Time for a ‘Prison Break’-up

Viewer's seven-year-itch kicking in faster

Listening to someone talk about a divorce can be uncomfortable, but sometimes hearing what causes relationships to fall apart can be a helpful guide in avoiding the same landmines.

So here’s a personal confession about a recent TV breakup: After 2½ years together, “Prison Break” and I are finished.

Hey, many of us have been there, wondering how we wound up in this place and what went wrong. At one point — back in the early going, when I couldn’t wait to wrap my eyes around the show — we seemed so copasetic.

These things seldom happen all at once, but there are usually telltale signs the relationship is in trouble. The series just wasn’t making me happy like it used to. One night I had other plans on a Monday, and when I came home, the thought of sitting through that special two-hour “Prison Break” didn’t sound terribly appealing. Pushing “play” on the TiVo felt more like an act of drudgery or obligation than one of enthusiasm.

Were we just staying together because of shared history, or some misguided sense of duty?

In part, this is emblematic of the times. We don’t put up with being unfulfilled the way our parents’ generation did — not with all the options available out there. Back in the old days (circa “Mad Men”), people used to keep the TV on for the children’s sake, willing to watch any old crap. They didn’t expect magic.

Not so today. Those kids usually slip away to their rooms and watch Nickelodeon, or do homework on the computer. When adults are blessed with a little alone time, it’s all about me, me, me, and perhaps as a consequence, the viewer’s seven-year-itch kicks in much faster.

For whatever reason, my needs just weren’t being met. Playing the blame game is rarely productive, but it’s worthwhile for each party to own up to where they bear responsibility for the split. Personally, I’d been devoting a lot of time to work — attending movie screenings, moderating panels, etc. — and became distant, not really feeling like engaging “Prison Break” when I got home.

OK, yes, I’ll also concede that I strayed and had begun seeing another show in the same timeslot, “The Big Bang Theory,” but I swear that really has nothing to do with this decision to move on. (By the way, “Big Bang,” love ya, call me.)

At the risk of being self-serving and defensive, though, “Prison Break” is plenty at fault, too. Seriously, how many hairpin turns and improbable twists was a guy supposed to endure? Going back to prison seemed like a good idea initially, but the emergence of another nefarious plot by a shadowy cabal became increasingly silly, and although business concerns dictated that a major character disappear, beheading her off-screen wasn’t a very satisfying resolution for anybody.

That said, breaking up now — after having made a long-term commitment to a program — is definitely more painful. By contrast, I’m not nearly as emotionally spent after a brief flirtation with “Bionic Woman,” which looked good on paper but — after a couple of evenings together — clearly didn’t have much going on behind the pleasant exterior except for some kind of nanotechnology. Anyway, choosing to dump that airhead was easy, and I won’t be dialing her up again. (Note to TiVo: You can delete that last episode, I’m not going to bother watching it. Thanks, little buddy, and I should be home for “Pushing Daisies,” but please record it just in case.)

“Prison Break” is taking a scheduling siesta until January, but it’s generally best not to skulk around or duck the break-upconversation, so I’m coming clean now. The bottom line is when you get back, I won’t be home. I’d say let’s stay friends, but we all know how infrequently such good intentions work out that way. Time has a way of healing old wounds, so maybe I’ll see you down the road in reruns.

Oh, and not that I’m a fan of tossing around ultimatums, but in regard to having lost that loving feeling, while you folks at “Grey’s Anatomy” are cute and all, consider this a warning.

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