Saturday, February 20, 2016

Dear TV Writers: Your Fear of The 'Moonlighting Curse' is Killing Your Show


When I was a senior in high school, preparing to leave for college, my friend Lauren stumbled into a dilemma. She had been accepted to two different universities, each with scholarships. And she didn't know where to go. Her reasoning was that she didn't want to choose the wrong school. While we had this conversation outside of our church, the youth pastor walked by. Lauren explained her problem and our youth pastor said something that's resonated with me ever since: "Sometimes there isn't a right choice and a wrong choice. Sometimes, you just have to choose."

As a writer, I think about this a lot when it comes to characters and plot in stories. Sometimes there isn't necessarily a wrong or a correct way to end or progress a story. Sometimes you just have to make a decision and commit wholeheartedly. It's the "wholeheartedly" part that television writers often fail to do, and lukewarm plots and character arcs are easily felt by the audience and detested just as much. If a writer doesn't commit to a story or to a character pairing, neither will we. 

But what I've noticed in my time watching and writing about television for years critically is that fear permeates a lot of writers' rooms, and never leaves — especially when it comes to writing romances between lead characters. It's this fear that ends up sinking shows in the end, in ways that Nielsen ratings never could. Over the years, television writers have fallen into this trap, lured there by a lie: if will-they-won't-they couples have their tension resolved and don't have to endure trope after trope of relationship drama, audiences will become bored and the show will sink faster than you can say "Titanic." Writers and producers have isolated this problem and shoved it into a grenade, placed it in the corner of a room, and moved as far away as possible from it.

The problem here is that they've failed to isolate the real danger. While writers and producers have shoved "resolved romance" into that grenade, fearing the day it blows up in their faces, they've not noticed the poisonous fruit they've picked up in its place. It's alluring to writers — to want to smash characters together and then create unnecessary drama, or to ignore romance altogether even though the story is moving in that direction.

And while I ponder what causes writers to become so afraid of writing real, functional romance in television, I find myself moving back toward what is called the "Moonlighting Curse." I'm actually going to break this piece up into three different parts. First, I'll introduce exactly what this "curse" is and why it doesn't exist. Then, I'll talk about how the perception of the curse and its effects have impacted television shows in two different "camps" — either by causing writers to create unnecessary, trope-y drama for established characters, or by causing the writers to forgo writing romance altogether. 

Ready? Set? Let's dive in!

drama boy meets world dramatic dun dun dun

DUN, DUN DUNNNNNNN — THE MOONLIGHTING CURSE EXPLAINED


Moonlighting was a show that ran on television from 1985-1989. It starred Bruce Willis (then still an up-and-coming young actor) and Cybill Shepherd. It was actually a pretty big ratings success. In the course of two seasons, it earned 16 Emmy nominations. Needless to say, audiences and critics alike loved it. (Aside: I've never actually seen the show myself, so this is just based on what I've read.) So, you might be wondering if Moonlighting was such a hit, why would there be a curse named after it? I'm glad you asked!

In the show's third season, the will-they-won't-they tension between Willis and Shepherd's characters David and Maddie comes to a head and they sleep together. After that, the series' ratings began to decline, leading to its eventual cancellation. However — this is super important — a lot of factors played into Moonlighting's eventual end. Cybill Shepherd was pregnant in real life and had to be out of the show for periods of time. This proved to be problematic, as the two main characters were not together for a lot of the fourth season. As you might expect, the editing and splicing of scenes shot pre-pregnancy led to problems, too. Add in new executive producers and a head writer four seasons into an established show, and it's no wonder the series began to sink.

As you might be able to deduce, it was hardly the show's decision to put its two leads together that led to Moonlighting's demise. It's pretty obvious that a variety of factors, most of them outside of the hands of the people writing and producing the show, were responsible for its decline. And yet, in spire of the fact that this is the logical conclusion, so many writers on television today cling to fear of this "curse" and stifle their own shows in the process (then cite the blame on things that were not to blame at all, but we'll get to that later).

