Pushing Daisies and Kings: What’s Wrong with People?

Posted by Marisa June 18th, 2009 at 10:30am In Kings Pushing Daisies

I woke up on Sunday with a start. I ran to my TV and immediately checked my TiFaux. I sighed with relief—everything had recorded as I intended.

I was worried, because I didn’t realize until that morning that, for the first time, Pushing Daisies and Kings were actually airing on the same night. I was afraid that they were even in the exact same time slot—and that one would bump the other off the record schedule—but Kings is on at 8 pm, and Pushing Daisies wasn’t on until 10.

Sadly, this will never happen again. Pushing Daisies is officially over. Kings still has a few episodes to go—if NBC will forgive its dismal-even-for-Saturday ratings—and then it joins Pushing Daisies in the category of “Shows I Like, Canceled.”

Which brings me to my question: What’s wrong with people? Why didn’t these shows catch on?

Kings I can almost understand. If you don’t love it the way I do, it would be unbearable. You can’t just dip into an episode and half-pay-attention and expect to follow what’s going on. Still, I’m surprised that it didn’t develop a nerdfollowing niche, the way Dollhouse—which is a lesser show on almost every level—has. When I watch Kings, I actually feel refreshed. I love that it gives me something that no other TV series possibly can. I really enjoy the crazy world, the weird pretentious way the characters speak, the alternate history (I’d love to see an episode that took place before Silas was king and everything was chaos), the fact that God is actually a character, and, most of all, the king in the basement. I especially love that I can tell the creators’ vision of the show is so complete, but I have absolutely no idea where it’s going. It’s not like House, where you wince every time they go to the MRI machine because you know that the patient is going to freak out inside of it. So, I really want to know: Why wasn’t anyone else as taken in as I was? Was it the difficult language? The melodrama? The heavy history?

Pushing Daisies at least was critically beloved, but I don’t understand why it wasn’t a huge hit. It was pretty, the stars were adorable—and, for TV, recognizable—and it really didn’t challenge its audience too much. I could see people of any age really getting into it. Sure, the mysteries were a little thin. But I didn’t watch it for that, I just wanted to hear the quick banter and melt with the love stories. (For people who love will-they-or-won’t-they romances, at least this show had a good excuse for why their stars never kiss.) I also love the colorful world of Coeur d’Coeurs, with all those luscious pies. So, what was wrong with it? Did the mysteries not involve enough forensic evidence? Were you turned off by the quirkiness? Did they speak too fast? Was it too cute? Do you hate love, and things that are lovely?

Really, if you hated one of these shows, I want to hear from you, because I don’t understand you. Tell me: What’s wrong with you?

To me, both of these shows were precious because they were unlike anything else on television. I really hope that wasn’t their undoing in the end. I’m not sure I want to be on the TV beat when every single show is about investigators, hospital employees (new show ideas: Physician’s Assistant Josie! Courier Bob!), and over-privileged teenagers.

7 Comments

  • 1. sara  |  June 18th, 2009 at 3:03 pm

    Well, I didn’t watch Kings, but I think I was kept at a distance from really embracing Pushing Daisies because of the overwhelming adorableness. It was so shiny and colorful and pretty that the darkness, the death the characters were dealing with all the time, felt as unreal as those pretty, pretty pies and every single thing Chuck wore. I just couldn’t form any sort of attachment to the characters because they seemed like cartoons.

  • 2. Lyn  |  June 18th, 2009 at 4:16 pm

    Regarding Pushing Daisies, I agree with Sara … but another issue is that every episode seemed exactly the same.

  • 3. Sierra  |  June 18th, 2009 at 7:49 pm

    I love Kings, and am enjoying it while it lasts, but I can’t say that I felt that way about Pushing Daisies. I really wanted to love it because I was a huge fan of Dead Like Me, the show that the idea for Pushing Daisies came from, but it was just inferior in every way. It looked really pretty, but there was not nearly as much substance. Like Lyn said, every episode was the same. It was a simple mystery of the week format, so I was confused as to why critics loved it so much. If I want a quirky show about death, I would much rather go back and watch Dead Like Me.

  • 4. Marisa  |  June 18th, 2009 at 9:54 pm

    Sara — That kind of makes sense to me, because I really like cartoons!

    Lyn — I guess I also didn’t mind that every episode is the same, because it made me feel good every time. The formula didn’t bother me as much as the House formula did, I guess.

    Sierra — I’ve never seen Dead Like Me, but you’re inspiring me to check it out if it’s like Pushing Daisies, but better!

    Thanks, guys, I can see what you’re getting at.

  • 5. caroline  |  June 22nd, 2009 at 9:53 am

    Dead Like Me doesn’t have the shiny happy adorableness of Pushing Daisies – in fact, it’s kind of the polar opposite in that area. But it’s smart, and hilarious, and weird and I can’t believe that it ever got canceled.

    I loved Pushing Daisies, even realizing that it was the same set up every week. I loved the characters, cartoony as they are, and the quirkiness, and Pigby. But if I had to pick between Pushing Daisies and Dead Like Me to renew…. it’s a tough one.

  • 6. Billy  |  July 11th, 2009 at 11:16 am

    Pushing Daisies got my attention from the first episode and held it since then. It was my favorite show, ever, and I am so saddened that it didn’t catch on. I found this website trying to answer the question: Why didn’t people like pushing daisies?

    I really don’t know. Anyone who saw episodes like, “The Fun in Funeral” or “Bitches” in season one, or “Bad Habits” and “Di Sum, Lose Some” in season two would have stuck with the show forever. Everything about it was fantastic, and although the basic format was the same, saying that ‘every episode is the same’ is just not fair. Isn’t every crime-drama the same? Set up a murder, then they try to solve it, and then you get the big reval at the end.

    I loved the characters like Olive and Emerson. But the one thing I will never, ever forget is the ‘Birdhouse in Your Soul’ scene from the episode “Pidgeon.” it really touched my heart, as did nearly every episode, which is why I was faithful to daisies until the very sad end of what should have been years of a wonderful show.

  • 7. sean  |  November 27th, 2010 at 5:32 am

    i did not see kings either but pushing daisies was an excellent show, as was dead like me… neither show got a complete wrap up as deserved.
    however i would agree that these two shows were entirely different other than the wit and hovering death in the air.
    pushing daisies was very intriguing, as it had a grim fairy tale like appeal and witty rhetoric.
    i would implore anyone who could name a show that that was not formulaic that held consistency, aside from shows that only really made sense after all the episodes or most were viewed…. the great stories and myths of old were told in a formulaic fashion as to maintain the interest of the listeners…. who wants another jumpy slaughter house five scenario… really…. if the plot does not seem formulaic it is because it has no substance…. the trick of any great writer is to captivate the audience enough to not notice the formulaic setup of the story but not to disregard it entirely…. no one actually wants to listen to a story that contains gaps and means nothing as whole unless this is understood before listening… ie a collection of stories that might hold small connections but are in total their own individual stories.


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