Dexter and the Sunk Cost Fallacy


I almost made it through the 7th season of Dexter, but then I gave up. There is nothing like going away for a vacation and returning to 3 DVR’s stockpiled with an overwhelming amount of TV episodes, to force a cull. My guiding principle is, if it feels like a chore, then I don’t waste my time. It is my visceral way of knowing that it is time for a clean break. I have used this technique time and time again with no regrets. The list of fallen shows is long and includes the following: Heroes, Chuck, Desperate Housewives, Hung, American Horror Story, Hell on Wheels, The Killing, Bones, Gilmore girls, Roswell, Nikita, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles.

And now I am adding Dexter to the list because I am 4 episodes behind, and catching up feels like a chore. Yes, an obligation is what watching Dexter seems like, and has so for a very long time. It has probably been that way since season 3 if I dare be completely honest. All this time, I have been cutting this show a lot of slack, a credit to the goodwill accrued in the first 2 seasons. I continued to watch for various reasons; my husband wanted to watch, it airs commercial free and the actors (Michael C. Hall, Jennifer Carpenter, Desmond Harrington) are generally good…. Aaaand a lot of wishful thinking; so I kept watching. Until recently that is. To be exact, season 7 episode 8 was when I decided to call it QUITS.

I cannot believe I watched for so long. The writing has been sloppy, the characterizations poor and inconsistent and the bar for excellent dark twisted story telling has been raised by Breaking Bad. It is often my discovery of a more engaging show with a similar theme that leads me to cull my list of appointment TV (Good bye Bones, Hello Castle). There is nothing quite like a superiorly written and acted show coming along to flush out some of the crap that I watch 😉 The murderous plots of Dexter are so contrived and the character contortions required to serve such inanity are more than I can handle. Dexter’s code (to only kill evil murderous deviants whom are beyond the law’s reach) degenerated to a loosey goosey plot convenience that was violated by season 3 with inadequate narrative setup. His subsequent idiotic behavior made me stop caring about him long ago. The pointless peripheral plotlines of the supporting characters lost my interest soon afterward, but I kept watching, hoping something would change.

I used to like Deb’s character (smart at her job yet vulnerable with the most colorful potty mouth) enough to overlook her Daddy issues (old man Lundy? Eeeew!). One of my all time favorite declaration of love scenes is between Quinn and her from season 5

But then for the convenience of another idiotic (incest) plot, they threw that relationship under a bus with both characters acting like petulant teenagers. That is when I stopped caring about everyone. But Jonny Lee Miller


was the big bad that season, so I stuck it out. That was rewarded by a slap in the face that I call the great tableaux that was season 6. The only good thing about that season was the last 5 minutes. That last 5 minutes held so much promise, yet it ultimately failed to deliver. So far season 7 has been a pant load of the same old – same old. I do not care enough to invest anymore time watching.

I know some will say, how can you quit after you invested so much time? Stick it out to the end of this season at least. To that I apply the economic principle of sunk cost fallacy (aka throwing good money after bad). Lost time cannot be recovered. My future time is wasted if I continue watching that which no longer entertains me. Although I cannot change the past, the future is mine to determine. And in the age of DVD and timely internet TV recaps, I do not have to watch the broadcast episode to find out what happens. I can spend a fraction of the time reading the AV club online recaps to get the gist. I have already read ahead to see how this season of Dexter ends (sorry no spoilers here). The online recap scored the season 7 finale episode at C minus. The review and hilarious comments are on the same page as I am (glad to know I am not alone, check this out it is hilarious). Nothing I read made me regret my decision to quit watching this show. My only regret is that I didn’t quit sooner.

I really don’t care what happens next season to all the characters populating this show. Not because it is dark, twisted or ghastly, but because after watching Breaking Bad, I know how well these themes can be written. If by some miracle the quality of the story telling improves, the AV club’s report card will let me know and I if I want to, I can catch up on Netflix, cable on demand or DVD.


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