It's like... it's like in theatre. If you aren't familiar, there's this legend in the theatre that if you say "Macbeth" while on stage, your show will be cursed. In high school, I performed in the ensemble of Les Miserables (yes, we did this in high school and it was amazing). Someone accidentally uttered that word and the next day, one of the carts being wheeled onto stage ran over a young man's foot, breaking his toe. It was understood that we had been cursed because of the decision to say "Macbeth" and no one even dared to think the word for the rest of the show.

Theatre kids (and even adults) take this curse very seriously, even though in the back of their minds, there's some voice that tells them how absurd it is to believe such a thing. And this is the plague of television writers, too: the vast majority of them don't believe that the Moonlighting Curse is an actual real thing.

... But at the same time, maybe they believe in it a teeny bit. Enough to dictate how they write their romantic pairings.

Image result for drama drama drama gif

BABY MAMA DRAMA, UNNECESSARY FIGHTING, AND SCANDALS HOW NOT TO WRITE YOUR FICTIONAL COUPLE IN A FEW EASY STEPS


Okay, so now that we've discussed what the Moonlighting Curse is (and how it's not actually a real thing at all, just a long-held superstition that even the creator of the show denounces the validity of), let's talk about how it impacts the shows that we love dearly. First, let's talk about how the fear of this curse impacts the writing of "will-they-won't-they" pairings when the writers are finally brave enough to get the characters together. We'll pull some pop culture examples for this one, so settle in and listen to me ramble about how I watch far too much television, won't you?

I was thinking about the Moonlighting Curse as I wrote this week's (bitter) review of Arrow. The writers were brave and bold at the end of last season by not only putting hero/vigilante/eventual Green Arrow Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) and technical genius and fan-favorite Felicity Smoak (Emily Bett Rickards) together after a few years of tip-toeing around commitment, but also by literally sending the pair off into the sunset. At the start of season, Oliver and Felicity were experiencing domestic bliss — brunches, farmer's markets, souffles, and the like — having given up their life of hunting and catching bad guys in favor of a simpler existence. But when the pair returned to Starling City in the season premiere, the writers began to fear that writing the pairing outside of a comfy, cozy life would become stale for the viewers. (I assume this is what happened, because nothing about the rest of the season makes much sense anymore.)

I said in my Arrow review something that I will repeat verbatim here. I think it's worth reading for everyone who wants to become a television writer or is currently a television writer. Are you leaned in close enough? Good, because I'm going to shout this anyway:

Here's a novel concept: if television writers spent time figuring out what made their characters interesting and then wrote THAT [...] we certainly wouldn't need to fear a stupid "curse."

When writers make the bold decision to put their "will-they-won't-they" tension-filled couples together, I believe that on some level (either conscious or subconscious), they begin to frantically worry that the couple being together won't be enough for the audience. On one hand, I can understand their dilemma — sometimes, the very thing we champion for and yell that we want becomes a lot less interesting once we have it in our hands. But this way of thinking, while understandable on some level, is not a reason to interject unnecessary drama just for the sake of having drama. Television audiences are intelligent. We follow character arcs and journeys for a reason. This is the stuff that speaks to us and moves us. We are not petulant children, begging for dessert before dinner — we don't ask for couples to get together because we want to see a repeat of what they went through to become established. THAT is the fun of the "will-they-won't-they," after all.

We don't want writers to repeat that same drama-filled path that led us to our favorite couple getting together. We want the kind of drama that develops organically from the now-established pairing that we didn't get before.


So how does this apply to Arrow, you ask? Well, the writers decided that this season — instead of organically developing something that would happen and would be in-character for both Oliver and Felicity — they would introduce a "secret child" storyline. It's a trope as old as time itself, and — for all of that time it has been around — is generally loathed by audiences. We roll our eyes, because this is not the kind of drama we care about. This is soapy drama for the sake of drama. Moreover, it's EASY drama. It's low-hanging fruit. It's so overwrought and overdone that we have stopped responding to it with anything other than knee-jerk abhorrence. The problem though isn't inherently tied to the trope (though it is problematic), but in the way that this "drama" regressed Oliver. Oliver, a character who had immense flaws and problems last year and was just becoming a more well-rounded, progressed character this season.

