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Characters hook up = series becomes worse


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Most TV shows will have some central characters where the sexual tension plays a big part in proceedings. In many (most?) cases, those characters will end up getting together and becoming a couple, thus robbing the show of that undercurrent which has usually been used as a plot device in previous episodes and then having to be this thing that can sometimes smother anything else happening in that world.

 

Has this ever worked for the benefit of a show and improved it or do you find, like me, that it usually makes things a bit worse?

 

I've always felt this way, but recently I've been rewatching Brooklyn Nine Nine from the start because my girlfriend has never seen them, and whilst Jake and Amy getting together initially didn't take up too much airspace, since they've got married I find the episodes haven't been as good. We're now going through season 7 but I don't find it as funny or sharp and there's usually a reference to what is going on with Jake & Amy's 'outside' life that just isn't very interesting.

 

Likewise, I used to enjoy Castle (even though it was the exact same thing every week) until Castle and Kate finally coupled-up, where it changed the dynamic of the team, the dialogue between them and general tone of the show - them having a relationship - which had to be played in every episode - just wasn't interesting, to the point that I just stopped watching sometime during season 5.

 

There are plenty of others, I'm sure, so if I'm missing out of good stuff where this doesn't suffocate a show, let me know. Even Buffy wasn't as good when her and Angel were a thing.

 

I can't think of many notable examples where they deliberately avoid taking that next step other than Remmington Steele, which kept the tension right up until the last episode and was all the better for it.


So yeah, does anybody else lost a bit of interest when main characters get all lovey-dovey? Or is it a payoff that you eagerly await?

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I would have thought Frasier was the best example of this in the last few years - Niles and Daphne getting together killed a big part of the show, and while it didn’t turn the show completely to shit, it was definitely the start of its decline. It did allow Daphne’s appallingly unfunny family members to make up a big part of the show too.

 

Not sure about Buffy - I remember things being much worse when Riley was involved. A least with Angel, we knew that it was a doomed relationship and there would be... fallout, shall we say?

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Ah, yeah, I forgot about Riley - good call.

 

I never watched Frasier, but used to catch bits here and there but yes, I can see how that would've changed things.

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I think Seinfeld did it really well. There was mention of a previous relationship between Jerry and Elaine, but that was off-screen rarely got in the way of the story. It worked well that, as the series progressed, they became increasingly insular and cut off from their other friends who were settling down with marriage, families and the like, to the point where they end up with each other and nobody else.

 

They addressed relationships, but largely by having a guest star every few weeks as the love interest of one of the four. With the result typically being that their own neuroses and the actions of the rest of the group spoiled it.

 

If they had started having Elaine coupled with one of the three male characters the show's dynamic would have been destroyed.

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Friends is the obvious one as no-one was rooting for those two to end up together in the first place. Each episode thereafter would follow a pattern of Chandler doing something thoughtless or freaking out and then Monica patiently explaining his mistake. They managed to make about 100 episodes out of that. Joey and Rachel hooking up was bloody awful too. No-one came out of that looking good. Wow I hate Friends.

 

There were still loads of good stuff in Frasier after Daphne and Niles got together, and they couldn't have strung the unrequited love theme out much longer. I think it just correlated with a general tail off in quality rather than contributing to it that significantly. I guess TV isn't like film in that it's one single thought out story, you're just making it up as you go along. If you get to 150 episodes and you're still getting paid to make it I suppose you don't have much choice but to try something new.

 

Charlie and The Waitress worked, and I think that was 100% because they'd run out of ideas for them by that point.

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I did think about Friends and agree that Monica and Chandler was terrible on every level and a blight for the rest of the series - but it was at least saved somewhat by the ensemble cast. In that respect, Brooklyn Nine Nine is helped by having a fabulous supporting cast, but there's always something an episode that has to remind us that Jake & Amy are together and it's just so in-your-face and doesn't really add anything to the plot.

 

Rachel and Joey I thought was handled better but still not great, of course.

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12 minutes ago, Hexx said:

I don't Chandler and Monica was a gillion times better than Ross/Rachel or Rachel/Joey (that was when you knew they ran out ideas)

 

I'm sure I saw or read somewhere once that the Friends was always about Ross and Rachel and they were always meant to get together. I'm sure the details changed as it exploded in popularity - so different plotlines had to come in - but it all came back around to them and Ross was specifically written for Schwimmer and he was the first person cast, thus he was always going have 'his' storylines be prominent.

 

Even Rachel and Joey was worked into the story - and made a bit more sense in terms of the dynamic - than Monica and Chandler. With them, it felt like they stuck them together because they couldn't think of anything interesting to do with them; it was basically Chandler does the funnies and Monica is uptight and shouts a lot prior to that point. Even Phoebe had some better storylines early on. Probably. (I can't really remember all those years ago). They both became slightly more irritating characters though, I remember that much.

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7 minutes ago, Chadruharazzeb said:

Wasn't that for about two episodes, by which time Charlie was sick of her? 

 

Yeah, I think that was probably the funniest possible resolution within the context of the show. Just sacking it off.

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There was one particular show that actually explicitly talked about this phenomenon, which is why I’ve always thought of it as a cliche - does anyone know what it was? I think it may have been the US Office but that was one of the worst offenders itself, so 

probably not.
 

