I don’t know about you, but I am currently basking in some serious afterglow. Vicarious afterglow, that is.
This past week, two of the most important should-be couples in my TV life — Nick and Jess of New Girl, and Travis and Laurie of Cougar Town — finally got it on. (OK, Travis and Laurie didn’t actually do it per se, but after Jellybean’s “I REALLY like you,” confession, YOU KNOW they’re on the verge.) Since I’ve been in fairly committed relationships with both these shows since they started, my immediate reactions to these hook-ups were very much akin to Nick and Jess’s post-did deed: giddy, giggly and school-girly. But now that it’s been a week and we’ve had some time to think about what they’ve done in a more adult manner (I’m talking consequences, not dirty deed specifics, ya pervs!), I’m sure you’re thinking, as most couples do after their first, uh, do, where things can really go from here — both for you, as a viewer, and them, as characters.
As any remote control romantic (and regular romantic, I suppose) knows, going from foreplay to pressing play on a TV relationship can actually put an otherwise fast-forwarding season on pause. Characters you’ve come to know and love mainly for their sexual tension no longer have it, and all of a sudden you — the same person once known to rewatch certain scenes repeatedly just to relive a sexy, yet unsettled innuendo — get the urge to skip back a few chapters. In some truly sad cases, when the writers decide that sex actually does change people completely and begin churning out out-the-blue, unrealistic storylines and uncharacteristically lovey dovey banter, you may even want to eject yourself from the show indefinitely (Izzie’s fling with GHOST DENNY flatlined Grey’s for me). But I’m here to tell you to back away from that big, red stop button. Just for a little while longer.
Believe it or not, but you can stay friends with your favourite show after its lead characters (or at least lead-in-importance-to-you characters) become friends with benefits and/or friends beyond benefits. All it takes it some patience, dedication and, if desperate times come to desperate measures, some Barbra Streisand.
REMAIN OPTIMISTIC / LEAN ON YOUR ‘FRIENDS’ DVDs
Remember that for every show-killing couple (see: Maddie and David of Moonlighting), there is a show-making one (see, at least for me, Dick and Mary from 3rd Rock from the Sun). It is possible for things to get bigger and better for a beloved primetime pair post-horizontal mambo. In fact, if the writers do it right, they can use this newfound connection to breed hilarious and or/ heart-tugging new arcs that can be carried through the series’ end.
How great was it watching Monica (Courteney Cox) and Chandler (Matthew Perry) slowly grow into Friends‘ most functional couple after their seemingly random rendezvous in London? By the end of the series, I cared more their baby drama and penchant for public hook-ups than anything forever on-and-off couple Ross and Rachel was doing, together and apart. (Just think of how good it could have been if they skipped all the wavering and just kept them together the whole time!)
Furthermore, is this season of Castle, which has seen long-flirting duo Castle (Nathan Fillion) and Beckett (Stana Katic) finally shack up, not one of the best yet? That recent bomb-themed episode, during which Beckett was sitting on a slowly detonating explosive, wouldn’t have been nearly as thrilling had the pair not been able to be open with each other and share what could have been their last words.
DON’T SWEAT THE SMALL, TOTALLY AWKWARD STUFF
As with everything in life (other than, maybe, Zac Efron’s face), no relationship is perfect. So, when it comes to driving home a decent TV relationship, plot holes and random road blocks are only natural. And they can easily be put in the past once things take the right turn.
I often forget that Raj (Kunal Nayyar) and Penny (Kaley Cuoco) even had sex on The Big Bang Theory. And that’s because the writers decided to really commit to the Penny and Leonard (Johnny Galecki) relationship and making it work. Now Penny and Leonard are even talking about, possibly, getting married. Sure, that probably won’t happen until the series finale, considering that Leonard would have to move out of his apartment with Sheldon (Jim Parsons) to do so. But the possibility is out there, and after all the ups and downs between the two, it seems like right move.
REMEMBER, YOU’LL ALWAYS HAVE “THE WAY [THEY] WERE”
If the worst case scenario happens, and your show falls apart in the wake of a horrific post-hook-up break-up, or whatever, just know that things were once kinda, sorta perfect, and you can go back to those moments ANY TIME in the Kleenex-stocked privacy of your home.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone back and revisited Nick (Jason Segel) and Lindsay’s (Linda Cardinelli) first Freaks and Geeks kiss after watching them go their separate, original songwriting ways. While The Who’s “The Song Is Over” scores their split, the theme song to the Barbra Streisand classic The Way We Were, a flick that itself follows the consequences of sexually tense characters getting together, plays in the corners of my mind as I watch them make cute (and makeout) in happier times: “It’s the laughter we will remember. Whenever we remember … the way they were.”
Feel that? That’s what I like to call Babs-olute relief. It’s not as good as that aforementioned afterglow, but in a pinch, it does the trick.