The past, I dunno, month or so I’ve been watching my way through ER. For most of the series, this was my second watch, but the last three seasons were new to me.
As a series, it holds up WAY better than I was anticipating. Sure, there are some cringe-y moments, but I was pleasantly surprised with the way they approached many topics like spousal abuse, shootings, race, sexuality, and more.
But, oof, were they rough on their characters.
*THIS IS WHERE THE SPOILERS FOR A DECADES-OLD TV SHOW BEGIN*
For example, let’s take a look at Dr. Weaver. The writers put this woman through literal hell.
(Full disclosure, I shoulda been making notes the entire time, cause I am missing a few mean things the writers did to good old Kerry Weaver. I wasn’t planning on writing about ‘ER’ though. I was honestly kind of embarrassed about watching it for some reason. But the series finale was so bad I had to say something.)
First off, Dr. Weaver shows up with a crutch, suffering from a birth defect in her hip.
Then, the writers make her have a big struggle with her sexuality. She couldn’t be a happy lesbian… there had to be drama and hate and it had to be a struggle…but I had to keep reminding myself that times were different.
Of course she was also adopted and when she finally finds and meets her birth mom, it turns out she is religious AF and had a big problem with ~the gays~. (I’m using the tilde as ‘spicy quotation marks’ for the purposes of this blog).
Then, when she finally fell in love, there was of course drama surrounding it… in so far that the woman she loves gets pregnant, has a baby boy and then a few weeks later… dies.
And if that wasn’t enough, the parents of the mom of Weaver’s baby deny Kerry access to the child, because they were never ~fans~ of their daughter’s sexuality.
Eventually a custody agreement is reached, but not after a year of pure uncertain hell.
Here are some other things I remember her going through:
- an explosion
- a seizure
- a miscarriage
- her position at the hospital got fucked around with many times
- her biological father dying
One of my favorite things this fabulous character did was dedicate an LGBT Center to her (now dead) bigoted co-worker who was notably against gay rights when he was alive. Yeah, I’m talking about good ‘ol helicopter Romano.
She does end up getting a happy ending. Well, as happy as ‘ER’ can give, I guess.
A pattern I noticed when binging this goes like this:
Something AWESOME happens to a character… then later that episode, or the next episode… something TERRIBLE happens to that same character.
No wonder I’m always waiting for the other shoe to drop. I grew up on ‘ER’!
Ok now about this finale. First off, I thought it was only 14 seasons, so as I suffered through 13 & 14, I thought to myself, “Okay, they just kind of fizzled out and the show ended on a crap note.” Then I finished season 14, which didn’t feel at all like a series finale… cause a character had something awesome happen and then they were involved in a massive explosion. Major cliffhanger.
Season 15 redeemed itself in a BIG WAY.
Leading up to the finale, they did (relatively) right by each character and even brought back some oldies. There was honestly too much Dr. Carter for my taste, but maybe I just don’t like him? And, yeah, they also way overused the emotional musical stings, but it was the last season of a ~BIG~ show, so I’ll give ’em a pass.
The penultimate two episodes were fantastic. I cried openly at both, multiple times and that is not something I admit to lightly.
Then the last episode happened.
It is like it was written by an entirely completely different team of writers who didn’t know the characters at all. Which, a quick visit to IMDB tells me, looks to be exactly what happened. John Wells, who wrote pretty regularly for the show up to 2005, wrote the finale, which was filled with newer characters whose stories were just as important to wrap up as the old characters they shoved in.
The series finale felt like fan service. It was saccharine and didn’t match the tone of the ramp up to it. It felt forced and so much felt shoehorned into it in order to make sure the fans got exactly what they wanted.
And there was a weird Dr. Carter moment, after he had just seen Drs. Weaver & Lewis, and was telling the folks back in the emergency room about them. He says something along the lines of “Susan Lewis, in particular, looks amazing.”
Unnecessary, Dr. Carter.
Just like the finale.