Other notable examples:

 

Agents of Shield (Fitz & Simmons, but at least they kept finding ways to keep things rocky for them after they hooked up)

Northern Exposure (Joe and Maggie finally got together, Joel left the show, they introduced new suitors for Maggie, nobody wants to see that)

 

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Big Bang took a while to settle once most of the characters settled down but I felt the last seasons had some of the best episodes.

 

Bones was awful once the two mains got together and started having kids. Awful.

 

Agreed that Frasier became a different show but it still had some quality.

 

Stargate had the best relationship - Carter and ONeil..the way they played with it via time travel,  multiverse, life and death  situations

 

 

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Farscape had a novel way of keeping the relationship between it's leads developing even after getting them together..

Spoiler

Crighton is perfectly duplicated by an advanced alien tech, one ends up on one ship with and one ship without Aeryn as the crew get separated..

That Chrighton and Aeryn do get together.. but then he is forced to heroically sacrifice himself and dies a horrible, painful death while she watches.

So her feelings towards the 'other' Crighton are pretty complicated and painful when they do reunite.. Takes them about a season to get back to where they were..

 

Spoiler

..and then just after he proposes they get disintegrated..

 

Spoiler

.. though they do walk that off in the finale mini-series!

 

 

 

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I used to like Farscape, bought the DVDs as they came out (though I'm not sure all of them got released?) but then got distracted during season 3 (?) and never went back to it.

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Futurama is another series that's generally considered to have become worse after its lead characters got together - though that drop in quality wasn't primarily because they became a couple.

 

The finale of the Fox run, "The Devil's Hands are Idle Playthings", seemed to conclude with Fry and Leela officially a couple. But when it came back for the DVD specials and Comedy Central series, it didn't consistently commit to that as the new status quo. The new episodes often reset their relationship to whatever it needed to be for the current story or joke: sometimes presenting them as eternally destined to be together, sometimes as Fry trying to woo her all over again from scratch, sometimes dating other people.

 

Presumably these lurches were partly caused by the gaps in production (the Fox cancellation and DVD movies made them rush their story, limiting where they could go for the Comedy Central episodes), and partly due to the writers wanting to avoid the pitfalls that other comedies suffered by permanently making their main characters a couple.

 

Contrast that with the Kif/Amy relationship, which was consistent on the rare occasions it came up (though they're secondary characters and it was never really presented as a "will they/won't they" relationship in the first place).

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I feel like the Brooklyn 99 example in the OP doesn't really belong; the show wasn't predicated on the will they/won't they formula in the first place, and it's such an ensemble (and nice) comedy in the first place that you can just have the relationship. Same as Leslie Knope and whatshisface in Parks & Rec. Or Andy and April.

 

But yeah, all the will they / won't they programmes are, I reckon unavoidably, ruined once they do. That was the gimmick! You do need to seal the deal, but you should just build to it, do it then stop making the show.

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5 hours ago, Nicky said:

Cheers is another fine example of this.

 

Really?  The whole point was that Sam and Diane were ultimately doomed to failure.  Sam went after Rebecca but she ended up with a plumber.

 

Castle divebombed after Kate and Castle got together.  But I will say that the particular episode and the next few were quite brilliant as they chose to hide it for a while.  The problem was really that they had that stupid "Who killed Becketts mother" plot to tidy up as well. 

 

Edit: I've just looked up Rebecca's last lines.

 

Rebecca Howe: Can you believe that? I shoot for Donald Trump, and I end up with Ed Norton.

Dr. Frasier Crane: But you did good, Rebecca.

Rebecca Howe: I did, didn't I? Bye!

Sam Malone: See ya, Trixie!

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I think the US Office handled it really well. A lot of the show before they coupled was based around their feelings for each other, and it would not have been a surprise to see the quality drop, Frasier-style, when they started dating.

 

I suppose that because the show was not only a strong comedy, but also a well-written drama, it was natural for this relationship to eventually come together, and would have felt dishonest for it to not be concluded. I mean, there is no comedy in this scene whatsoever, but it is probably the most famous scene for fans, maybe because the writers had a good grasp of when to put the jokes to one side, a pretty bold move for a comedy show:

 

The show has a long run, and was able to therefore chart the relationship from courting to marriage through to building a family and the stresses and reconciliations that come with it, whilst still having bitter-sweet comedy moments that both felt natural and were true to the style of the series.

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Only Fools And Horses. Initially it was about a few inept men struggling through life, then Delboy met Raquel and Rodders met Cassandra and, barring one or two exceptional episodes (Rodney having to pretend to be 14 on holiday for instance) it never worked after that. Raquel was far too sensible and tended to hamper Derek Trotter's wilder business dealings. Rodney turned from a dim-witted foil for Delboy into a mopey henpecked husband, the relationship felt like a tedious middle-class sitcom had somehow invaded the show, and it got worse as their relationship got more acrimonious.

 

Just when it couldn't get any worse Damien was born.

 

 

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Only Fools and Horses hit its straps when Rachel and Cassandra joined I thought. They were good characters and from there the show transitioned into something much better. From knockabout capers into stories and people you really cared about.

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31 minutes ago, Art Vandelay said:

Only Fools and Horses hit its straps when Rachel and Cassandra joined I thought. They were good characters and from there the show transitioned into something much better. From knockabout capers into stories and people you really cared about.

I agree, Del Boy was a bit of a dick in the first few series as well.

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