The writers need the tension that the pending romance provides, while the fans want their favorite couples to get together quickly and, after a while, will grow tired of waiting. However, if the characters do get together, often times the tension and chemistry on the show evaporates. Very few shows have been able to pull this off successfully. Most shows only allow their main characters to finally get together as a last ditch effort to save a show when it’s trending toward cancellation.
Castle (ABC) decided to approach this dilemma differently and handles this situation brilliantly. The show follows the exploits of a beautiful tough cop (Kate Beckett) who is forced to work with a self-centered, but gifted writer (Rick Castle). The relationship starts off antagonistically, but their tension is really hiding their natural attraction for each other.
Instead of forcing the audience to wonder if they’ll ever get together, at the outset of the show the producers and cast members have affirmed that the Castle/Beckett relationship will grow romantically and will eventually end up with them in a relationship. There is no “will they get together,” the focus is “when will they get together.” Having done so the writers are now able to allow flirting and foreshadowing without driving the audience crazy. When fans know, without a doubt, that their favorite characters will eventually enter into a relationship, they don’t mind to wait and, instead, enjoy the ride.
The writers are then free to focus on the individual character’s journeys, which is far more satisfying for the viewer. For example, at the start of the show, Castle was in no way ready for a committed relationship, but, over the course of the first three seasons, is slowly getting there. This is juxtaposed with Beckett’s evolution and her inability to commit to a relationship at this time because of the guilt she feels for not being able to solve her mother’s murder – a fact which Beckett told Castle at the beginning of this season. So the expectations are clear for the audience and the characters, yet the flirting continues. The writers have effectively established a realistic timeline for the relationship and that both of the characters need to grow before they are able to be together.
Bones (FOX), on the other hand, has handled this situation horribly. The show is about a brilliant, but socially inept forensic scientist (Temperance, aka “Bones”) and how she solves crimes with a hunky FBI Agent (Seeley Booth). The Bones/Booth possible romance is the emotional anchor of the show.
I didn’t start watching the show until a friend of mine expressed her elevated frustration with the fact that her favorite characters weren’t a couple yet. I caught up on the show by renting the previous seasons, convinced that it couldn’t possibly have warranted her level of frustration. After all it was just TV, right? Boy was I wrong. Not only was the set up for their relationship blatantly obvious, it was the focus of every. single. episode.
For seven years the fans have yearned for their favorite couple to admit their feelings to each other, only to be continuously discouraged. They do eventually get together, but you can tell it wasn’t planned. In between the pilot and their final “get together,” the show has mostly been filled with anti-climactic cases and, more importantly, virtually no personal character growth. It was as if they were just biding their time until they finally gave in. If it weren’t for the fact that the lead actress got pregnant, I doubt they would have gotten together at all. The writers were obviously not prepared for this because the story arc of their relationship did not lead effectively to their eventual consummation. It just sort of happened.
And while fans are happy that the couple is together now, I think they deserved a better ending. Don’t the fans deserve more when they’ve put up with Brennan’s quirks and her unfulfilled relationship with Booth for seven years only to be rewarded with a one night stand that ended in a pregnancy and a relationship in which they agree on little?
I understand when the actress became pregnant that they had to change the course of the show, but still, that is not the ending I had been hoping for, and is no longer a show that I continue to watch.
Almost equally as unfulfilling is the relationship between Ted and his unknown future wife in How I Met Your Mother.
Granted, Neil Patrick Harris, as Barney, is side-splitting funny and the chemistry between the actors is undeniable. But here is what I don’t understand: Ted has a long list of attributes and characteristics of which he is looking for in a woman… a looooong list. He claims that he desperately wants to find this woman and marry her, yet, at the same time, he continually has one night stands and short-term relationships. (They’ve hinted he’ll meet his future wife at Barney’s wedding, BTW).
His uncontrollable behavior shows he has absolutely no respect for his future wife. The show should be titled, How I Hung Out With Friends and Slept With A Million Different Girls Until Uncle Barney Manned Up and Stopped Being A Jerk So I Could Meet Your Mother. When the relationship an entire fan base has been waiting for rests on Barney getting married, a man who has slept with over 200 women and thinks of them as prey…we’ve got a long way to go.
If Ted’s future wife is this amazingly fantastic woman, why does he think he deserves her? He’s been a selfish, immoral jerk who can’t keep his pants buttoned. If she is anything close to what he imagines her to be, then she can (and should) do a LOT better than the lowly, shallow and self-centered Ted.
Creating lasting TV relationship romances is a difficult task and producers and writers approach the subject matter differently, with varying levels of success. Who knows, perhaps it’s because making a successful TV show is so difficult that they don’t anticipate having to drag out an “almost” relationship for long, but when your show is renewed for a third season, you better come to the table with something better than “more waiting.”
Like in real life, people will only wait for so long. Then its off to the next best thing, perhaps to be found with a more satisfying show on competing station.