I have a lot of hatred for this storyline not because it drives a completely absurd and frankly stupid wedge between a pairing that would have been way more interesting had their drama developed organically. No, I hate it because the problem with the fear of the Moonlighting Curse is that it causes writers to do really, really dumb things that only end up hurting their shows in the long-run. And these things? The writers then attribute the show's problems or lack of critical acclaim to the last bold move it made. And that is — you've guessed it! — the choice to put a couple together.

New Girl had similar problems when it decided to put the idealistic and bright Jessica Day (Zooey Deschanel) and lovable slacker Nick Miller (Jake Johnson) together. The two kissed at the end of "Cooler" — one of the most highly-praised episodes of the series. In a bold move, the series finally decided to act upon the tension that had been present between these characters since day one. Much like on Arrow, it became apparent that the actors had a kind of chemistry and spark that lit up the screen. And New Girl's second season — everything after "Cooler," really — was highly praised by fans and critics alike.

But then something happened: season three, specifically. With Nick and Jess as an established couple, New Girl began to teeter in both ratings and critical acclaim. It was losing its magic, in the eyes of the audience, and the show (and viewers) unfairly attributed it to Nick and Jess getting together. So the show broke the two up, and the show has been on an upswing since. Now, I don't think that Nick and Jess getting together ruined the show. At all. The series' regression of Schmidt and writing of his villainous arc did. Separating Nick and Jess' stories from the loft did. The show not knowing how to utilize Winston well did. Just as Moonlighting wasn't axed because of its two characters consummating a relationship, New Girl didn't falter because of the main characters' relationship.


And yet, it doesn't really matter, right? It doesn't matter WHY a show fails, just as long as writers and audiences have something to easily pinpoint and blame. But what they don't realize is the fact that their inability to accurately pinpoint an issue is the very thing causing their show to slide and falter. It's not Oliver/Felicity that is killing Arrow — it's the fear the writers have that simply writing Oliver and Felicity as they are won't be enough. It wasn't Nick/Jess that doomed New Girl's third season — it was their inability to properly integrate them into the show that did.

The danger in the Moonlighting Curse is that it is not real, but it is often treated like it is.

There are numerous more instances I could talk about in regards to how writers believe that putting "will-they-won't-they" pairings together will doom their shows. But let me just take a moment to talk about an example of how this worked and worked well for one particular show: Parks and Recreation.

On Parks and Recreation, NBC's hit gem, overachieving Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler) and adorably geeky accountant Ben Wyatt (Adam Scott) had a "will-they-won't-they" relationship, culminating in the two dating briefly before they realized they couldn't be together. But when the show put the two characters together again shortly thereafter, there was no question in showrunner Mike Schur's mind: they were going to stay together forever. The characters married and that was it.

Did the show ever have Ben cheat on Leslie? No way. Did Leslie ever lie to Ben and keep a secret from him? Nope! In fact, whenever these two characters endured trying situations or potential job offers, they faced their issues together. Ben always defended Leslie and Leslie always supported Ben. They fought sometimes and they didn't always see eye-to-eye. Ben would have to talk Leslie down if she was being too overzealous, and Leslie would have to liven Ben up when he needed encouragement. Ben and Leslie are one of television's most beloved pairings, and I believe that the reason is because they are flawed but entirely real.

The Parks and Recreation writers never felt the need to throw unnecessary drama or scandal into the Ben/Leslie romance, because they realized something fundamental — their characters were more than enough! Ben and Leslie are each such nuanced, funny, wonderful, entertaining characters. Why would the writes even need to think about driving a wedge between them? There was never a need. The writers of the show remained true to their characters and didn't worry about some silly "curse" being cast over them. They were confident in who they created their characters to be, and more confident in their audience's love for them.

There was no fear. And THAT is why the show remained such a success.


