I meant to blog on this topic recently when Danielle Bean recently linked an article on a similar topic. The article was on how for so many TV show “supercouples”, marriage is an anticlimactic afterthought reserved for the end of the show, and how so many couples “wait for each other” by going through numerous intervening relationships. If anyone can provide a link to the column I’m thinking of, please do (or I’ll look it up later and edit). Maybe I did at the time, and the intervening incidents made me forget. . . . But can people on TV work together without sleeping together?
I know it’s been an element of shows all along, but there used to be a time when chastity and professionalism were also a factor.
I’ve always liked the romantic genre generally, but I’ve always hated how it seems like the story ends just when it should get most interesting. The conventional wisdom in both TV shows and movies is that marriage is boring. On _Get Smart_, Max and 99 not only got married relatively early in their series but actually had kids. _Hart to Hart_ is a cult classic in part because it depicts a happily married couple (albeit without kids) having a vibrant, romantic marriage and going on adventures (and it’s Aaron “90210” Spelling, no less!)
But what gets me (and Mary) is how *every* character on *every* show seems to have to pair off with someone, and it really gives the impression that you can’t work with someone of the opposite sex without getting sexually involved.
1. _House_: It would be nice if they went back to the formulaic approach of the first couple seasons. House and Cuddy’s relationship is actually kind of interesting, and involves character development. Chase and Taub are sleazeballs. The missing “13” is, too. Wilson’s inability to sustain a relationship–ostensibly because of House but really because of the seeming straight man’s own issues (his first divorce after all having happened before he even knew House)–is an important element of the storyline. But most of the “relationships” among characters seem to have no point other than pairing people up for the sake of doing so.
I never understood Chase and Cameron. I never understood 13 and Foreman. 13’s brief dalliance with Chase was tacky.
2. _Bones_: last year, when they had the episode where Brennan and Booth told Sweets they were totally aware of their mutual attraction but had decided against pursuing a personal relationship, I was like, “Yes! Finally!” It would have been great if they’d dropped it then. Imagine if Brennan and Booth were both men, or both women. Certain trends in our society notwithstanding, the presumption would not be that they should shack up together. (Indeed, as my wife also complains, and as even C. S. Lewis complained back in _The Four Loves_, one of the problems with our society’s obsession with homosexuality is that it’s impossible to have Friendship anymore: every classic friendship is now reinterpreted as closet homosexuality). Why can’t Booth and Brennan just be partners, and professionals?
OTOH, why did Seeley “I already have kid from a failed relationship and I’m Catholic” Booth have to start shacking up with some woman? When they said one of the two was going to have a relationship this season, it would have been much more narratively compelling to make it Brennan.
Angela and Hodgins have a much more interesting relationship, and their story has been enjoyable to follow these many seasons, although some of the stretches (the lesbian storyline, her fling with the intern, etc.) have been perfect illustrations of what I’m getting at in this post.
3. _Royal Pains_: Dr. Hank sure doesn’t show much intelligence or responsibility when it comes to STDs. I still can’t tell the show’s overall time frame. It’s been 3 seasons, but presumably 1 summer, though some events pass like it has been more than a year.
4. _30 Rock_: now that Jack has a wife and unborn baby, I hope he keeps them. Jack and Liz have a great dynamic, but it should work as romantic.
5. _The Office_: Let’s see. . . . Michael/Jan, Michael/Pam’s Mom, Michael/Holly, Jim/Pam, Pam/the first fiancee who was a coworker, Jim/Karen, Dwight/Angela, Andy/Angela, Andy/Erin, Gabe/Erin, Kelly/Ryan, Kelly/Darryl–am I missing anyone? The whole lot of them could be sued for hostile work environment.
6. _Lie to Me_: though Cal just told his daughter he loves Foster, and she asked him why he doesn’t do something about it, this show has to date been very good about demonstrating the boundaries. But if it makes it a couple more seasons, I have no doubt that everyone will be as neatly paired up as possible.
8. _White Collar_: this show’s doing it right. Peter has a good (albeit childless) marriage, portrayed positively and not as “boring.” The nice hispanic agent they had in the first season left so the actress could pursue a movie, and while I wish they didn’t have to have an overtly lesbian character, at least it prevents an obligatory pairing with Neal. In the first season, Neal’s allegedly undying devotion to Kate was downplayed by his flirtations with every woman that came along, but that was resolved by Kate’s death, and thankfully he hasn’t gone there yet with anyone else. It’s a very refreshing change.
9. _Psych_: Real life relationships that parallel fictional relationships don’t often work out (see Cameron and Chase). They’ve done a good job of delaying Shawn and Juliet without making it too absurd, but I was a little bummed they went from 0 to 60, especially when the show has otherwise been showing a positive influence of religion, specifically Catholicism, in the last couple seasons. Other than that, the show has been pretty good at not doing what I’m complaining about here. If it were the typical network show, you’d have had Henry hooking up with the Chief by now.
That is, in general, the interesting thing about TV these days. While cable shows still “push the limits,” it’s interesting that you actually have to go to to cable to find old fashioned type shows like Monk or Psych or White Collar. Mary follows the Psych message boards, and it seems like whenever she complains about the show going too far in some respect (i.e., the episode that showed Shawn and Abby in bed together, or sometimes when they have a bit too much cussing), there’s an outcry about the same thing online, and it’s toned down again. And based upon the followings these shows have among our FB friends, including some of my nun friends, it’s obvious they cater to a more “wholesome” viewing audience.
But the stuff on the broadcast networks just seems to be going further and further down the drain. And this is just the sampling of shows I actually watch. It’s easy to see how this stuff gets to people. I’ve said many times how one of the reasons every person should be educated in fertility awareness is to know how a woman is going to be more attractive to men during certain parts of her cycle, and if people knew to distinguish between genuine attraction or love and the feelings that come from just being in close proximity to a woman who’s literally in heat, I think they could control themselves more.
And in terms of “workplace romance,” it would seem to help if people stopped to think, “hey, if this coworker were of the same gender, would I be interpreting our relationship the same way?”
And if men and women really can’t work together without “hooking up,” then maybe that should be reason to think about why there used to be divisions in gender roles in the workplace . . .
“Oh brave new world, that has such people in it . . . . “