For years, avid TV viewers have been discussing whether they’re a Rachel or a Monica, a Ross or a Chandler, but are TV-watching couples going down the same path? Do we wonder if our relationship is a Cam and Mitchell or a Beckett and Castle? And if we are lining up our real-life relationships against those with writers and directors is that good or bad for the health of the relationships we have in the real world?
There’s no doubt that, in an age of super-celeb saturation, it’s easy to be bombarded with idealized images of everything from the circumference of the average American thigh to the roller coaster ride of marriage. But fictionalized couples can teach us a thing or two about how to inject levity and faith into the everyday challenges of being in a relationship.
One of the best things about the couples in shows like “The Big Bang Theory,” “Castle,” and “Modern Family” is that, while they are usually able to wrap up most of their problems before the final credits, they still have problems. Gone are the overly sanitized days of “The Brady Bunch,” where although Mike and Carol shared a bed, they never shared a frustrated look or hostile word.
Today’s primetime couples live in a much closer facsimile of the real world and it shows in their interactions. How many times will Marge sigh and grumble because Homer stayed out all night drinking with the boys at Moe’s? No matter how many times she’s reached her limit, we know Marge will eventually get over it and still want some snuggle time with her rotund Romeo.
And there’s no doubt that Phil and Claire Dunphy love each other but they butt heads just as often as they team up against their kids. However, whether it’s Claire’s lack of romantic sensibility or Phil’s latest wacky obsession, these two always end up back where they belong – in each other’s arms .
Probably the best lesson to be learned from TV couples is that issues can be resolved. It’s possible to be mind-blowingly angry with your significant other and still love them and it’s okay if your relationship isn’t perfect around the clock. Relationships are about compromise and if you’re more committed to being right than being together, both parties will lose.
Seeing Penny and Leonard navigate their vast differences reassures us that our own dissimilarities will not be deal-breakers; that we can learn and grow from toughing it out and being together. Remember when Lily and Marshall broke up on “How I Met Your Mother” and Lily took off to San Francisco? Hearts were broken across the TV viewing universe, but time apart helped those two crazy kids realize that they just couldn’t live without each other and we all got the happy ending we were hoping for.
Happy endings are important because they give us hope. One of the best things about today’s TV couples is that they have their share of trials and tribulations, but at the end of the day they choose “us” over the alternative. Real life is a lot more messy than TV and we get few enough endings in general, let alone happy ones. But we wake up every day and brush our teeth before kissing one another good morning because we are ridiculously hopeful that we can – against all odds – find our own happy ending before the final credits roll.
Photo: ABC/Bob D’Amico
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