We all have our favorite and least favorite tropes. From love triangles to slow burns, tropes are often the best ways to showcase great characters and storylines. They can also be frustrating and make you question why it is even a trope at all. In this bi-weekly column, we’ll take a deep dive into some of the most classic television tropes.
In a crazy turn of events, I finally decided to watch a new show during quarantine, as I’m basically biting time until Alias drops on Amazon Prime on May 11.
Of all the shows to watch, I decided to opt for another teen drama because let’s be real – those types of shows are my ultimate weakness. And when I saw that Netflix’s new show Outer Banks was one of the most-watched shows on Netflix this week, I thought I might as well give it a shot.
It’s not the best teen drama show out there, that’s for sure. The storyline is a bit flimsy and there is just a lot of chaotic energy that fills each episode of the show. But that didn’t stop my boyfriend and me from becoming wrapped up in it all.
Outer Banks follows a group of kids in – you guessed it – Outer Banks, North Carolina as they try to find long lost treasure. One of the key points of the show is that there is a giant class divide on the island in which someone is either classified as a Pogue or a Kook. Basically, the rich vs. the poor. The main group of friends is considered Pogues and they’re essentially at war with a group of Kooks.
Of course, as with any teen show, there is a romance at the center of it. In Outer Banks, it happens to be between John B and Sarah Cameron. A Pogue and a Kook. Star-crossed lovers.
Star-crossed lovers are a very common trope, especially in teen TV shows. The idea of star-crossed lovers dates way back and the most known example of it is Shakespeare’s “Romeo & Juliet.” Star-crossed lovers is a “couple whose bond of love is destined to fail,” according to Literary Devices.
John B and Sarah’s romance in Outer Banks was one of the highlights of the Netflix series. A totally predictable storyline, but one that I really enjoyed watching play out over the ten-episode first season. It was very cliché at times, but the show did a great job of having their feelings of each other genuinely develop over time despite being from two different worlds. The chemistry between the two also helped a lot.
I’ve always been a sucker for a good ill-fated romance. Perhaps that’s why I love supernatural shows because they’re filled with star-crossed romances. Buffy and Angel from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Damon and Elena from The Vampire Diaries, and Scott and Allison from Teen Wolf are the best examples of how great the supernatural genre is for this trope.
You’d think by how many times I’ve seen iterations of a human falling in love with a supernatural being, I’d be sick of it. But no — I love it.
The doomed aspect of star-crossed lovers followed Buffy and Angel up until their final episode together. The vampire vs. human component of their relationship was and never will be resolved. Buffy will always be a human and Angel a vampire, and they’re either going to have to get over it or move on.
The Vampire Diaries, on the other hand, looked to try to fix the doomed fate of their vampire and human relationships multiple times over. When Elena became a vampire at the end of season three, the audience was led to believe that maybe Damon and Elena could last. But then Elena became human again followed by her being put into an indefinite coma. We were then again stuck with the notion that these two may never get through the hardships and end up together.
However, we wouldn’t love star-crossed romances as much as we do if some didn’t produce happy endings In the series finale of The Vampire Diaries, Elena woke up from her coma at long last. Damon was also given the cure, making him a human just like Elena. It was then revealed that the two would go on to live a long and happy life together.
The last thing anyone wants is to fall in love with a couple in a series only to have them not end up together in the end. But if you sign up for a star-crossed romance, that’s probably what you’re going to get.
While Damon and Elena ended up together in the end, Stefan and Elena did not. If Buffy and Angel ended up together, that would mean her and Spike would not. Although, I think the fate of Stefan and Elena has less to do with them being star-crossed lovers and more to do with being the causality of a love triangle (which I have strong feelings about).
It’s hard to root for a couple in which everyone and everything is trying to keep them apart.
In The O.C., it becomes impossible for Ryan and Marissa to ever live happily ever after. At every junction of their relationship, there always seems to be something bad creeping its way in that damages their relationship. For example, when Ryan and Marissa finally come to terms with their feelings and decide to be together, the infamous Oliver Trask is introduced.
Oliver Trask creates a whole series of problems in their relationship that ultimately leads to their breakup. But he isn’t the only reason their relationship continues to fumble over the course of three seasons. There’s Ryan’s ex-girlfriend, Trey Atwood, Kevin Volchok, and so many others. It was no surprise that these two star-crossed lovers had their relationship end in flames.
Like I said, getting attached to ill-fated romances are tough. Especially when you have Ryan and Marissa as an example of how things could end.
I love this trope because despite how many times it’s been done, you’ll never know what to expect. All the couples I have listed so far have their own unique love story even though they are part of a very common trope.
Hopefully, John B. and Sarah have a better ending than Ryan and Marissa. Otherwise, I may have to rethink whether or not I truly do like this trope.