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When Watching a TV Show Is Like a Screwed-Up Relationship

February 14th, 2012 · 14 Comments

You know how sometimes you feel like you’re in an actual, romantic relationship with a TV show? A few days ago, my friend Casey and I G-chatted about that, and we started thinking about all the different types of TV romances we’ve had. The broken, the beautiful… we covered it all. And just in time for Valentine’s Day!

Which TV relationships would YOU add to this conversation?


Casey: I think I’m about to break up with a show, and I’m sad.

Mark: Which show?

Casey: Dexter

Mark: We never even went on a first date.

Casey: I used to LOVE this show. And then Julia Stiles ruined it for me forever.

Mark: She can do that.

Casey: Hell yes, she can

Mark: Andrew and I haven’t said it aloud, but I think we’re close to calling it off with 30 Rock. Monkey See ran this great piece about how Liz Lemon has devolved from a woman to a little girl, and it really articulated my problems with the last few seasons.

Casey: 30 Rock and I only went on a couple of dates. It’s always been one shade too wacky for me.

Has anyone written anything about these relationships with TV shows, and how it’s like a real relationship? We should do that.

Mark: We really should. I’ve written from that perspective a few times, but never about the actual phenomenon.

Casey: We can talk about how Lost beat us but always apologized in the last three minutes of every episode, and I left but you stayed. And how Dexter convinced me to have a threesome with Julia Stiles, and it ruined our relationship forever.

Mark: Also, I had this tawdry fling with Blue Bloods. I knew he wasn’t as smart as me, but he had this dockworker muskiness that I thought was really sexy. But I knew it would never work. I kept apologizing to my friends every time I mentioned him.
Casey: How about how long I stayed with American Idol because of the potential we had, but how I always knew it couldn’t live up to that potential? Then it got resentful of my expectations and sucked more and more.

Mark: Or how I stopped feeling passion for Law & Order after 10 years, but we stayed great friends until the end.

Speaking of “the end:” I like this line of thought because all these relationships are so wistfully romantic. Inevitably, your lover always dies. You can develop a fondness for their memory every time.

Casey: Or, on the other hand, if they did something that really fucked you over, you doubt that there was anything good about the relationship. Which is totally how I feel about Lost. Now when I think of it, I just feel like an asshole. Like I got duped.

Mark: And then there’s Mad Men, which I just started dating so all my friends would think I was cool. And then, whoops, I fell in love.

Casey: See, whereas all my friends keep saying, “You guys would be perfect together!” But something about it seems creepy, and I’m turned off. And then, there’s Weeds, which I should love, but it has this really annoying laugh… so every time we’re on a date and I hear that laugh, I want to run from the room.

Mark: Oh, and then there’s Glee, which loves me way more than I love it. And which keeps calling all my friends, asking how I’m doing.

Casey: From minute one, I have seen through that bullshit.

Mark: I feel like Smash might be the same for me. But I’m hanging in.

Casey: It’s like that blind date your mom set you up on, the one with the urologist, and every five minutes on that date, he keeps going, “Did you know I’m a doctor?’

Mark: Hahaha! So true. Do you know Downton Abbey?

Casey:I know of it, but I’m resisting.

Mark: Here’s the thing. It seems like a fancy PBS miniseries full of private emotions, but it’s actually a tawdry soap opera. It’s the very definition of “Lady in the streets, freak in the sheets.”

Casey: Fantastic. I think you just convinced me to start watching it.

Mark: You’ll love it. In the very first episode, a bitchy gay man publicly humiliates a cripple, just for fun.

Casey:WHAT? YES!!!! I already love it.

Also, you and I have similar feelings about Six Feet Under. The relationship was so amazing at the beginning, and then there was this period where we secretly hated each other, but were staying together for the kids and the house and stuff. And then, right when we were ready to give up, it made this amazing romantic gesture that made us fall in love all over again.

Mark: Exactly. And I wondered how we could have fought in the first place.

Casey: Meanwhile, SVU is kind of like a booty call for me. Like, when I’m really bored and horny, and I literally cannot think of another option, there’s always SVU.

Mark: There’s probably an SVU episode with this exact plotline: Booty calls gone wrong.

NOTE: That image up there is by Banksy

Tags: Television

14 responses so far ↓

  • 1 benvolio // Feb 14, 2012 at 5:46 pm

    I love this post so much. It’s so true. I broke up with House when he started dating Cuddy; I can’t go with a show that’s going to treat me like that.

    I’m feeling the same doubt about 30 Rock and Weeds; but I usually end up with ‘aah, it’s only a half-hour commitment; it’ll be over soon.’

    Stayed with ER way too long. To the bitter end (and o, it was bitter). But I’d made a vow, and despite it all, I feel a small bit of satisfaction from having stuck it out. LIke caring for a crankly infirm former friend whose days are numbered — you don’t get any pleasure from doing it, but there’s a tick-mark in the karma checkbox for you.

  • 2 heatherkay // Feb 14, 2012 at 6:02 pm

    The worst is when the show starts to change, and the ending is so bad that it goes back in time and retroactively pollutes your memories of the good old days. Were we ever REALLY happy together? Oh X-Files, you broke my heart.

  • 3 Mark Blankenship // Feb 14, 2012 at 6:17 pm

    heatherkay — Yes! X-Files was such a terrible downhill disaster. But oh, those first few years were precious.

    benvolio — That “til the bitter end” philosophy is what kept me going with Law & Order, though even at its worst (in the final few years), it was never nauseating.

  • 4 Andrew K. // Feb 14, 2012 at 8:25 pm

    So bizarre, Julia Stiles was the salt in the relationship (vague Vicky Cristina Barcelona reference) I had with Dexter after he turned a widower, and now I’m still love him but I’m not IN love with him.

