Politics & Policy

SOTU: The Final Season

(White House via Twitter)
SOTU enters its eighth and final season. What we can expect.

The television show SOTU premiered a teaser promo on Twitter Tuesday night, hoping to get viewers who have fallen off over the course of recent seasons excited for the long-overdue final season’s premiere on January 12. The season will conclude with a series finale in January 2017.

Not much is revealed about the plot of the upcoming season, but the promo does feature the smirking president (played by Barack Obama) adjusting his white-tie tuxedo, an upbeat image in stark contrast to how last season ended: the country he presides over suffering another devastating terror attack in California, as well as one in Paris, with our hero rushing away to Hawaii.

That’s where we were left at the end of Season Seven of a show that even loyal viewers feel has gone on a couple of seasons too many.

Producers have remained mostly quiet over the plot of the final season but have leaked some details. We can expect more “attack comedy” as was reported by Politico, even in the wake of a rising threat — the villainous ISIS — which the president still doesn’t seemed concerned by, a bizarre plot choice perhaps responsible for the show’s poor ratings of late. Producers have also promised a “nontraditional” season premiere which may be nothing more than a strategic play by the scriptwriters to drum up flagging support for the show.

SOTU started out promising in its first couple of seasons, but as with any other show on television or streaming services, its quality has steadily declined over time, with more emphasis on celebrity cameo appearances (Zach Galifinakis, Amy Schumer, Bear Grylls, and Jerry Seinfeld, to name a few) than actual substantive storylines dealing with conflicts like the main character’s unpopular health-care law, disappearing majorities in Congress, and a rising terror threat across the world. The show even tried to syphon off the success of one of its sister shows, Game of Thrones, by featuring the president in an iron throne. Audiences were still not amused enough to keep tuning in.

There are really only so many times you can show the main character of a long-running series going golfing before the audience stops caring and jumps to something new. Already there is talk of how producers can possibly insert Obama as a supporting character into future spinoff shows, including the upcoming 2016.

#share#Season Seven, aptly titled “The Fu**-It List” in reference to a line of dialogue recited by the president (played by Barack Obama), started out with promise. We saw him jamming out in front of a podium wearing Dr. Dre’s “Beats” line of headphones and sitting down with some kooky new characters, possibly in an attempt at gaining viewers from the coveted 18–24 demographic.

As the season continued, its plot became fixated on a catastrophic refugee crisis, though scriptwriters bizarrely opted out of having the president (played by Barack Obama) deal with it head on, choosing instead to show the audience a simpler story of him trekking through Alaska.

The cinematography of those episodes last season was no doubt breathtaking, but the writers once again chose to rely on the overused past plot device of having him pull out a selfie stick instead of undergoing real character development. It’s almost as if the character of the president (played by Barack Obama) has become a one-line caricature simply hoping to ride out the final season of the show.

#related#​As falling ratings have shown, audiences are tired of the same old shtick and are ready to move on.

If SOTU’s writers choose to leave a bunch of plot holes unresolved (including storylines with Syria, Russia, and Iran), what viewers remain may tune out quickly after the season premiere. Perhaps we will see the president’s character (played by Barack Obama) begin to succumb to fears of irrelevance as he is forced to exit the stage he so adores.

This new promo may please what few remaining fans the show has left, but for the rest of the one-time viewers who have long ago tuned out, this final season looks to just be more of the same smoke-and-mirror gimmicks we’ve come to expect.

— Stephen L. Miller is a writer living in Brooklyn, N.Y. He publishes The Wilderness, which focuses on viral politics and social media.

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