CAN'T (WRITE) ME LOVE


Now that I've talked a little bit about some shows that have incorrectly deduced that putting their own characters together and letting them just BE won't engage audiences, let me talk about the other end of the spectrum here for a moment. I'm going to now talk about how the Moonlighting Curse can impact a television writer's decision to write romance — namely by not writing it at all.

That's actually a tad misleading though. I think you would be  hard-pressed to find a show on television these days that didn't have a romantic element to it, even if the romance isn't between the two main characters. Romance is simply a part of life and to remove it from a show altogether is to remove something fundamentally human from your show. What I'm actually going to talk about his how the Moonlighting Curse causes writers to get trigger-shy when it comes to writing "will-they-won't-they" pairings. I actually wrote a lot about this in another piece I did, and I'll try not to repeat the concepts I outlined there too much, but I do want to provide examples of this problem as well.

Because it really is a problem. Shows that know they have a "will-they-won't-they" pairing on them and refuse to write that pairing truthfully and fairly often garner just as much backlash from critics and fans as shows that write the pairings with soapy drama interjected (i.e., the problematic writing in the shows I noted above). The problem, as I hopefully explained earlier, isn't even the acclaim. It's the matter of not remaining truthful to the characters the show has created.

Let's look at two specific examples of this. First, the case of Community. I've talked about this show extensively enough as it is, so I'll just highlight the problem with the show not getting its snarky former lawyer Jeff Winger (Joel McHale) and perky, overachieving perfectionist Annie Edison (Alison Brie) together during its run. For a sitcom that tackled everything from paintball homages to claymation episodes and a "clip show" created entirely of new scenes, Community had one giant stumbling block — its inability to write romance.


A lot of this stemmed from the imbalanced writing staff (over the years, the staff went from about a 50% male/female split to a sad 95/5% split in the final years, with the majority being — of course — men), and a lot was because of emotional issues the creator Dan Harmon had. Hailed as a creative genius, it's pretty clear that Harmon had a lot of romantic problems of his own which translated to the screen. He firmly believed that romance killed comedy and that it was far better to have a show in which he teased romance but never followed through.

Such was the case of Jeff and Annie, a pairing divided by an age gap but brimming with chemistry. Jeff's love interest was originally supposed to be the blonde-haired activist Britta Perry (Gillian Jacobs), but when chemistry between Joel McHale and Alison Brie sizzled, the show recognized the potential it had. As you might guess, the Moonlighting Curse gripped hold of the writers' room, and strangled them. The worst part about the fear of this curse was that it caused Community's writers to often neither really progress nor really regress Jeff and Annie. They simply remained stagnant... all the while being teased to the audience.

Harmon and his writers loved to bait and switch the viewers, especially those who loved Jeff/Annie romantically. For every scene with a touch or a glance or a sweet line of dialogue, there was another where a character pointed out the characters' age gap, or where something along the lines of "creepy" would be mentioned or Jeff/Britta's romantic history brought up. In being noncommittal, Community ended up dooming itself in the romance department.

Similarly, Suits' inability (or unwillingness, perhaps) to commit to a romance between smooth-talking lawyer Harvey Specter (Gabriel Macht) and sassy, whip-smart legal secretary Donna Paulsen (Sarah Rafferty) is causing issues for the show. Recently, Gabriel Macht was interviewed and noted that he believes relationships between main characters on television shows should not happen. His argument was one that seemed to stem from the long-held fear of this "curse" — that the fun and magic is in the chase, not in the relationship.

And over the course of five years, the show has progressed with Harvey/Donna, only to regress the following episode. This, of course, is slowly strangling the character development of the two characters. The fear of the Moonlighting Curse is a thing that can take hold of and choke the show — there is no doubt about it. And so, out of fear of writing a relationship "wrong" or losing viewers because of committing to one pairing over another, some shows like Suits and Community choose secret option #3 instead and forgo writing romance altogether... but keep the spark of the "will-they-won't-they" alive by never fully taking a plunge.

