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 Stana, Nathan, and TV 'Ships

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Beckstle
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PostSubject: Stana, Nathan, and TV 'Ships   Mon Sep 26, 2011 2:02 am

On the recent "Entertainment Tonight" interview, Stana Katic once again made the point that she thinks Castle and Beckett need to move forward in their relationship. Nathan Fillion thinks that they should not. This kind of gender-split on the issue of romantic parings on television is hardly new. In tv, as in life, it seems that it's usually the woman looking at the relationship and saying it's time to move forward. Honestly, I think the reason stories of would-be romantic T.V. couples get screwed up is that MEN are usually writing them. Culturally, U.S. men are told to resist being in a committed relationship as long as possible. It's usually the woman who leads in terms of the pacing in a relationship. Thus, in medium dominated by a male perspective it's not surprising that the general theory regarding couples is that they should be kept apart for...as long as possible. Only when it's felt that every other possibilty has been exhuasted do most shows allow a couple to come together.

In typical industry thinking, letting two characters become a bonified couple is seen either the end game, or more often as the last resort to try and "save" the show. Such thinking fails to relalize that there is no magic in a relationship that feels like a last resort. How special is it for anyone to feel they've gotten something by default rather than by choice? Besides, if a show is at the place where they are allowing a relationship to occur as a kind of "Hail Mary" pass to fix it, it means they've basically already lost the audience.

The irony is that if a show chose to move things forward in a more realistic way, the show would be more likely to air longer and with it's integrity intact. A realistic pairing gives opportunity for new issues to arise and be looked at. When shows stalls and roadblock a relationship beyond reason the quality of the storytelling goes down, even if the show is still airing. This is because the decision to "keep them apart" stifles the story by having to recycle various premises of why a couple isn't together. The choice makes a mockery of the term "character development" because any lessons learned by a character are quickly thrown away in order to keep the show at status quote. This practice is actually standard for a situation comedy. In that format humor is derived from variations on a theme being replayed over and over again. However, in a show that is not supposed to be a sit-com, the practice undermines the sense of reality the show is trying to create.

Unfortunetely, the tendency on shows, and in U.S. culture is to represent commitment as an ending instead of a beginning. Culturally, men are taught that the excitement is in the chase, and then it becomes boring and they have to " settle down." The idea, which fosters the not only the illusion that the early excitment of a new relationship is completely lost once commitmented, but that new types and levels of excitment aren't created with commitment, is a large part of what underlies the reasoning shows see a couple committing as a show's cathartic end. In terms of of storyline structure, I don't think that should be the case because intensity is higher when there's no escape hatch. The tensions of a classic like "Twelve Angry Men" comes from the characters having to stay in the jury room and deal. Once people are committed to being in a relationship they can't just easily walk away from a conflict and the issues and emotions that can arise around a conflict are no less than before. So, although moving a romantic storyline forward may temporarily create some tension relief, it also imediately raises the stakes, creating a space for new tensions to grow and develop. Yet, the on-going belief is that letting the couple come together will destroy all the tensions - sexual and otherwise - that the audience is tuning in for. This idea, sometimes referred to as the "Moonlighting curse," causes shows to continue recreating the same failing pattern of holding out too long, and then blaming the relationship's consummation for the show's demise. Let's hope that Castle is able to break the pattern.
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TinkonBrink
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PostSubject: Re: Stana, Nathan, and TV 'Ships   Mon Sep 26, 2011 7:09 am



I blame over exposure to Disney: *insert singing* "And then they got married. The End."
And classical literature: "And then they were married and went to live at their country estate. The End"

Seriously. happy
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PostSubject: Re: Stana, Nathan, and TV 'Ships   Mon Sep 26, 2011 9:02 am

You DO realize that ABC is owned by Disney, right?
Neutral
Let's hope THAT tradition is left to the cartoons. sad
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