Anybody who’s been a fan of the “will they/won’t they” dynamic in television has at some point heard of the famous “Moonlighting” curse. In case you need a recap, though, this famous phrase came from the show 80’s show Moonlighting. The show emerged as the first of its kind and initially became famous for the “will they/won’t they” dynamic between the two leads. However, when they finally overcame that proverbial hump the writing for the show took a serious downturn.
The writers simply didn’t know how to handle these two in a relationship. At the time, when the genre was just emerging, the writers had simply become too used to the leads not being together. So when they finally had these two characters “give in,” they hit a brick wall creatively.
Every critic immediately blamed the loss of that dynamic, pointing out that putting the two main characters together had, in so many words: “ruined the show.” Since then any and all writers within television have had this “curse” hanging over their heads. And by course, we mean, of course the fear that once a fictional couple has gotten together, all the fire, spark and creative storytelling goes right out the window.
Well, to this I have to say: NONSENSE!
Content on TV has become varied and wide ranging, especially in the shows hitting the air during the last few years. One of the trends I’ve noticed, and personally can agree with is people really are tired of the “will they/won’t they” dynamic, especially if its unnecessarily dragged out too long. More importantly, certain shows have embraced the challenge of writing couples AFTER they’ve hit that milestone and *gasp* – still have good, compelling stories!
From my experience in fandom, as much as people will openly flail and freak out over “flirtatious moments” and unsolved sexual tension, they find even more immense joy in seeing a couple thrive in their relationship. Granted, not everyone who watches a show analyzes it to bits and pieces on the internet. But if I took a general poll I’m sure I’d find the casual viewers and fandom lovers agree on this one.
I can think of more than one example (which really warms my heart), but there are two I always particularly come back to. The first is Ben & Leslie from Parks and Recreation. Parks and Rec had their own corner of groundbreaking TV (in my opinion at least). However what I appreciated most about it was the balance between all the characters. They didn’t need “will they/won’t they” to inject life into their story, because they seemed to be aware that some of the most interesting and frankly entertaining stories come from a couple that’s already together.
We got to see many of the milestones couples regularly hit lived out by Ben and Leslie, but the show did it in such a heartfelt way we were squealing through the whole journey. From their first kiss, to when Ben proposed, to their surprise wedding, everything about the way this show treated the relationship and gave us all the important moments was perfect. I’ll never forget a single second of it and for that I say thank you.
The other OTP is one I’ve followed in fandom closely, and one that has stolen my heart in the amount of times I’ve died of “feels.” I’m talking about Emma Swan & Killian Jones from Once Upon a Time. This show has redefined fairy tales and put their own twist on things for many years. One of the most wonderful aspects to me is the original fairy-tale they’ve created with these two, and you know what? They didn’t need “will they/won’t they” to last for years on end. (Or hardly at all, honestly)
They’ve faced down monsters, curses and dark magic, and despite all these crazy events they’ve still found time to have a real relationship that just grown. From their flirtatious first kiss in Neverland, to a first date during a snow monster chase, they’ve never had a typical time.
The amazing part is how relatable and human both of these characters are. What they bring out in each other has been so heartwarming to watch, especially after what they’ve both been through. Its been an absolute joy to have been along for the ride so far and I honestly can’t wait to see what’s in store next season.
To make a long story short, am I a hopeless romantic? Oh definitely, but these two fictional couples (and many others) that I’ve loved rooting for prove the Moonlighting curse is firmly in the past.
In this day and age, I truly believe with good writing any couple can work in an ongoing story medium. We want couples that resemble real life, so how about it writers? Let’s embrace the future!