Well what about some of tv's most riveting series that have all those 'The story you were just told is true. The names were changed to protect the innocent' disclaimers? Maybe they were going with that angle?
That's usually the case when a series goes for something more appealing to masses than what made it popular in the first place, spectacle, memes, fandom nods and references as opposed to meaningful lessons, memorable episodes and top-notch writing. When you enter the realm of teenager entertainment, and have to consider them on top of your already-existing audience, you've gotta add in elements to keep them hooked in, and that's what the shift in direction has given us, for better and worse.
It's different, but at least they improved from S3 by actually giving us what we'd like to see as opposed to random episodes that have no reason to exist, yet are broken as hell.