So today (Sunday, August 31st, 2008) For Better or For Worse puts out its “Last Strip,” the strip where we learn what the characters do with their futures. Of course they’re all happy (insofar as what we’re given).
Of course, much of the attention given to the strip over the past few years was watching how bad things could get. More interesting was reading the people snark over what they wish the cartoon would do, picking over every little “wrong” that Lynn did, didn’t do, could have done or intended to do.
Makes me wonder whether Charles Schulz would have survived the internet age (that will be a separate post).
Anyway, I remember being a fan of For Better or For Worse. While I didn’t hunt it down every day, it was a good comic to read, and one could ignore it for months (or years) and pick it up again. Like a good soap opera, only with a steady cast of characters.
So when did it go bad? I have three suspected points:
- When Lawrence was outed.
While daring at the time, it’s obvious in hindsight that Lynn suddenly became scared of a portion of her fans after that. Even though the “history” of Lawrence’s outing has a positive spin on it, it’s obvious that she was strongly affected by the negative criticism from some fans. Maybe otherwise she would have had the kids snoozing with their boyfriends (especially Liz’s “gay” boyfriend, who I think was made gay so as to keep certain fans from thinking that Liz was sleeping with him).
- When April Almost Drowned (Farley Died for April’s Sins)
I understand that Farley had to die at some point. I also have no problem with having Farely spend the last moments of his life saving family (although Farley not waking up one day makes better sense – that I’ll agree with). However, this seemed to lead to a sad tendency of Lynn to pile on extra drama when something big happened. Notice Michael falling for Dee after realizing she was in the accident he was shooting photos for, the house fire when Mike’s about to publish, Liz’s future husband saves her from rape at the time Liz decides to return home, and Jim’s repeated heart attacks/strokes whenever the plot needed to move along.
The fact that there alwasy needed to be drama piled on drama when something big was happening seemed to say that Lynn didn’t feel that what was going on was able to hold people’s attention.
- Michael, Meet the Kelpfroths.
Suddenly you see a family forced to be evil forever. Never mind their back story (my guess is that they may have tried once but decided to accept their childlessness, and are retired and probably unable to afford a move elsewhere), suddenly you have a couple forced to be ugly and bitter AND live underneath a noisy family AND suddenly be treated as the lowest form of life on the food chain AND forced to take on bad habits as their only way of striking back. For me, the last straw was Mr. Kelpfroth walking outside with the recycling ( the implication being here that the useful stuff was being put out, leaving the trash behind) and smoking a cigar when, from the upper part of the house the words “Do You Small Some Trash Burning” are uttered. An anvil plowing into Wile E. Coyote would have been more subtle.
After that, things became not so much predictable but forced. Liz falls in love again with her childhood sweetheart, Michael started publishing once a year, Jim was held on life support for much longer than he should have, and Lynn spent enough time doing past stuff that didn’t make any sense other than to rewrite history. If it weren’t for the snarkers, I’d probably long stopped.
But she’s gone and started rewritting history full-time (at least that’s what she’s saying she’ll do from here on in). I can now ignore her forever.