Name an iconic relationship in a TV show, and I bet you that 3/4 times, it’s probably a toxic relationship.
Maybe not at the end, but definitely in the beginning. And it makes sense, really.
We crave drama and fantasy. We want to root for the relationships that evolve from two people changing each other or defying circumstances or risking anything to be together. We love those hate-to-love stories, where the main characters don’t get together until a few seasons in because they need to change before they’re ready for one another. We want to see relationships with passion and romance, even if they are completely unhealthy and unrealistic in real life.
And it makes for good TV, honestly. A tumultuous relationship ensures viewership. A slow burn relationship ensures loyalty. A stable, loving relationship sometimes does, but usually after a few seasons of heartbreak and betrayal.
Take Gossip Girl for instance. One huge controversy is Chuck and Blair vs. Dan and Blair. My two cents? Dan and Blair have a much healthier relationship, but Chuck and Blair have unrivaled chemistry and I honestly ship them even though it’s so clearly toxic so often.
Another example: The Vampire Diaries…So far, I’m at season 7 and I’ve seen so much that verifies my belief that Stefan and Elena are safe, loving and nurturing, while Damon and Elena are passionate and compelling. So as much as I would probably appreciate a Stefan in real life, I ship Delena hard and my favorite character in the whole show is Damon.
The point is: TV show couples are not “relationship goals”, and I really hope my generation can recognize that before they think that’s the new normal. Although really, I think it depends on the person.
[And don’t worry, that doesn’t mean you can’t obsess over how amazing their love story is]
[Also, some couples are actually really healthy and should be referenced like Betty and Jughead from Riverdale or Nathan and Haley from One Tree Hill]