August 29, 2013

Doomed TV Couples - Imminent Break-Ups Don't Keep Me From Watching

Reign premieres October 17, 2013
I read this article about Reign, a show I've posted about before, and I have to say, I think it is a little ridiculous that any viewer would expect a show on the CW to maintain historical accuracy. (And I don't think the CW has to.)

But all this got me thinking: Surely one fact that the writers won't take creative liberty with is Prince Francis's fate. (He dies two years after they marry. And that's not a spoiler, because it's historical fact.) Knowing this, knowing the inevitable break-up of Mary and Francis's relationship is imminent, should we still watch and/or care?

I say yes, because there have been plenty of doomed relationships in television history, and none of them kept me from watching. There are, of course, the relationships that we expect to fail or hope will fail or fear will fail (like Ryan and Kelly on The Office, The O.C.'s Ryan and Marissa, and Lost's Sun and Jin, respectively.*) But I'm talking about the ones we are certain will fail. Like these:

The Anti-Canonical Couple
This is the category into which Mary and Francis fall: Couples we know won't last because their story has already been written and told. If they ended up together, it would go against the canon. A notable example is Smallville's Clark and Lana.
More than a picket fence will eventually separate these two, am I right?
Everybody knows Clark Kent will end up with Lois Lane. But does that make Clark's relationship with Lana unimportant? Of course not. It was a vital step in his growing up, which is what the show was all about anyway.

The Pilot Betrayal Couple
There are some shows that tell the audience from the very beginning who is going to end up with who. Yes, I'm talking about Rachel and Ross. That's why Rachel and Joey are a couple who betray the pilot of Friends.
Ross is fine. Really, he's fine.
Source: Friends Wiki
Cheesy as it was, the pilot's gazing out the window scene set up a romance from which there was no turning back. When Rachel detoured to Joey, fans revolted, but they didn't need to. Rachel and Joey were doomed from the start. Another couple in this category is Gossip Girl's Blair and Dan, since the pilot dictated that the primary romance of the show would be between Serena and Dan.

The Couple Who Wouldn't Have Lasted Much Longer
Then there are the shows that don't last long enough for the couple to fail. The exceptional and delightful show Pushing Daisies (which you must watch if you haven't) offers us an example in this category: Chuck and Ned.
That's about as close as they can ever get, folks.
Their relationship hinged entirely on the fact that if they touched, she would die. Even though Pushing Daisies is fantastical, the rules of the fantasy were inescapable. If the show had lasted beyond its two seasons, Ned and Chuck's relationship restrictions would have stopped being endearing.

All of these couples remind me that knowing a relationship will end doesn't make watching it play out on screen any less entertaining. In fact, in the best written shows, it can be even more entertaining, because we can focus on the details rather than the overarching "will they or won't they" question.

*All in my humble opinion, of course.

No comments:

Post a Comment