blagi: (Lucy Camden)
[personal profile] blagi

I got into 7th Heaven the very year it came out, 1997. The first episode I watched was episode 2, with my family. In the family room while we ate takeout from the diner. I was instantly hooked and would go on to watch it religiously in the years to come.

7th Heaven started out fairly simple, a wholesome family with a minister dad trying to keep good values and decency alive in the ever-changing world of the 90s. Sure, it could get a little preachy at times and I felt bad for the Camden kids not getting to live "normal" lives, but overall it had some good storylines and believable characters. Matt was handsome and rebellious, but good-hearted and responsible. Mary was popular and athletic but still 14 and wanting to kiss boys. Simon, the smart adventurous kid who loved comics. Cute little sister Ruthie who tagged along and wanted to understand everything more. Eric and Annie were happily married with the occasional fight or scuffle.

And then there was Lucy, my almost immediate favorite character. She was the emotional teenage middle daughter who just wanted to be special. As Matt said in one episode about drugs: "Lucy's the one you should look out for, she always feels left out". And she was usually cast in the role of the one who got left behind or was late to the party on something. A character like this could easily be a Butt Monkey, but with Lucy it wasn't played for laughs, it was one of her character catches. She had to feel like she belonged, like she was appreciated and noticed even though she wasn't a basketball star like Mary or the baby of the family like Ruthie. She didn't have any super-special talents or anything that made her stand out in a big way, and she was always looking for something like that.

But while a character like that could easily be a whiny parody of herself or a pathetic angster who was there to suffer and suffer some more, Lucy was real. She was the insecure teenage girl in everyone who just wanted to be loved.

Her transformation into a different woman began around season 4, when she joined up with Habitat for Humanity. After everyone kept joking about her boy-crazy ways, she got sick of it and wanted to be known for something else. She discovered a talent for helping people and doing construction work, something that would stay with her character for the rest of the series. Then in season 5, for Eric's birthday she told him she wanted to be a minister like he was. That, for me, was not just a crowning moment of heartwarming but also the pinnacle of her character development. She still liked boys a lot, yeah, but she had something bigger to be a part of. She'd found her calling.

Unfortunately, season 6 happened. In the season 5 finale she moved to New York to live with her fiance Jeremy, but in the next season she was home, her heart broken and her life a bit of a mess. She got back on track with her college education and ministry training after half a season, but her overall personality had taken a nosedive. She'd regressed to her pre-teen self, only now it was bordering on ridiculous and petty. And in season 7 it just got worse, even though she was dating Kevin and he intended to propose to her, their relationship turned into a joke. Lucy was whiny and insecure and had the idiot ball shoved into her hands constantly, and Kevin's character had potential but the writers handled certain aspects of him so clumsily that the fans decided he was an abusive robot.

I wouldn't say Lucy was ruined, but it was definitely a full-blown case of character derailment. She slowly began to change for the better once she and Kevin got engaged and then married, and slowly started acting a bit more like the mature Lucy she'd been in seasons 4 and 5.

She was never quite the same, though. The writers fell back on some of their old devices for writing her, but now that she was a grown woman it just felt...wrong. While I can believe that a person would have trouble letting go of their insecurities from childhood, Lucy already seemed to have done so. Granted, the whole Jeremy thing had to have dealt a crushing blow to her self-image, but he was rarely even brought up after one mention in the season 7 premire. Kind of wasted potential there, honestly, I kind of wish she'd run into Jeremy again after that one season 6 episode and hashed it out and just gotten some CLOSURE.

So the series went on, and the writers fluctuated with their handling of Lucy. Sometimes it came across like "oh, she's human and humans aren't always rational", other times it came off as contrived for the same of the same old idiot plots. And it sucked because all the while, Lucy was growing into an amazing woman. She was a good wife and mother, a great minister, eager to help out in the community. It's not "they changed her, now she sucks", it's "they tried to mix character development with comic relief and failed miserably". Don't get me wrong, the show WAS capable of funny now and then, but when you sacrifice characterization and undermine otherwise good storylines for the sake of LOL FUNNY!!!...yeah. Not a good thing.

I spent a lot of time going back and forth between YAY NEW EPISODE and AUGH STUPID WRITERS. I kept watching like a loyal viewer till the end and I was glad I did, but so many episodes rubbed me the wrong way and I found myself constantly playing the complainy fan who groaned and bitched about the most random things.

This is why I'm so willing to give a free pass to other fandoms. Boy Meets World may have continuity issues out the ass, but at least it's funny about its loose canon. Fire Emblem doesn't always do it 100% flawless, but at least it TRIES to follow through on the story it wants to tell. Avatar: The Last Airbender had some bumps in the road in S3, but it remained more or less consistent with its characterizations and story. Family Guy is a mess of stupidity and bullshit and Flanderization and I dislike Meg being treated like crap, but overall the entire POINT of Family Guy is that it's not meant to be taken seriously in context.

Basically, I used up all my hypercritical nitpicking on this show, and have no desire to go there again with fandoms I like.
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