younger brother Stewart’s law firm, believing that his television experience makes him qualified to practice law.

In response to Stewart’s claims that he cannot practice law, Dean asks: if you were having a heart attack, would you rather have one in front of McDreamy or some guy who never played a doctor on television?

The Grinder openly mocks traditional tropes of television, including but not limited to the “will they, won’t they” dynamic, the “sideline story,” and the big finish. Each show begins with a clip from the show within the show, unapologetically mocking melodrama. This show is built for the true TV fan, well-versed in recognizing and being ready to laugh at the comic manipulation of classic clichés. With guest stars Jason Alexander (George from Seinfeld), Maya Rudolf, and Timothy Olyphant (Raylan Givens on Justified) alongside many other familiar faces, The Grinder is a charming reminder of why we love TV.

Signing off from The Grinder, Rob Lowe tweeted:


Will The Grinder slip into one season oblivion, or will it/does it deserve to live on with the likes of Freaks and Geeks and Firefly?

You decide! Check out all three series on Netflix.

Yours Creatively,
Raquel Simpson
Online Contributor

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