The biggest cliffhanger of Off the Map‘s first season is whether there will be a second season at all. With bad and consistently declining ratings, it seems less and less likely, but last night’s season (or series?) finale didn’t tie any of the story lines together nicely, leaving the biggest questions (will Ryan find a heart in time? does Mina love Tommy? will Mateo survive?) unanswered, perhaps forever. This medical drama seemed to have a foolproof formula: a big cast of hot doctors with rippling abs, an exotic jungle setting, and celebrity showrunner Shonda Rhimes to give the show that Grey’s Anatomy and Private Practice sheen. So why is the show flailing, or worse, already dead?
When the show premiered, there was a lot of talk about Off the Map being “Grey’s Anatomy in the jungle,” or, as EW’s Ken Tucker put it, “Grey’s Anatomy with flies.” I’d argue, though, that maybe viewers just wanted another ticket to Shondaland but didn’t quite get one. Sure, Off the Map definitely bears a lot of instantly recognizable Rhimesian trademarks, including earnest, workaholic doctors with insanely dramatic pasts who consistently work on medical cases that lead them to epiphanies about their own lives. But this show seems to flaunt its man candy a little less flagrantly than Rhimes’ other doctor soaps. Yes, Martin Henderson is hot in a Sawyer-meets-Viggo-Mortensen kind of way, but his Dr. Ben is a little bit more McSerious than McSteamy (that was so 2006 of me). Since the very first episode, these doctors have been carrying some serious baggage, which leaves less room for tropical romps, hookups, and breakups. The people who do tune in might appreciate the show’s focus on the characters’ histories, but the storylines at times get pretty dreary, not to mention ridiculous.
Even with the melodrama and the show’s often awkward incorporation of the setting (“an unnamed South American country”), there are still some good reasons to watch: Zee and Otis have developed an enjoyable banter, the MacGuyver-ish medical techniques are cool when fully utilized, and Mamie Gummer looks so much like her mom, Meryl Streep, especially when she crumples her face to cry.
Are you hoping the show comes back, or is this one you can let go of? What storylines do you want to see resolved?