One happy ending to go, please

31 Jul

TVB’s latest courtroom drama The Other Truth concluded on Friday, and as a devotee of the series throughout its broadcast, there’s not much I can say about the ending but WTH?!

I’m sorry but I need closure. From the beginning to end, I’d been rooting for the main characters, Mavis and Keith to get together. The whole series had been gearing up for their union. It was obvious they had feelings for each other. He kissed her; she was okay with it. They kept gazing at each other. And then just like that, our hopes were dashed. What kind of stupid ending is that?

Not surprisingly, it set off a flurry of protests and complaints on the forums. Film the sequel asap! Forum members demanded furiously. Give Mavis and Keith a happy ending! With all the problems in the world, it’s quite amusing to see people taking a mere television series so seriously. Except I completely understand their frustrations.

TVB, just like any producer of mass culture perpetually churns out series that are standardised and repetitive in plot. Everything starts out nice and rosy for the characters and then a few episodes in, their lives are suddenly and dramatically turned upside down by third parties, miscommunication and falling-outs. Complications drag on for much of the duration of the series until the final episode when misunderstandings are wondrously cleared up and everyone is happy again. Yes, these endings are boring and predictable, but after so many years of being force-fed with them, the Hong Kong audience has been conditioned to expect them.

In fact, happy endings are so often taken for granted that when some scriptwriters attempt to be innovative, it is not normally well-received. I recall some years ago, when TVB aired the comedy series To Catch the Uncatchable, it ended with the lead character dying. As you might expect, this caused such uproar that TVB swiftly arranged for an alternate ending to be shown, in which ‘happy ever after’ is implied.

The good news though is that a sequel to The Other Truth is in the works, and the open ending leaves room for Mavis and Keith to develop their romance. Suppose they had gotten together in the finale, then what will become of them in the sequel? Most likely, they would’ve been subjected to the TVB formula once again: They argue, they break up, they date other people, they talk through their problems and they get back together. Boring, predictable but safe.

And we’d all be happy at last.

[422 words]

Connie Sum


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