The will-they-won’t-they dynamic is one that is seen so regularly in TV shows, we’re almost shocked when it’s not used. Often it can add a buzz to the chemistry between main characters and form a steady backbone for the narrative, and sometimes shows fall flat when things are developed past a certain point. In recent years we’ve had a variety of these sorts of relationship shown in popular TV shows such as ‘Castle’ where they are now married, or more interestingly ‘The Mentalist’ where it took years of platonic friendship with little to no hint of anything more, before things were completely turned around and they got married in the series finale.
However, now just one week into the new fall season of U.S. TV, I’m shocked at how romances are going when we’re only an episode in.
To my surprise and extreme frustration ‘The Big Bang Theory’ is finally getting somewhere with the romance we have waited so many years for, and then screwing it up. Leonard and Penny finally get to marriage and then somehow have it all going wrong by the end of the episode. The writers are missing a key fact, they forgot that if Leonard and Penny love each other, and they’ve spent the last number of years showing us that they really do, this wouldn’t be going so badly so flippantly. The writers are getting it wrong, where we’ve had so much patience with Leonard and Penny over the course of the show, I lost it within the space of 20 minutes. Not to mention the fact that it’s not the only conscious uncoupling in the show this season. Can’t at least one of those two geeky couples be happy? Especially when we consider that Howard and Bernadette who seem to be very oddly-matched are currently the happiest couple shown, except of course Raj and Cinnamon.
Sadly this week life is imitating art in that Kaley Cuoco and her husband Ryan Sweeting have announced their divorce. I don’t know if marital problems of real life are being consciously reflected in the scripts, but I doubt it, that would be a very strange thing for the writers and producers to do. Their real-life romance was whirlwind to say the least, whereas Penny and Leonard have been at the very least friends for years, so where the real life couple had their weakness should be exactly where the on-screen relationship finds its biggest strength.
On the flip side, this season opener of ‘Modern Family’ showed a far more romantic love story even when everything was already going wrong, and made me root even more for two people who aren’t even close to being together. Hayley and Andy’s will-they-won’t-they-no-he-has-a-girlfriend storyline had me rooting for them from last season and all the way through this seasons first episode.
Now, I know shows often have longer term goals and big picture plans, but an unexpected death or contract dispute could rob them of a character they’re throwing in turmoil. Surely Chuck Lorre should be well aware that he may be forced to completely rewrite his longest-running and most popular show if something unforeseeable happens, essentially ruining all the build up.
What I’m simply saying is this… After so many years, eight full seasons of getting our favourite couple together, with break-ups and problems, finally to the point of engagement and marriage, just to throw them back on opposite sides of that hallway again within half an hour, is simply stupid. Life sometimes happens that way, but that’s not the sort of entertainment I want to be invested in. ‘The Big Bang Theory’ is meant to be one of the best sitcoms in decades, it should be funny and uplifting, and when we invest so much emotionally for the best part of a decade, the payoff needs to last more than a fleeting moment.
Yet I’m a hopeless romantic (or a romantic with little hope) who believes that given the chance, Chuck Lorre will rectify things in Pasadena. Until then, at least I have Hayley and Andy to root for, if it wasn’t for that pesky girlfriend of his… damned Beth!