Commentary: ‘Zach Stone’ & The Perfect Ending
by Frank Martin
Endings are a tricky thing for writers. They spend so much time investing in what happens during the actual story that not as much thought is put into what happens when it’s all over. Great stories have been ruined by terrible endings. Likewise, the opposite has happened. A terrible story can be turned around with a fantastic ending. The difficult part is remembering that stories never really end. After the last page flips or the credits roll, life goes on for the characters. But it’s how a writer leaves that unknown future open that will ultimately decide how strong the story was to begin with.
A great example of this is the Bo Burnham comedy, Zach Stone Is Gonna Be Famous. The show has a ridiculously absurd premise. Burnham plays a teen named Zach Stone who believes he is destined to become famous and hires a film crew with his own money to follow him around.
Despite being absolutely absurd with Burnham’s comedy, the show is a surprisingly touching look at familial support, chasing one’s dreams, and committing to love. Throughout the series, Zach has a friend that he’s in love with, but too shy to express his feelings about. They have a quirky friendship that is often challenged by Zach’s feelings. Not just that, though. Despite being a hopelessly romantic character, Zach is also a narcissist hell bent on seeking publicity and fame. It’s often comical, but it’s also detrimental to his family and friends.
In the end, Zach rejects a call to fame by publicly declaring his love on TV. The heartfelt confession was so moving that it ironically was the exact thing that increased his notoriety. But his friend was also moved by it in a way that made her want to give their romance a shot. In the show’s closing moments, Zach Stone is signing autographs with his newfound fans while leaving the girl he apparently loves to stand by and watch. It’s an incredibly uncomfortable, awkward, and ironic moment. Throughout the entire show, Zach is pursuing two things: fame and love. In the end he gets both, and the audience is left wondering if this happy ending will last. We don’t get to answer that question as there is no Season 2. But we don’t necessarily have to. The ending of the show accomplished exactly what great endings do: it provides resolution for its story while also leaving you with questions for its future.