On Sunday night, the nation – 1 million of us to be precise – sat transfixed and aghast as series five of Love/Hate came to a close. The social media tornado that has consistently circled the drama went into overdrive as both shock and curiosity abounded. Some sought definitive confirmation of the fatalities, while others simply wanted to know how they were going to sleep after it. What particularly interested me, however, was the desire among many to know if there was going to be a sixth series. ‘After that?’ I thought, ‘Surely not!’ And yet this is a question that persists both online and in the media, with some even demanding one.
However, while we may love the programme and even the frenetic energy which fizzes around it, we need to take a step back and ask, is continuing with Love/Hate the right thing to do?
Shortly before the start of this latest series, Tom Vaughan Lawlor revealed on the Late Late that Stuart Carolan had been talking of a sixth, but that it would depend on how series five went. In October, the latter revealed that series six was in development but there was no guarantee that RTE would be on board. However, following Sunday’s finale, it transpires that our national broadcaster is in fact eager to make another series and it’s now apparently Stuart Carolan who needs convincing.
I for one would not like to see another series made, and while this may be an unpopular view, the consequences of continuing deserve some serious thought.
There is no denying that Love/Hate has been RTE’s, and by extension Ireland’s, most popular and successful television drama. However, this is not necessarily reason enough to continue with any programme. What, indeed, is the impetus behind the desire for it to continue? Is it its success and popularity? Is it commercialism? Is it perhaps the fact that it captured the nation’s imagination? Or is it simply that because the programme was such a phenomenal success, we are somehow afraid to let it go for fear we will never see its like again? For Love/Hate to continue on any of these grounds is to do the drama a great disservice. The one and only question that needs to be answered when it comes to series six is, is it right for the drama itself?
Aside from the death and incapacitation of key characters and the unlikely success of others poised for the roles of power, I believe the dramatic potential has been spent. Far from mimicking the dying glow of an ember, however, Sunday’s episode was a firework; a powerful and theatrical conclusion with plenty of pathos and consistently brilliant performances. Despite the drama and bloodshed, it was nevertheless subtle in its portrayal, with the ordinariness of the unfathomable an unexpected but welcome ingredient in its shock factor.
To my mind, therefore, the programme has reached an appropriate and impressive end, and while there are often questions, in this case it’s okay for them to remain unanswered and for certain scenes to be left to our imagination. The unsaid and unseen add their own weight, and you won’t find a more powerful example than Patrick’s words from a previous episode, in which he professed himself bound to any man he has killed from that moment forward, silently haunting the final moments. The whole thing was as perfect as it could ever hope to be.
It’s also worth remembering that it’s often the case that the only fitting conclusion for a drama running over series or seasons with a commanding and central protagonist at its core around whom the drama revolves, and with whom we have travelled a murky road, is that it must die with the death of that character.
If RTE want to explore a world beyond those who have departed and are willing to spend similar amounts on another series, then perhaps investing in a new, unique drama is the way forward. After all, Love/Hate itself had to start somewhere, and risks which paid off had to be taken. While there may be a fear of letting go of an established drama that has proven successful, let’s face it, nothing that could happen in series six could top the conclusion of the fifth, or match the drama in respect of which this was a more than fitting climax. The result, I fear, would only be disappointment.
As much as we will miss it, and might love to see the remaining characters return to our screens, in order to preserve its integrity and its reputation, and to ensure that it goes down in the annals as Ireland’s greatest television drama, I believe that the best service we can pay Love/Hate is for the last episode of series five to constitute its finale.