Monday, June 15, 2009

Let's Hear It for Love

I don't know where the crazy idea started that love stories ruin a series. The problem is not the romance itself, or that a series is "ruined" when two lead characters fall in love. The problem is that series creators often don't seem to know how to bring refreshing ideas or new twists to romantic pairings. That's why I'm upset that the "real" pairing of Cordelia with Angel never really took place until her farewell appearance in Angel's Season 5.

Charisma Carpenter herself mentioned in interviews that an honest-to-goodness Angel/Cordelia pairing would not have been a good idea for the series. (Naturally, I can only find one link right now, but I know she's mentioned this in at least a few other interviews.)

The relationship between Fred Burkle and Charles Gunn was the only fairly-developed romantic pairing we saw in Angel. That relationship ended rather badly, mostly because of their immaturity. Most writers (and a lot of viewers expect), that romantic couplings will always be gushy-gooey, with lots of lovers quarrels. Silly little conflicts may occur, like, when one partner starts ordering the other around on the job. Petty jealousies and stupid little misunderstandings tend to crop up pretty regularly. (For example, the man may tell the woman he needs to fly to Vegas, but the woman finds two airline tickets in his pocket. She thinks he's secretly going with another woman, but in reality, he's waiting to spring it as a surprise to her that she gets to come along .) And let's not forget the tired story line about two people who become lovers, break up right away, then can't work with each other anymore.

Why can't the writers have a couple who like each other, can get along with other, and can work with each other without squabbling? I happen to think it's pretty cool when two people are in love and are in a long term committed relationship. Believe it or not, that really does happen once in a while in real life.

Oddly enough, Wesley Wyndam-Pryce's two romances with Virginia Bryce and Lilah Morgan, although completely different, were two excellent examples of romantic relationships that don't necessarily kill off a series. Wesley and Virginia had a nice normal relationship that didn't endanger their friendships with other people, didn't interfere with Wesley's work, and most crucially, didn't interfere with the storytelling. Wesley's relationship with Lilah was totally unconventional and broke a lot of interesting ground in the Enemy Lovers category. Their doomed romance didn't slow down the story arcs at all, and was actually crucial at times to advancing the plot lines. (Wesley's romance with Fred was too short-lived to really draw any conclusions about it, while his potential brewing romance with Illyria would have turned the very idea of romantic relationships completely backwards and upside down.)

Ideally, Cordelia Chase and Angel could have made a great team, fighting side-by-side, with Cordelia trying to keep Angel in check from some of his hare-brained schemes, while he could still swoop in and rescue her as needed. The writers could have mined a lot of ideas about what actually constitutes a real relationship. For example, is it real when someone falls in love with a dead person? Does a relationship need to be conventional in order to last? Most importantly, Charisma Carpenter and David Boreanaz had a special on-screen rapport that I don't think they were able to repeat with any of their other potential love interests. (Although Cordy came close to this with both Doyle and Groo.) Carpenter spoke beautifully about the Cordelia/Angel relationship along with her special bond with David Boreanaz on page 5 of this IGN interview (this should be the direct link to the correct page.)

I don't have a problem with a TV series showing difficult romantic relationships. I just object to the idea that romantic relationships in and of themselves ruin a series. I'm much more comfortable knowing that my favorite characters are able to get some action once in a while rather than thinking that they're living as though they've all taken vows of chastity.

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