With the expected news of Ringer’s cancellation finally being made official, I thought I’d take a gander at where the show went wrong (and what things it should have capitalized more).
Ringer had buzz written all over it from the very beginning. It had an interesting premise sure to keep viewers glued to the TV week after week. It was airing on the CW, a network that focuses on bringing in the younger demographic. And, above all, it starred Sarah Michelle Gellar, someone who many had been hoping would return to TV since Buffy left the airwaves in 2003. Alas, aside from it’s promising pilot, Ringer never really lived up to the hype that it set out to fulfill.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I liked Ringer. I liked it so much that it is one of the only shows this season that I am completely caught up on. Despite that fact, I can’t deny that almost every week, there was at least one moment in the show that had me rolling my eyes and wishing that Sarah Michelle Gellar had chosen a smarter vehicle to make her much anticipated return. And maybe that’s the whole part of me liking this show. I am a Buffy devotee, and like most Buffy devotees, I love Sarah Michelle Gellar and have a hard time admitting when she is making a bad choice, performing poorly, or not living up to her potential. I wanted so badly for her to succeed in this new endeavor. I wanted this to be the second coming of Buffy. It wasn’t.
Shows like Ringer are a very difficult animal for TV creators to deal with. So, you have this really cool pilot that you want to get on the air, and a TV pilot itself is a very weird animal to deal with. It’s basically a presentation with the TV creator screaming, “please put my show on the air!”. So, there might be some added bells and whistles. There might be promises made that may or may not be able to be fulfilled. There might be some white lies. So, then miraculously in the sea of hundreds of TV pilots, yours is fished out. Now, the TV creator is screaming, “oh crap, I have to actually make this work for a season”. But wait a second, it may not be for a while season. Your pilot’s only ordered for 13 episodes initially and you don’t even know if you are going to get the other 9 ordered. I’m saying all this to point out that as much as I love TV and think it would be really awesome to create a TV show, there’s no way that I’d ever want these people’s jobs. You are trying to plan out a story, you’re not really sure how much time you have to do that in, you don’t know if your story is gonna be appealing, you might have to tweak things along the way. It sucks, plain and simple. And even shows that are are really successful at pulling this off (Lost) can fumble along the way (Sawyer and Kate in the cages anyone?). I say all this to say, that I think the creators, directors, writers, and producers of Ringer had a really good idea and that somewhere along the way, they lost their footing. They weren’t quite sure how to navigate all the mysteries they were laying out. They maybe were a little bit too ambitious. They had too many moments where someone said, “hey, I know, let’s throw this in!”. I mean, the whole storyline with Juliette’s teacher being roped in with Catherine’s scheme to get Andrew’s money. I love a Jason Dohring appearance as much as the next person, but it just didn’t work. Did the showrunners have the season planned out all along? I’m not sure. A lot of Ringer felt clunky, disjointed, and convenient. For me, this was the biggest problem with the show, followed closely by…
The characters just weren’t all that easy to invest in. I have to say that by the end of the season, the only character I truly felt connected to was Bridget. I have to say that I think the writers did a terrible job with Siobhan’s character. At the end of the day, there was nothing really redeeming about her and when I’m presented with a character like that, it’s very frustrating. Truly good characters are gray, not black and white. And while I think the writer’s tried to create some sense of pity for Siobhan when showing that her son had died partly due to Bridget’s actions, it really didn’t work, at least not for me. I didn’t feel bad for her, and I really wanted to, because that was the only way I would actually care about that character. Instead, I saw her as being vindictive and heartless. Speaking of heartless, let’s talk about Henry. He finds out his wife dies and then goes on to continue the affair he’d been having with her best friend? Again, nothing redeeming about this character, which was especially frustrating with him being played by Kristoffer Polaha, an actor who I really love and who created such a multidimensional character on Life Unexpected. I’m all for characters making bad choices, because let’s face it, people make bad choices, but it’s taking it to a whole other level when you are dealing with a character who you can’t stand to look at week after week. That leads me to the characters that had no effect on me whatsoever: Malcolm, Detective Machado, and Catherine. I don’t know, they just didn’t do it for me, and if they show had gone weeks without showing any one of them, I’m not sure I would have noticed.
Now, I know I’m sounding harsh, but like I said earlier, I did like this show. And I think it did have some things going for it. Like I said earlier, a Buffy devotee can’t say enough about Sarah Michelle Gellar. Heck, it’s a big part of the reason many of us watched in the first place. And I don’t think she disappointed here. I’d actually say that more than anything, the writing didn’t challenge her enough with respect to playing two different characters. And again, I think the real shortcoming here was the character of Siobhan. I kept waiting for the character to piece together, but she never really did. And again, I don’t blame Gellar for that, I blame the writers for not fleshing Siobhan out enough. I guess I just needed more about why she did the things she did. The reasons they gave just weren’t enough for me.
The biggest thing the show had going for it in my opinion was the relationships Bridget was able to build with Andrew and Juliette, maybe because in my opinion, Bridget is the most fleshed out character of the series and the character who, despite having deceived so many people, you are rooting for. Without the dynamics she infuses, Andrew and Juliette are merely caricatures. But when they are all together, you never once doubt that although it’s based on a lie, the relationships they have are real on some level. Unfortunately, for me the Bridget’s reveal came a little too late in the season, so late that there was no opportunity to show the audience even a glimmer of hope that these relationships could be salvaged. Now, I didn’t expect the relationships to be all squared away by the end of this season, but waiting that long, now we are left with the relationships in complete disarray and the show is now over. I understand that the writer’s were probably going to make this the foundation for the second season, but doing it this way, the audience is left without any hope that Bridget can regain the new life she has built for herself.
Wow, this post has gone on for incredibly long. If you are still with me, I’ll close with, RIP Ringer. I’ll miss you. Sort of.