Being Human Series Finale Review: Burning Down the House
The house had to die. I didn't realize it until the thing was actually in flames, but the destruction of the house, Ramona, and all the sorrow it/they brought to Nora, Josh, Aidan, and Sally was one of the most perfect decisions Being Human has made in its four seasons on Syfy. Sure, it was a little bittersweet, because if you put aside the bloody massacres and other sundry horrors, some good times were had in that place over the years; despite the evil that permeated its very walls, the house brought four very unlikely allies together to share in a genuine happiness. It was kind of like how the murder house brought the Harmon family together at the end of American Horror Story's first season, except it was sloppy and left a few survivors behind to make cute little werewolf babies and name them Aidan and Sally and I was having flashbacks to the ugh-tastic epilogue to Harry Potter with the diabetus-inducing sweetness, but whatever. "There Goes the Neighborhood (Part 3)" still managed to cram plenty of overwhelming misery into its running time. Physics and television writing have at least one thing in common: For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.
Aidan died. Sally died more. The house was destroyed—which, again, was necessary, but still painful. Josh and Nora made peace with each other and their curse, but ended the series still burdened with said curse. For all its bouts of darkness, Being Human was never really a dark show and to end on anything but a positive note would have been a bad fit.
Inherent optimism is what ultimately set the North American version of Being Human apart from its U.K. predecessor. I watched (most of) the original series and I liked it just fine, but it didn't really offer any sort of meaningful lesson or commentary on what it means to be human. And when your show is called Being Human, it doesn't really matter that your main characters are anything but, because you've made a statement about humanity in the very conception of the series: It isn't squeaky clean human DNA, or, you know, a pulse, that makes us human. It's the mundane shit. It's chick-flick moments, cheeseburgers, getting laid, being afraid, and doing the right thing or not doing the right thing, but for the purpose of contrasting this Being Human with the original Being Human, we'll go with doing the right thing.
Both series ended with the deaths of their vampire studmuffins, Both vampire studmuffins fell in love with the house ghost. Both vampire studmuffins tried really hard not to go on blood benders that made the eleven-o'clock news, but tended to suck at it. Heh. Suck. Anyway.
Both vampire beefcakes sacrificed themselves for the good of the many, but the circumstances surrounding their deaths dictated the tones of their deaths, and I'm sorry, but Mitchell's death in the original Being Human always came off as a sort of messed-up, pro-suicide argument to me. In the context of Mitchell's status as a vampire—and given his repeated impressive failings as a vampire—then sure, Mitchell's death was the best possible outcome for a lot of people. But that's a very odd and generally frowned-upon attitude to harbor with regard to humanity, if you're thinking like a human who does good things. Mitchell's death shattered the illusion that Being Human was deeper than a BBC genre show about sexy monsters shacking up together.
The irony here is that I'm not entirely sure that the North American Being Human ever intended to be more than that, but eventually, it somehow transcended the stage blood and melodrama to become something a little more substantial. I'm not saying that one Being Human is necessarily better than the other, I'm just saying that they became very different shows along the way. The U.K. Being Human was a tragedy in the theatrical sense. It was all about the suffering, the sexy, sexy suffering. Being Human North America was a comedy. It imitated real life by divorcing itself from real life and inadvertently saying more about real life than it originally intended to. It also maintained that real life was good, even when it was kind of shitty.
Last week, I argued that the best possible chance at a happy ending for Aidan and Sally hinged on Aidan dying—like for-real dying, no undead crap. Sally certainly couldn't come back to life again, and putting an end to his miserable immortality was kind of one of Aidan's things. The monster status of these characters and the knowledge of a not-entirely-crappy afterlife in this universe allowed us to advocate for an ending where the hero died heroically and won the girl or, in Josh's case, bumbled around all awkwardly for four seasons and won the girl anyway.
What sets Aidan's death apart from that of his predecessor and sort-of-namesake is that despite Aidan's deeply ingrained guilt over what he did as a vampire getting some lip service and Aidan approaching his sacrifice as a sort of atonement for his actions over the years, at no point did Aidan's death feel like a punishment for wrongdoing or the removal of a threat for the public good. Aidan's return to the house brought him closer to Sally, not just in the sense that they were reunited in the afterlife, but also as the final act in what was, unknowingly, a team effort between Aidan and Sally when it came to Ramona: Sally unleashed her, but Aidan kept feeding her.
Which brings us back to the house and why it needed to die. Aidan and Sally's role in Ramona's recent rise and downfall effectively drew a line between Being Human's central couples, and even though Nora and Josh received surprisingly little screen time in the finale, this story was as much theirs as it was Sally and Aidan's.
On the surface, the werewolves on Being Human were, with the exception of the psychos like Brynn and Andrew, the most "human" of the monsters. Their curse only became a real pain in the ass for a few nights at a time. They still ate real food. They weren't undead, they weren't immortal, they weren't spectral. They had their packs, but nothing like the vast network the vampires maintained. They weren't magical like ghosts. Josh and Nora eventually became the most "innocent" of the monsters living in Ramona's house of horrors. (Sally started out the most innocent simply because she was murdered and mopey, but she lost some of that through her gradual corruption over the years.)
With Sally moving on and Aidan's human death imminent, the threat that Ramona—the house—had over those two was quickly shrinking, but for Nora, Josh, and their baby, if the house and the thing that lived inside it continued to exist, there would always be a threat. You just know that if that article about the murder in their old house had run a week later, after Aidan had died naturally and boringly of heart failure, Josh would have returned himself and probably died and it would have been tragic and sad because of his growing family. The house had to go, Aidan and Sally had to do it, and Aidan and Sally themselves had to go for the sake of Nora and Josh's family. In a way, it was the same end that Annie and Mitchell experienced in their Being Human, but it was less cynical about why that end must be the end.
So now we say goodbye, and it's sad, because it's sad when things end, but everything has to end at some point and at least Being Human was able to bow out gracefully. If TV shows had souls, then Being Human's would be greeted with the biggest and shiniest door it could possibly receive.
– LOL @ Aidan and the hamburgers.
– What did you think of Josh and Nora naming their kids Aidan and Sally? Too cheesy? Just the right amount of cheesy?
– The music on Being Human has always been so spot-on and the finale was no exception. Shazam was being a butthole, though so I need names and album titles. Kthnx.
What'd you think of Being Human's series finale?
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