Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles is really over, and isn't coming back, as far as producer Josh Friedman goes. We asked Friedman about the show's status, but also about its ending and its vision of the future. Spoilers ahead!
Friedman has already said he won't talk about what would have happened in a possible third season of T:SCC, because he wants audiences to imagine their own continuations, based on what they saw. But I did want to ask him a bit about that ending. Here's our conversation.
There's been a lot of talk about moving Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles to Syfy, or putting out direct-to-DVD movies. How realistic is that talk, and is there anything fans can do to make it more realistic?
I know there's been a lot of talk online about moving the show elsewhere but I've said before and I still believe that the show is over. I don't own it, control it, or have any pull with those who do. James Middleton and I had conversations a while back to do our homework in the case of cancellation and didn't find anyone receptive to moving it. There has to be a motivated buyer or seller to make it work and currently we don't have either one.
I felt like it was pretty clear the end of season two was a cliffhanger, with John in the future, but a lot of people seem to feel like it was an ending — that this is how John becomes the Resistance leader he's meant to be. Did you intend for it to feel that final, or were you definitely thinking of it as a cliffhanger?
I think the finale can be looked at both as an end and also as a springboard to a new part of the story—that's what I intended, at least. I wanted to bring an end to many of the questions that I'd raised in the episodes previous but it's dramatically unsound to try and create a rogue's gallery of scenes just to check off every narrative box. I knew there was a chance we were being cancelled but I also needed to let the network see where we could take the story if given the chance. So I tried to close one door while opening another. There's obviously different opinions as to how successful I was hitting that target. But I'm very proud of the episode.
Do you think there's any truth to the idea that in the middle of an economic collapse, people are more interested in upbeat, optimistic stories, and post-apocalyptic tales of destruction and despair are a harder sell?
Do people want more upbeat stories during trying times? I don't know. I think people want more upbeat stories all the time. Sarah Connor's a difficult woman to have in your living room on a weekly basis. But that doesn't mean she shouldn't be there or we shouldn't be trying to tell challenging stories. Episodic television conditions the viewer to expect resolution. You become addicted to knowing the end without paying the price for knowing it. It's death without the pain of dying, dramatic immortality, really. And that's very comforting to people.
I prefer to watch characters try and fail and try again and sort of succeed a little and maybe fuck up again. That's what I want to see. Flawed people trying to figure their shit out. Because that's me. We're not perfect parents or lovers or friends. We're not heroes. But we can do heroic things once in a while, sometimes even on purpose. So TSCC is a sloppy mix of hope and despair and that suits some people just fine and others don't have a taste for it. I've made peace with that. I'm not particularly interested in giving the world a xanax and telling them it's gonna be all right. It's usually not all right. And I don't want someone showing me what it's like to be awesome in the face of hard times. I'm probably not gonna be awesome in the face of hard times. I'm gonna be scared and mediocre and I don't need to feel worse that I'm not awesome. I want to know that scared and mediocre is a reasonable response to hard times and not something to be ashamed of.
But my show got cancelled. So what do I know.