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‘Jumping the Shark’ explained

We've all felt that disconcerting moment when a good tv show goes bad. Whether in the form of an unrealistic plot twist, the unexplained replacement of a key character, or a suspicious drift from the original premise, that palatable drop in quality is what tv critics call 'jumping the shark.' The term comes from a moment in the series Happy Days when Fonzie literally jumped over a shark wearing water skis. Until then, he was known for his sex appeal and rebellious nature, not sideshow stunts involving aquatic predators. It was a sign of sorry times for the show, but at least it spawned a catchy industry phrase. A second Happy Days shark jump came with its ill-fated spin-off series Joanie Loves Chachi. What were they thinking?
April 1, 2006

We’ve all felt that disconcerting moment when a good TV show goes bad. Whether in the form of an unrealistic plot twist, the unexplained replacement of a key character, or a suspicious drift from the original premise, that palatable drop in quality is what tv critics call ‘jumping the shark.’ The term comes from a moment in the series Happy Days when Fonzie literally jumped over a shark wearing water skis. Until then, he was known for his sex appeal and rebellious nature, not sideshow stunts involving aquatic predators. It was a sign of sorry times for the show, but at least it spawned a catchy industry phrase. A second Happy Days shark jump came with its ill-fated spin-off series Joanie Loves Chachi. What were they thinking?

About The Author
Selina Chignall joins the realscreen team as a staff writer. Prior to working with rs, she covered lobbying activity at Hill Times Publishing. She also spent a year covering the Hill as a journalist with iPolitics. Her beat focused on youth, education, democratic reform, innovation and infrastructure. She holds a Master of Arts in Journalism from Western University and a Honours Bachelor of Arts from the University of Toronto.

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