Old people, as we all know, move to Florida to stave off impending death. But Privileged was already set in Florida. So that's not going to work. Hence, the presumptive series finale, despite a ridiculous and downright desperate "To be continued" frame at the end of the episode.
So Privileged isn't coming back next year?
Not bloody likely. When your network decides to publicly announce that it's renewing the majority of its current programming on the day of your season finale, but conveniently ignores you, let's call that a bad sign. Of the dramas currently airing on the CW, Privileged's ratings aren't just the worst; they're by far the worst. And things will only look worse next week when Reaper replaces it on the schedule and surely trounces the ratings that Privileged has been getting. If I had to lay the odds, I'd say there's about a 10-15% chance that Privileged may live on into next year. No more than that.
But if you're an optimist, you basically have to pray for a perfect storm: that the network decides to fully program Sundays and Wednesdays and Fridays next year and is thus desperate for content, plus all of the pilots in development have to be completely terrible, plus somehow Reaper's ratings next week are worse than Privileged, plus you'd probably need the ratings for 90210 and several other shows to completely tank the rest of the year in order to make Privileged's numbers not look so horrible. If all of those things happen … I'd still say the network is far more likely to go with a new unproven commodity rather than a show that has consistently demonstrated that it cannot pull two million viewers.
That's not being cruel. That's being pragmatic. I'll miss Privileged, but I have to accept that the numbers are the numbers. If you watch enough TV, some of your favorites are bound to die before they deserve to. But if you worry about it too much, you'll just drive yourself crazy. And so let's reflect on what we had, and chat about the season finale.
When I mentioned during the last episode that I was hesitant about Marco getting married to Keith, I noted that I just wasn't sure if I trusted Keith all that much, given how little we know about him. But what's implicit in that is that Keith is not the problem; I'd be wary of anybody we knew so little of. The problem is that it's a really unfortunate juxtaposition to see Marco and Keith so happy when the main couple at the center of the show, Megan and Will, is on such shaky ground.
Megan and Will are a perfect example of why it is so ridiculous for us to expect that Marco and Keith are just perfect and will always be perfect. Megan and Will seemed pretty perfect not too long ago, too. Should they have gotten married then? No. That would have been insane. And, yes, Marco and Keith theoretically have their own backstory that predates the series itself, so it's not like they've only known each other a few weeks, but on the show itself, they might as well have only known each other a few weeks. It just seems sloppy that the show expects us to ride the Megan-Will rollercoaster for a full season, but since Marco is only a supporting character he can be shunted off to happiness without there being a concern. It feels lazy, like the writers didn't have any other good storylines for Marco, so they just set him up with a tidy little love story.
Ultimately, it's that theme which may have been the creative downfall of Privileged as a whole. All of the other storylines that promised to carry the show ended up being sacrificed in favor of little romance stories. Megan spends the bulk of the finale not with the girls, not attending to her family despite it being on the verge of crisis, and not on her career goals – in fact, the mention of Megan's book about Laurel seems almost tacked on here, as it doesn't add to the plot in any way other than saying 'see, we didn't forget about it!' Instead, Megan spends the episode worrying about her relationship with Will. Sage, likewise, is spending the whole time worrying about her young love life, and ultimately she breaks up with Luis after a disagreement jumpstarted by Luis's not being willing to attend Marco's marriage ceremony. Rose is the only character getting things right, trying to forge a full life for herself.
One of the troubles with all of TV, not just isolated to Privileged, is how reductive the medium is when it comes to depicting young people. TV writers can't seem to do anything with young people except put them in little romantic stories. If you're old enough to be able to look back on your high school, college, or immediate post-college days, was love and romance a part of them? Sure. Was it the whole thing? Absolutely not. There's so much more to your life story to that, but TV just isn't very good at dealing with those other parts. They're too focused on the one thing that's easiest to write because everybody has written it before. We've seen stories of young love before. What we haven't necessarily seen is characters with the fortitude of Megan Smith or Rose and Sage Baker going out on their own and forging their identities in really unique and uplifting ways. These characters could have been really unique and inspiring. Instead, they became largely interchangeable with those on any other young adult drama.
In the finale, Will and Megan break up after one too many arguments in which Megan looks down on Will for having everything come easy to him and Will can't stand Megan being on her high horse any more. During the wedding ceremony, Megan meets some British guy and hooks up with him, only to be awoken the next morning by a phone call from Will wanting to get back together, as Megan is in bed next to the British chap. It's all very yawn-inducing. Pretty much everybody seems to have ditched the Megan-Will bandwagon by now anyway, so their finally breaking up for good was just inevitable. And throwing a love triangle into the mix – whether it's Megan-Will-Charlie, Megan-Will-Editor David, or Megan-Will-AnonoBrit – doesn't do much to spice things up for a possible season two.
In the event of a possible second season, the show needs to refocus on its core premise. Megan doesn't interact with Rose and Sage after the ten-minute mark of this episode, save for a group dance – if the show had managed to create a season finale that got back to basics there, I'd be much more optimistic and hopeful regarding the future.
To be fair, Rose and Sage are showing that they are growing up in really positive ways, and some of that may indeed be due to Megan. But it would be much better if we could see that, instead of simply Rose and Sage remarking by themselves that Megan has influenced them. Still, the idea of Sage getting a little more serious about school, coupled with Rose exploring as many different possibilities as she can in order to find a unique identity outside her sister's shadow, are two really nice developments. Even if there is no second season of Privileged, at least we can use our imaginations to wish them well as they become the impressive young women they're capable of being.
You, too, use your imagination now. What kind of people do you foresee Megan and Rose and Sage becoming in the future, and what kind of accomplishments do you see in store for them? Which character will you miss the most? What was your favorite moment of the series?