Clear Eyes. Full Hearts. Can’t Lose.
If you’re going to watch one of my favorite shows with me, be warned. I watch onscreen romances the way my dad watches football. There is couch-side coaching, cheering, and calling fouls. There is shouting when necessary. When you’re a chick who talks about relationships for a living, you can’t really help yourself.
Maybe one of the biggest reasons I get so dang fired-up is because of the power that television shows have over us. They hook us with a star-crossed love story, almost effortlessly, and suddenly we find ourselves rooting for unhealthy couples and dysfunctional relationships. Lookin’ at you, Scandal. Most of the time, I’m shouting just to remind myself of truth. And anyone else who happens to be in the room. And maybe occasionally the neighbors.
After many hours of television watching research, here are my thoughts on the top 3 unhealthiest relationships on TV, ya know, the ones we’ve all been normalized to but shouldn’t be, and the top 3 healthiest relationships, beacons of romantic hope in an otherwise desolate tv wasteland. I’ll also add that while I am aware these are all fictitious characters, for the purposes of this blog I will refer to them as if they were real life people (like they are in my heart.) Without further ado:
- Relationship to Avoid: Ross & Rachel, Friends
Remember that time you tried to watch two Chinese guys in a ping pong match, and your neck started hurting from all the back and forth and then you were exhausted? That’s kinda how it feels watching Ross and Rachel. On again. Off again. On agai– oh wait, nope not yet. Theeeeeeere they go, on again. Off again. On. Off. For all of time. I know we’re supposed to be rooting for them, but honestly, if this is what love looks like, then there is no hope for mankind. Unless mankind’s existence depended on a healthy dose of indecision and lack of follow through. In that case, we’d be just fine, because Ross and Rachel definitely have that going for them.
- Relationship to Aspire to: Leslie & Ben, Parks and Rec
Here’s the thing about Leslie and Ben (other than the fact that they’re both ADORABLE) – once they’ve found each other, that’s it. From the start, they’ve got eyes only for one another, and a commitment to make it work through job losses, life transitions, political campaigns, and even long distance. Their perfect, spontaneous wedding with their besties highlighted the significance of genuine community to a healthy relationship. These two are cutest possible example of what it looks like to be a great team. Plus, they’ve got Li’l Sebastian’s blessing, so we know it’s forever.
- Relationship to Avoid: Jess & Nick, New Girl
Watching this relationship is like watching awkward, uncoordinated baby deer learn how to walk. Except they never figure it out and finally just give up because they’re distracted by a butterfly that flies by, and they resign themselves to a mediocre life of sitting in a field eating dandelions. They’re endearing to watch, but we can’t get our hopes up too high for their future, because convenience is the name of the game for these two. If you put a couple of 12 year olds in adult bodies and told them to date, this is the relationship you would get. The show can keep trying to string us along with this little “will they or won’t they?” saga, but we all already know the answer. Eventually, they’ll wobble their fragile little legs back in one another’s direction, and will it be cute? Absolutely. Will it be healthy, mature, and reflective of two grown individuals? Not a chance.
- Relationship to Aspire to: Adam & Christina, Parenthood
You know you’ve got a good thing going when your relationship has weathered the kind of family drama and life twists that these two have endured, not to mention a bout with cancer that had us all openly weeping (I know I’m not the only one), and you’re still gazing at each other like two high school sweethearts. Through it all, not only do Adam and Christina anchor one another, they encourage each other to dream big. Start a recording studio even though your background is in shoe sales? Go for it, Adam! Transition from stay-at-home mom to Mayoral candidate and then start your own school for special needs kids? You got this, Christina! They are each other’s biggest cheerleaders and advocates. And they put up with one another’s frequently uptight, slightly too-type A personalities like no one else could. Bless you both.
- Relationship to Avoid: Mindy & Danny, The Mindy Project
I’ll know I’ve found true love when I find a man who dumps me, wins me back, gets me pregnant, goes ghost the first chance he has to meet my family (who doesn’t know about him), and explains to me that he doesn’t want to get married because he’s got unresolved issues from his dysfunctional upbringing. Oh wait. Somehow, the writers of this show are clever enough to have us almost convinced that these two belong together. I feel more like these two belong in counseling.
- Relationship to Aspire to: Coach Eric and Tami Taylor, Friday Night Lights
I don’t really need to explain why these two have the perfect marriage because, duh. Start taking notes. Like yesterday.