Sunday, March 24, 2013

The Curse of the Happily Ever After (on TV, anyway)

Originally posted on the old blog, on 01/21/13

This past week, I watched the heck out of the new episode of Criminal Minds. Now, I'm not going to directly spoil anything—in fact, that’s the last time I’ll mention the new episode—but the topic is kind of spoilery by nature, so if you’ve DVR’d it and don’t want to know anything about what happened, then stop reading now!
Okay, so here’s the thing. I get that sexual tension is a good thing in TV, just like it is in a romance novel. And I get that some favorites have foundered and sunk once the main couple gets together. Moonlighting comes to mind, as does Scarecrow and Mrs. King. (And I just so dated myself- LOL.) And while Bones is still a solid show that I make a point to watch, I’m not as riveted as I was in years past.

HOWEVER, those are shows with a main crime-fighting couple, and it seems to me that the ‘rules’ are different for more ensemble casts. Take CSI: NY, for example. I enjoy knowing that Mac is happily paired off these days, that Danny and Lindsay are solid, and even Flack is doing the heavy flirt thing. That doesn’t make me any less likely to watch the show. In fact, I like it more because of the relationships.

So I have to wonder when a show like Criminal Minds kills off a loved one rather horribly, as they did with Hotch’s wife (or, ahem, another recent character). Yes, it’s a dark-dark-dark show, and yes, shock value can be a powerful tool. And, okay, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: it’s one of the few shows that can creep me out enough that I have to change the channel. But still. This past week’s show did not give me a happy, and it made me question whether I want to continue watching.

What’s my point? I don’t know. Maybe I don’t really have one—I know that the rules of a long-running TV series are going to be different from what I work with when I’m writing a romantic suspense or (most certainly) a gentle contemporary romance. I guess I’m trying to decide where romantic conflict ends and shock value begins. 

So talk to me, dear friends … what are some of your favorite long-running TV shows (or book series) that have lost momentum after the main characters got together, and what are some that have made it work? Which do you prefer? I’m curious if there’s some sort of pattern here, or if it’s one of those ‘sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t’ things. I mean, sure, Eve and Roark of the In Death books work, but not everyone is going to be able to pull that off! 

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