Though that seems like a "safer" bet, it's actually more dangerous than the option I presented earlier of writing a pairing with unnecessary drama. For all of the faults of Arrow's baby mama drama storyline this season (and boy, are they numerous) in regards to Oliver/Felicity, I can at least acknowledge the fact that the show was bold enough to put the two together early in the series' run. The same holds true for New Girl and every other show that commits to a pairing, in spite of rocky writing.

   

Shows that refuse to commit either way are simply lukewarm. And the problem with lukewarm pairings is that the audience KNOWS they are lukewarm. Frustration mounts and anger builds as characters seem to do erratic things from episode to episode. In this season of Suits, Harvey told Donna that he loved her, tried to take it back, made heart-eyes at her episodes later, and then — just two episodes ago — talked about being in love with another woman. If it doesn't seem like those moments connect, it's because they don't. They're not a cohesive story, and in order to write romance well, there has to be some semblance of a projected movement or direction. When stories become aimless — when shows fear committing to romantic pairings — they doom themselves.

But at least in this case, the shows can't blame romance for their failures, right?

WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?


There are so many shows on television that I watch these days, in general, and so many that I witness falling into these traps. The 100 has written Bellamy and Clarke as potential love interests, but waffles between love triangles (and squares) so often, that it doesn't want to firmly place itself in anything yet. That's proving to be problematic, as conflicts between characters are being written simply to drive wedges between them, while the character development suffers at the hands of such storylines (I am looking at you, people who are writing Bellamy Blake this season). While it might seem harmless to have a scene of Clarke and Bellamy making heart-eyes at one another, and while shippers eat this kind of stuff up on Twitter and Tumblr, when the dust settles and the next episode features a Clarke/Lexa romantic moment, it's easy to understand why viewers are frustrated. Pandering to shippers never ends well, and even if The 100 doesn't want to commit to a romantic pairing at this moment, it should at least try to remain true to its characterization. Having Clarke go from hating Lexa in one episode to falling for her the next isn't character progression — it's bending a character to fit the story a writer wants to tell, rather than let the character dictate the story.

On The Blacklist, it's clear that Donald Ressler and Elizabeth Keen have chemistry, but the allure of creating a love triangle was too strong to pass up. Characterization of Liz was sacrificed for the sake of drama. Two steps forward and two steps back seems to be the song Scorpion is playing when it comes to Walter and Paige's relationship, and the show is unsure whether or not it needs to commit or not. The dance — while not falling directly into either of these categories right now — is hanging in the balance, and needs to find some sort of progression soon, lest it become stale and trite. (Same thing on Jane the Virgin, which — thankfully — decided to add a new love interest to the mix in order to prevent the triangle element from recurring. Again.)

Romance isn't easy to write. It's difficult to find the balance between humor and heart in comedies, and it's easy to step over the line and into melodrama and soapy on dramas. But as we noted, it is very rarely the fault of a ship that dooms a show, and is — more often than not — the fault of writers themselves. Audiences must remember, however, that even the most well-written shows are prone to missteps. We should not be so bold as to demand something that a show cannot deliver, and we should not be disappointed when the "will-they-won't-they" tension is resolved.

Instead, we should not see the Moonlighting Curse as a curse at all. We should see it as an opportunity — a chance to right the wrongs of generations of television series before us. We should recognize it for what it is: a false belief that peppers our culture and causes writers to do foolish things in the name of preserving their show for as long as possible.

If we can continue to debunk the curse in writers' rooms and critical circles, perhaps it can be put to rest once and for all.

close call relief sarah chalke phew sweet relief

12 comments:

  1. Thank goodness I don't watch that much television (it would kill me) but I do watch Suits and have become increasingly frustrated over the feeling that the writers seem to back tracked every time there is some sort of progress with Harvey and Donna. It first became really obvious for me when in s5a Harvey slept with Esther (Louis's sister) just after a very poignant scene in the boardroom where Esther is arguing over her divorce with her ex husband and Harvey stares at Donna across the window, full realization hitting him.
    And then the showrunner said something like yes always two steps back lol
    I'm OK with slow burns but if the writers are still being ambiguous five years into a show run I just feel like they are playing with my sanity and it ruins my enjoyment.
    I think this also applies to people who don't "ship". My 65y old parents watch the show and after 415/416 they just expected progression with Donna and Harvey. Here we are one year later and he pours his heart out to...Scottie?
    Even if that conversation was ambiguous and maybe it was just meant in a patching things up/ making things right kinda way, that's is NOT the conversation viewers have been waiting for.
    Viewers are still waiting for that Donna/Harvey conversation that never happened after 416...it's tiring.
    -Fantomette

