How TV Shows Ruin the Romance

Thanks to the transfer of information from my old laptop to my new laptop taking FOREVER (still going after 46 hours), I finished binge-watching Veronica Mars yesterday (three episodes plus the movie in a single day). Yeah, I really should have saved some files onto a jump drive before I started that process. Today I am being more resourceful than frustrated and working on the blog and from some items in my email.

Anyway … as much as I loved Veronica Mars, it clarified for me how TV shows–due to their long-running nature–ruin the romance.

I guess I should mention before you read any more of this post that if you haven’t watched Veronica Mars, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, or Friends, you should stop now because there will be spoilers. Also, if you haven’t watched these shows, perhaps some of this post won’t make sense :).

Still reading? Ok.

So. Veronica Mars. From a romance standpoint, the first season was pretty much perfect. That moment after Logan jumps in to save Veronica from the guy he thinks is hurting her and they have their first kiss?? Swoon city! There were so many twists and turns to that romance and I was all in for those two getting together at the end of season one.

But then … season two happened and reality set in. Ok, so part of that was how the writers plotted it, but a lot of it was the characters themselves, and even more of that came out in season three. The reality of it was, as much as I loved the idea of these characters, could they really make a relationship work? This is why TV romance often becomes more realistic than the romantics among us may like.

Take me. I love a good romantic comedy or romance novel where they get together at the end and you can blissfully assume it’s all roses and chocolate forever. But that’s not real life, is it? People argue and get past that honeymoon phase where they think the other person is perfect and then they either work through their issues or break up. Which is what happened to Veronica and Logan in the series. I actually thought the movie did a believable job of showing how they could have grown up enough to finally be together. But on to another example.

My husband and I also recently watched the complete box set of Friends. My husband didn’t watch the show when it was originally on, while I was a fan. Anyway, I’m sure you can guess I’m about to discuss the Ross and Rachel issue. What was interesting to me watching the show over again was that as a first-time viewer I remembered wanting them to be together. However, when we watched the episodes in big chunks, I noticed how well the writers pushed the two characters apart in the last few seasons. At the beginning of the last season, in fact, as a repeat viewer, I was almost convinced Ross and Rachel were incompatible.

Now maybe this is also me looking on the show as someone who is married and knows what the day to day is like but still. I also think it’s a reflection on the writing of the romance. The writers had no idea when the show would end so they kept pushing them apart, but the ultimate goal was always to end with Ross and Rachel together. They knew Ross and Rachel were the central romantic conflict of the show and having them actually together would end it.

I’m not sure what that says about us as viewers–that we won’t stay engaged if the characters are happy romantically. Hmmm.

So. On to the last show I’d like to discuss–Buffy. Here’s a romance that was never actually resolved thanks to that Angel spin-off that kind of screwed everything up. I mean, I watched it, but obviously he wasn’t meant to be with Cordelia or that werewolf girl.

Anyway, back to the discussion at hand. This is probably my favorite show ever, but as with the others, I think the romance suffered from the show going on for so long. Once again, we had this issue of reality intruding but for completely different reasons. In this case, the reality of the fictional world. They couldn’t sustain the Angel tension past a few seasons, so they threw in a bunch of imitation love interests. I know a lot of people love Spike, and he is a fantastic character on his own, but I hated when they put him with Buffy. I felt bad for him, but it was so wrong for her. Anyway, the final episode where Angel showed up and they kissed? Perfect ending as far as I was concerned. We can just pretend anything that happened romance wise on Angel after that didn’t. It’s really too bad vampires don’t age and so they can’t do a reunion movie like Veronica Mars.

My point with all of this is that if you plan to watch a long-running TV show and expect that couple you love to stay happily together the whole time, it’s not happening. The writers are going to break them up. It might be for realistic reasons, or it might be fantastical, but they can’t keep them together for more than a season and keep you watching. I love all of these shows, but I kind of hate the writers for what they did to the characters. Maybe that’s part of why I love them so much …

And, yes, friends who have read my current manuscript, I do recognize the irony.

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About Michelle I. Mason

I'm a full-time writer, focusing mainly on middle grade and young adult fiction with some freelance PR writing and editing on the side. I'm also a wife, mom, Christian, violinist, avid reader and St. Louis Cardinals fan. And I watch way too much TV.
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4 Responses to How TV Shows Ruin the Romance

  1. Mason@localhost says:

    Funny last line.

    Greg Mason, CFA

  2. Marianne says:

    At the end of Friends I wanted to tell Rachel she could still catch the next plane to Paris. If a guy’s been telling you in words and actions for years that he hasn’t changed a bit since the last time you broke up, or if he has it was just to get more codependent, don’t give up a dream for him.

    What do you about The Big Bang Theory, though, if you watch it? Even though Leonard and Penny have been on-again-off-again for the whole series, I think the writers have done a good job of showing them having a reasonably realistic, growing relationship, and it looks like that’s just going to continue into their marriage. Now if Sheldon and Amy end up getting married, that might be the end of the series.

    • Agreed it wasn’t ideal for Rachel to give up on Paris. I’m not sure what the better compromise would have been, though, as it also wouldn’t have been ideal for Emma to shuttle between Paris and New York. Let’s just assume she found an equally amazing position in New York :).

      I’ve never watched The Big Bang Theory, but that’s another one I’ve heard a lot about. Much like Veronica Mars, it’s one I may have to binge-watch because everyone talks about it. If I do (which at this point it would have to be next summer after my other shows are finished), I’ll let you know!

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