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The Royal Pains Series Finale Was Exactly That: a Royal Pain

Hank's royal pain of an ending

The Royal Pains series finale was exactly that, and it left me with just one thing to say: put your hands down again, patriots.


I take it all back. I saluted USA too soon. All hands on hips.


“At ease” is the official command for ceasing military gestures, sure, but the last minute of the last episode of Royal Pains, un-ease bordering on dis-ease was my dominant feeling. The unofficial gesture I made in reaction only needed one finger, not four.


SMH. I must have been an idiot, hailing a television network as a leader in diversity in its depictions of my fellow Americans: Single people.


Nope, USA Network, the writers, the producers, whoever, just could not resist a trip to Cliché Island.


They did what Hollywood always does: substitute societal expectations for creativity. Instead of depicting Dr. Hank Lawson as the happy man on his own he proclaimed himself to be just a week earlier, they caved in to cultural biases, or just gave up trying, and settled for a biased, boring finale.


Which means they made Hank settle, too.  They tied up his story by tying him down. Who saw that coming? To be honest, not me.


Re-cap: Two weeks ago, Hank decides that he might “end up alone” (ugh) but he was ok because he has a great life and has been happy all along. This week, he flies to a third world nation to reunite with Jill, the ex-hospital administrator/ex-gf who founded a clinic instead of hanging with Hank.


I never got the sense that Hank was longing for Jill.  Hank had multiple women in his life after Jill followed her passion for serving the needy in Africa instead of the rich in the Hamptons. Clearly she wasn’t waiting on Hank either: she left the show years ago (and now stars on The Night Shift).


Yet, suddenly, Hank appears, unannounced, for one of those magical TV reunions. Except it wasn’t magical and there was no union to speak of. Maybe it’s just me but Jill looked uncomfortable. She was busy, dammit, and she gets enough surprises on the job.


I suspect the only reason Jill was even a tad pleased to see him is because Hank is a doctor. Her facility needs doctors. Jill? Doesn’t seem like she needs anyone.


Regardless, in one fell swoop and badly written script, USA destroyed two tremendous role models. Single women who choose career over men are generally punished for it on TV. Jill was not. Single men who are happy are ne’er do Peter Pans. Hank was not. Single people are miserable. They were not.


These characters were original; they presented another way of life for women, and men, than we typically see. They were multi-dimensional, not stuck on the same old same old search for “the one.” Jill and Hank are very much like my friends in real life.


I should have known better. Our stories are never on television.


For a minute, Royal Pains affirmed that being single is not sad. For most of eight seasons, marital status was beside the point for Hank. He found fulfillment and excitement in his work. He found love in his family and friends. He had it all. And on the next to last episode, he knew it.


I guess he forgot, or maybe developed the same illness he discovered was causing Cloris Leachman to hallucinate.  Fingers crossed USA pulls a JR on Dallas move and Royal Pains finale turns out to be a dream/nightmare.


Why didn’t Royal Pains end with Hank flying off with the true most important person in his life—Boris? Boris offered him the freedom to pursue research and the hands on medicine Hank loved to practice, in exotic places and developing countries. The world and all the money in it were at Hank’s disposal.


Why couldn’t the story come full circle, with Hank going back into an Emergency Room, in the Hamptons or the hospital from which he was fired in the series premier?


Why wouldn’t Hank just stumble into a new partner for HankMed, like he did with Divya and Jeremiah?


Did USA really need to torture us, and the storyline, with a stereotype? Royal Pains was ending and everyone had to move on. I guess I do too, but can you blame me for being disappointed? The home of the free and network of the brave could not leave well enough alone.


Or Hank.


So, my unmarried comrades, put your hands down. Such lack of inspiration does not deserve our salutes, or our attention. Talk about a royal pain.


At ease, carry on– alone and all right with it.


Are there TV shows you love but hate because they make single people into caricatures?  Did you have hopes for a different perspective that got dashed by a dull, discriminating script? Email me or leave a comment below.

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