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  2. In regards to Harvey & Donna, as a viewer I would like to see what a romantic relationship would be like for them, but as a writer I would do exactly as the Suits team have done, that is, keep them as a team in the office and nothing more.





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  3. I couldn't agree more about Bellarke and Clexa. Jason Rothenberg always say taht he doesn't pander to fans or do fan service...until you realize that he actually does. The way Clarke forgave Lexa in a matter of minutes is not realistic nor does it make sense. She spend a year hating on Wells when she thought he was responsible for her father's death and look at how badly she treated her mother. I do believe that Bellarke has been progressing more and more from day 1 to today. But at this point, I feel like he gives little things here and there just to keep us around. I don't know about you but I'm freaking TIRED to see them being separated over and over again. I'm starting to feel like that this is the only way they've find cause they know that once they're together they're just eating the screen with their chemistry. While I have accepted that Clexa is likely to happen, I feel like this is bad writting, forced and just Jason and some of the writers little fantasy. They don't give a damn about remaining true to the characters and their development. Jason is SOOOO PANDERING to fans.

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  4. What you said about The100/Bellamy & Clarke is spot on!

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  5. I'm joining you on the fact that I watch too much television... I see/saw almost every show in your list.

    I totally agree with you in everything that you wrote.

    I agree that Arrow's problem it's not having Oliver & Felicity together, it's not knowing how to write them out of their "comfort zone".

    I love Nick & Jess in New Girl.
    I started watching the show because of them.
    Because I saw a video of them on youtube and I freaked out about their first kiss.
    I don't think they are/were the problem of the show.
    For me, having them together was what make me watch, so, having them apart was what make me stop.

    I will now talk about The 100. Because what you wrote is what I think everytime I try to watch season 3.

    The 100 was one of my favorites shows.
    I was always anxious for what was going to happened next, I was always excited for the next episodes.
    I am a Bellarke fan.
    I am really active on the online fandom of the show, I have a page about them on tumblr and on facebook. I have a group on facebook about Bellarke.
    Basically, this is the fandom where I am (was) more active.
    Until this season.

    What they are doing to this season is frustrating.

    The way they are changing both, Bellamy and Clarke characters development, without any logic explanation, pisses me off.

    Everything that I loved about the show is ruined because they are trying to force something that it's rushed and doesn't make any sense.

    ESPECIALLY after the season finale of season 2, where Lexa left Clarke and everyone else to die in Mount Weather.

    Clarke is the character that doesn't know how to forgive easily.
    Since season one.
    She didn't forgive Wells until the day before he died, only forgiving him after knowing the truth about what happened in the Ark with her father.
    She didn't forgive Finn until the moment she had to sacrificed him.
    She didn't forgive Murphy.
    AND WORSE, she never really forgive HER MOTHER, for everything that happened.
    This is Clarke. The character that doesn't forgive easily. The character that hold grudges FOR YEARS, with the person who she was more close to (Wells and Abby).

    NOW, for the sake of a rushed and poorly constructed ship, in one episode we have Clarke spitting in Lexa face, saying "YOU BITCH! I WILL KILL YOU!", and in the other we have Clarke worried about her like "OMG YOU'RE GOING TO DIE IN THE BATTLE.", treating her hound like everything shitty thing that Lexa did to her and her people has been forgotten.

    Clarke WAS my favorite character, but now, seeing her so out of character for the sake of the Clexa fanfic that The 100 has become is making me HATE HER.

    And the way the producer and the writers treat the fandom, ESPECIALLY the Bellarke fandom, it's even worse.

