Growing up, I had mixed emotions when I saw that a television show that I liked had a celebrity guest star. On the one hand I really enjoyed seeing the celebrity, whether it was Mr. T or Nancy Reagan. On the other hand, there were quite a few negatives that came with the thrill of getting to see our favorite celebrities on the television shows we enjoy.

For one, there was always the clear fact that the storyline had to involve the ushering in and out of the episode. We knew that there could be no long term relationships between the real characters and the guest stars. I have no idea why I was thinking about such things as a seven year old boy but I distinctly remember sitting there thinking about all of the different ways that the character would have to get out of the situation and be on their merry way.

Secondly, as exciting as the guest stars were, they somehow always had a way of throwing off the narrative just a bit, more so when they were bigger celebrities. A recent example of this was on the NBC television program Go On, in which Lauren Graham was a guest star and the narrative of the series did not seem to move forward all that much — it was more about how much screen time she could get and how funny they could make her dialogue.

Yet another problem that I notice when there is to be a celebrity on a television show is the problem of anticipation. Too often when there is a celebrity guest starring on a show, you spend the entire episode wondering when the celebrity is going to make their appearance and sometimes lose track of the important things like the plot and why you were watching the show in the first place.

Lastly, the problem that I have with celebrities on scripted television shows is that there is a question of what they are really doing there. I understand that movies are extremely expensive to make and that they need all the promotion that they can get, but it puts a bit of a crimp on a celebrity guest appearance when you know that the only reason that they are there is because they want you to see their new movie that following weekend.

Maybe in the end I need to lighten up a little and take celebrity guest appearances for what they are — a bit of light hearted fun meant to perhaps plug a movie but at the same time bring a little spark of change to the television show on which they appear.

2 Comments

  1. I always found the slightly well-known lesser star to be a problem on scripted shows. They’d have a “small” part that ultimately led them to be the Real Murderer in the end! You sit there thinking, “that person is too big a star to have such a small role.”

    Murder She Wrote was a great vehicle for bringing back all the old stars for a new starring role. It was so great to see all the old faces!

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