Screens: Showtime

You Cannot Tell Me That's Jackie's Hair!

A totally sane argument for why long-running shows should be required to update their opening credits.

You know who hasn't had short hair in a really long time? Edie Falco. But if you watch the opening credits of Nurse Jackie, you wouldn't know it.

According to that slow-motion collection of meaningful images, she's still rocking her super-cropped pixie cut from 2009. 2009! When Adele had only released one album and it still seemed plausible that Lost was going to reach a satisfying conclusion!

On the actual episodes, of course, our favorite druggie nurse has gone through all sorts of hairstyles, including the mid-back ponytail that's seen her through her current legal trouble. So why in the world are we still getting the exact same intro from Season 1? WHY?

I mean...look. I'm not a crackpot over here. I just believe that long-running TV shows should be required to update their opening credits sequences.

Because Jackie's hair's not the only thing that has grown! The characters have as well! (No need to applaud my wordplay there.) In seven seasons, everyone from Grace to Gloria (especially Gloria) has radically changed, giving the show an emotional depth I didn't foresee as I laugh-winced through the first few episodes. By not mirroring that change, the credits seems laughably outdated now. It's like putting your fifth-grade picture on your driver's license.

And Nurse J is hardly the only offender. Could we please mix up the introduction to Homeland?

I realize they've made some subtle changes to the snippets of dialogue and flashes of video, but we're still being subjected to a disjointed, acid jazz hellscape of Carrie's disordered mind. Meanwhile, Carrie's mental stability, though still a major factor, is hardly the narrative linchpin it used to be. Yes, homegirl might still end up waving a gun at an apparition on the street, but that's only when someone messes with her meds. Otherwise, her constantly threatened moral compass has become her bugbear, and while I guess you could say the intro reflects that as well, I'd love to get a fresh perspective. (And maybe some different music? Because god help me.)

The same goes for Game Of Thrones.

Like...I get it. The fun digital map shows us the worlds we'll be visiting in each episode, and as the various towers and valleys zoom by, it helps us predict this week's victim of sexual assault. During the first few seasons, when it was still hard for a viewer like me to figure out where the hell anything was happening, the map was useful. But that was then, y'all! This deep into the show, wouldn't it be keen to see, like, visual reflection of the ever-shifting loyalties among the characters?

Historically, I've had similar feelings about Sex & the City (enough with the tutu getting splashed!), Boardwalk Empire, and Six Feet Under. And I'm only bringing this up because I know how satisfying it can be when credits sequences do change. Even small adjustments can make a show feel fresh.

Take what's happened with Veep. Now that Selina's president, the intro (apparently not available by itself online, but borrow your girlfriend's aunt's HBOGo password and check it out) shows us the same graph of her plummeting approval ratings, but it replaces the media coverage of her vice-presidential blunders with new reports on her disastrous time in the Oval Office. It tells us something about the show's cynical perspective that even when the headlines change, the story stays the same.

Meanwhile, the ever-changing chalkboard message and couch gag have become two of The Simpsons's defining characteristics, and Law & Order fans can enjoy guessing the season that's currently in reruns by clocking who shows up in the shooting gallery of cast members at the beginning.

See what I mean? That stuff is neat. And again: I'm not asking for an overhaul. Not every show has to be Big Love, whose credits went from this to this, though I wouldn't be mad if, say, Brooklyn Nine-Nine used Season 3 to drop the now-familiar character reaction shots and give us something completely new. After all, If the content after the credits continues exciting, then our first glimpse of the show should be equally dynamic.