    Jason Rothenberg is always saying "Oh our show it's not about romance." "We don't care about ships." "If you want to see Bellamy and Clarke together go read the books." "We are a sci-fi show, romance it's not important" - and all of this is bullshit.
    Because like it or not, HE MADE HIS SHOW ABOUT SHIPS THIS SEASON.
    That's why they are ruining Clarke for the sake of the Clexa show, that's why they are ruining Bellamy for making Lexa look better.

    I stopped watching the show because I want to watch The 100, not The Lexa/Clexa show.

    I really don't care that we don't have Bellarke as romantic relationship (YET), I'm a fan of the slow burn to be honest.

    What I do care is that they are ruining my favorite characters and make me hate something that I once before loved, because of Clexa & Lexa.

    Sorry for the long comment.

    And again, thank you for writing this amazing piece. I wish the writers from the shows above read it to know how wrong they are.

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  6. The only reason people see Clarke/Bellamy as romantic is because it's a man and a woman. If it was two women or two men, no one would think they are romantic. There's been zero hint of romance on the show between them at all, it's all been platonic. All signs have pointed at a Clarke/Lexa romance. The writers have reiterated several times that they don't do triangles after the Clarke/Finn/Raven one in season 1. Any "romantic" vibes between Clarke and Bellamy are the viewers interpreting them that way, not the writers making them romantic. Maybe one day, but everything so far has been platonic.

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    Replies
    1. ... We're watching completely different shows.

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    2. Hey, you made some great points behind your opinion, but your first two sentences ruined your argument because now you just seem like an angry, irrational fan looking for any illogical excuse to hate on a pairing.

      You shouldn't assume homophobia. That's really disrespectful. I am bisexual, and I love Bellamy and Clarke over Clarke and Lexa and so do many other LGBT+ fans. I can tell you, I like it for the chemistry between the actors. I pride myself on being hard to impress with romances. It takes a lot of chemistry, characterization and plot to make me like a pairing. Bellamy and Clarke have met my standards (until S3) and its not because they are m/f.

      Please try to be a little understanding in the future. It's so easy to hate, but far more worthwhile to be kind to others. I can respect Clexa as a representation of a bi/lesbian couple that totally kicks ass, and I like Lexa and Clarke as individuals, but I have reasons behind my opinion of not liking them just like you do, but I'm not going to insult the pairing with a blatantly idiotic insult to the fans of it. Thank you for reading this and I'm sorry if it came off as rude. It just really hurts to have something assumed about you when it's not true. I'm sure you've been on the receiving end and it is unfair and not nice.

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  7. Because of stories like the baby mama or the fear of putting the couple together that I start to lose interest in American ships, and I continued to seek alternatives in Kdrama at least the otp here don’t have enough time to be spoiled. (and they’re amazing).
    Some writers should take a look at the most consistent couple on television at the moment: Kensi and Deeks (NCIS: Los Angeles), they’re giving a lesson in how to write a couple, just like Oliver, Deeks also had a secret that could destroy his relationship with Kensi, and what did he do? He told the whole truth to her, it took a while (and when I said a while, only a few episodes) because he was afraid, but then he was completely honest, and the beauty is that Kensi knew the truth the whole time, she was just giving him space and waiting for him to reach for her.
    Something that Felicity also didn’t do in the crossover with Flash, she needed immediately confront Oliver. She should gave him a space for him to process everything, sometimes you have to do it alone.
    About Jeff & Annie I never had a problem in not putting this two as a couple, I liked the hints and all, I never needed them to give the next step and I don’t know if I fit the dynamics of the show. #sorrynotsorry.
    The same thing is with Donna & Harvey, I wouldn’t have a problem with not putting them as a couple, the dynamics that they shared has always been more important than this, they just needed continue doing what they were doing and I would be happy, but the writers had to put the "i love you", and by taking the next step, they just need to follow the nature course of this step, but they backdown, I mean, really? That's what I didn’t liked. In community they never taken this step with Jeff & Annie.
    With New Girl the only interesting thing in the third season was Nick & Jess, when the writter broke up them, I almost stopped watching the show.
    I have to disagree about Jane the Virgin, I think it's clear that the writers have chosen a person in the love triangle, Michael, and they’re building the romance of them since the last episodes of the first season, they practically crash and burn Jane & Rafael. And they’re re-build Rafael & Petra.
    But fans are quite impatient too, they think that has to have their otp scene in all episodes, they have to get together immediately, so many don’t want to give space to see the big picture where writers want to reach.

