Television Justice

My dad, John and I enjoy watching movies. We pop our popcorn, grab our favorite beverage, and sit in the dark night after night glued to the television screen. Our theatrical tastes run from comedies to westerns to documentaries to true crime. We enjoy most any well-written show, and even some considered cinematic disasters by well known critics. 


Mysteries and action shows are probably our favorite. Give us a misunderstood and flawed hero, a cute and charming co-star, and we are good to go. But no matter the genre, we sit back and do the same thing. When we dim the lights and press play, we immediately start our predictions.


“Those two will end up together.” “Oh, he’s definitely a bad guy, no doubt in my mind.” “She’s with that guy, but she’s going to end up with that man, the one in the red shirt. No, the one with the flashy car.”


We shout out our predictions, modifying them as each scene fades into the next one. “Oh, well, that guy’s dead. I guess Trixie won’t end up with him. Maybe she’ll get the flashy car, though.” “What? He’ a bad guy? Man, I never saw that coming.”


Part of our game is pronouncing judgment on the characters, something I like to call television justice. I’ll give the credit to John, and I honestly think he’s the one who started it all. One evening we encountered a villain so despicable that when the writers offed him towards the end, my husband leaned forward and exclaimed, “Yeah, that guy really needed to die.”


That seven word declaration became a game for us, deciding the fate of our fictional friends and foes. “Oh, she’s so sweet, I really hope she makes it to the end.” “Ugh, he’s a despicable person! Oh, he needs to die.”


As with most people, our game can get out of hand. “Honey, your shoes do not go with that dress! That’s a crime against fashion, you really need to die. And take those shoes with you.” Or more realistically, “What? He chained up his dog with no food or water? Yeah, he needs to die. But not the dog! The dog has to make it to the end, and hopefully that nice man with the checked shirt will adopt him.”


This is why God didn’t put us in charge of everything, at least me, anyway—we’re too fallible. If I really was in charge of who lived and who died, I probably would sentence all animal abusers to death. The fashion criminals would be safe though—I’m always kidding when I make those remarks. Who am I to judge? I thought wearing the same color in various shades was a fantastic wardrobe decision, until I was in my early twenties. And don’t get me started on white shoes after Labor Day!


Jann Goar Franklin graduated Russellville High School in 1989. You can reach her at