    Right now I’m in hopeless masochistic love with Boardwalk Empire. It’s too good for me, and does mean things to me just to mean but I can’t turn away because it’s so wonderful.

    (I liked Community at first, thought we’d be in for the long haul and then it started getting too full of itself. I still keep up because – see above – I’m a masochistic, but I secretly trash it behind its back.)

    I’m still really good friends with Grey’s Anatomy, nothing too heavy but there’s a little love there.

  • 5 Christopher // Feb 14, 2012 at 10:10 pm

    Nip/Tuck… nuff said. And the bitch stole my favorite cuff links. I loved damn those cuff links. (insert light tears and grumbly “bastards”)

  • 6 Charlotte Sometimes // Feb 14, 2012 at 11:32 pm

    I just had this X-Files conversation yesterday! I broke up with it after I found out it was lying about it’s sister. I mean, I know, it’s not like it was cheating on me or anything, but I just couldn’t trust anything it said anymore.

    It did teach my a valuable lesson about mythology-heavy relationships and stopped me getting involved with shows friends were burned by (Lost), so I guess it was worth it.

    Besides, my friend said it’s aged well and is quite the silver fox these days. She said I might enjoy a booty call/friends with benefits relationship with it now we’re both older and I’m less emotionally invested (and more forgiving than I was as a teenager). I might look it up on YouTube and suggest a casual drink. . .

  • 7 Hopeful // Feb 15, 2012 at 2:39 am

    The fandom/relationship meme has been in fandom for a good few years, but I think this is the first time I’ve seen it off livejournal.

    Same thing, though- you look at your fandoms and say which relationship they were.

    Like, Thor is the one night stand that you both knew didn’t mean anything and wasn’t going anywhere, but you had a lot of fun and sometimes you think about calling them up just for another.

    Buffy was the first love, the one that you know intellectually wasn’t perfect, and you had some huge fights with and maybe if you met it now, you wouldn’t have fallen for it, but when it ended, you were both in different places, but when you look back, all full of wistful nostalgia, it feels like it was perfect and even though you know better, it’s still the standard you judge later relationships by.

    And so on… Comics, DCU comics is the unhealthy, borderline abusive relationship that you stayed in way too long because of these wonderful moments and the history you had, even though you knew they didn’t care about you and even seemed to hate you sometimes, and then every time you got out, they told you that they’d changed, they weren’t like that any more, and then you go back in, and maybe you tell yourself “I’m not going to get sucked in, I’m just going in on my terms, I’ll only meet up with them for coffee,” but it doesn’t work like that and you have to make a clean break, even though sometimes you still leaf through old trade paperbacks and remember why you stuck it out so long.


  • 8 ferretrick // Feb 15, 2012 at 7:15 am

    Pushing Daisies was the definition of an 80s chick flick-it came on really strong, and I resisted, but then it won me over, and then at the end of the movie it died tragicly.

    Hawaii 5-0 is that relationship that’s based purely on sex and you really have nothing to talk about, but James Caan and Alex O’Laughlin, I mean, the show is so hot you keep going back.

    And Once Upon A Time is that fairy tale romance, and there’s action and evil queens to vanquish and it’s awesome, but then after true love conquers all and it’s supposed to be happily ever after, you find out the real life part of the story is really boring.

  • 9 Here comes my Glant. | Strings of Thougths // Feb 15, 2012 at 8:27 am

    [...] it. (Yes, I am in a relationship with Glee. And all the other tv shows I watch. I got the idea from The Critical Condition.) And my relationship with Glee is turning into an abusive one. One where he keeps beating down [...]

  • 10 John // Feb 15, 2012 at 4:54 pm

    Oh man, there are so MANY shows I could go on about. (I think that makes me a TV slut.)

    I resisted Community’s advances for years until I finally went out with it and fell hopelessly in love — I seem to be forgiving any and all of its faults.

    Don’t talk to me about X-Files — man that show screwed around with me. It was fine in the beginning but then his true colors showed through: his alien obsession. [You should roll your eyes now. I know I did every time.]

    Pushing Daisies is like dating a teenager with terminal cancer — tragically beautiful and doomed to end abruptly. And you’ll get all weepy every time someone brings it up.

    Same with Firefly — man! Although that one is more like falling in love with someone you’ve only seen in videos after they got hit by a bus. I never saw it on live TV, only once the DVDs came out. In fact, I know of no one who dated Firefly before the DVDs came out.

  • 11 Chaz // Feb 15, 2012 at 5:16 pm

    It was the Jimmy Smits season that broke me up with Dexter–and so I missed the supposed peak of the show, the John Lithgow season!

    I don’t hang in there as long as I used to. I went five seasons with Desperate Housewives, three with Brothers and Sisters, only one with Glee.

    And yet, I am still in with How I Met Your Mother, and I know I should have called it quits two seasons ago!

  • 12 Jessica // Feb 16, 2012 at 4:17 am

    I dated Firefly before the DVDs came out!

  • 13 John // Feb 16, 2012 at 2:28 pm

    Oh, and while we’re on this crazy/fun topic, here’s a related article about how certain TV channels are like your relatives:

    The one about the History channel gave me a laughing & coughing fit.

  • 14 Michael // Feb 20, 2012 at 10:26 pm

    I could talk about my insane loyalty to my teenage obsession-crush, Dark Shadows–ain’t no one can say nothin’ to me ’bout that show. Don’t try! I don’t give my heart easily–and I don’t need to be an adult every day of my life.

    But actually this whole post is depressing me, because of the seemingly endless list of ways relationships go wrong and die. Too soon after Valentine’s.

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