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  8. Sadly, I have thought way too much about this topic. My trigger for massive frustration was New Girl. I have no problem if a show tests the waters and puts the show's main characters together to see how it goes. What I get upset about is when from the VERY beginning...like The Pilot...they make it painfully obvious that two characters are destined for each other. New Girl spent the whole first season making it obvious how Nick and Jess were exactly what the other has been looking for. I won't go into the list of times Jess described her perfect man to be exactly Nick. So what upset me about this was that they got the audience (well, me) heavily invested in their relationship. After Cooler to the end of the season 2 was magical. And honestly, as you said, their relationship was sweet and funny and I thought their growth was entertaining. But Schmidt's character and the seemingly separating Nick/Jess story from the other's story is what did them in (you explained it better than me). Also, both Nick and Jess were growing up as they progressed in their relationship. They both expressed how neither had been so happy. So what really turned me off, was the WAY they broke them up. Basically, after a night of drinking and being totally hungover, they break up...over nothing. All of the sudden, after 2 seasons of telling the audience how perfect they are for each other, all of the sudden Nick (especially) decides his immaturity and quirks were more important than fighting for Jess. No, individuals in a couple should not have to fundamentally change themselves to make the other happy. I get that. But up until now they both not only accepted the other's flaws, they endeared them even more to each other. Until the writers decided they couldn't write good funny story lines with them together and just randomly decided to change this aspect of their characters. And what REALLY made me mad is all the progression of these characters (again, especially Nick) started to regress. Instead of maturing, Nick became a juvenile joke. And I LOVE NICK. Yes, his silliness can be funny. A grown man acting like a teenager who doesn't know how to live in the adult world can be funny. But it's not the person I fell in love with. Nick was a grumpy old man in a young man's body because of some real issues from his young life (his relationship with his dad). And his role in the loft was sort of as the voice of reason and the adult in the room. Now, he's just the irresponsible and annoying teenager with the Peter Pan complex that doesn't want to grow up at all. Again, all of this may have been all well and good, if he was always that way or if they didn't get us invested with the hope of him growing up and being with his perfect match in Jess, I would have been fine. I always sort of wanted Jerry and Elaine together but the writers never teased us that this was inevitable for them. So it didn't bother me one way or another on how their relationship developed. Finally, your assessment is spot on and I really appreciate you putting into words something that has been on my mind for quite some time. Ben and Leslie are the example I use for the OTP that was done to perfection. I think comedy writers are even more fearful than drama writers because they are tasks with keeping it FUNNY as well as keeping it real and honest. So IMO they are even more reluctant to deal with relationship pairings. But the P&R team really schooled comedy writers on how it's done. Wish more would listen.

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  9. One of the things with "Moonlighting" was also that the show was hit with the 1988 strike, so they didn't have episodes they could tape. Also there was fighting behind the scenes which didn't help what was happening on camera. Early episodes of Moonlighting are available on DVD, the show is fun though not at all up to date with what goes on in programming now.

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  10. This is a great article!! You've laid it all out so well. It's something that has been prevalent in writers' rooms for decades. Unless a show is about marriage, they don't think that it can sustain what it takes to get the characters to the altar, and isn't that a lot of drama and interesting story in and of itself? It's interesting what's happening on The Mindy Project too right now. The fact that Danny and Mindy finally got together only to have that not last and have her start something up with someone who is very similar to Danny (and somehow make me like her with anyone but Danny...) I wonder if the writers are in successful relationships or if this mirrors their inability to pair up in life as well. (I'm sure it's not.)

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