I, like most of us, have a crazy, psychotic obsession with Scandal. Who doesn’t? Weirdos and people in prison that’s who. There is, however, one part of the show that makes my toes curl, my stomach feel heavy, and a huge wave of uncomfort to pass over me – Fitz and Olivia’s relationship. It’s everything a relationship shouldn’t be.
The one-sided control along with Fitz’s refusal to allow Olivia ever to move on – you know, in spite of the whole married thing – and those constant argue-grab-kisses. We’re meant to see it as passion, but passion shouldn’t destroy a person. It’s fiction, but at the same time, it’s not. Scandal of course is not alone in promoting unhealthy romance, the more I think about it the more relationships that we’ve all cheered for jump out as hideous, unhealthy, and terrible examples of a relationship. So many of us are made to believe that a relationship where you scream at each other before having sweaty, hair-pulling sex is what a good, passionate relationship should involve. Because that is what TV, movies, books, and songs tell us. Because for some reason, we still idolise the Sid and Nancy, the Kurt and Courtney, the Amy and Blake.
I decided to pick apart some of our other favourite on-screen couples, turns out quite a lot of them promote a relationship far from perfect.
Carrie and Big
This one’s fairly obvious I feel. I’m sure at one point we were all Team Big, but we were Team Anything Carrie Suggested. Cosmos, brightly coloured Macs, Malonos, and of course Marlboro Light. But for those of us who, like me, were much younger than Carrie and her girls when we first watched realised as we grew that in reality, Carrie didn’t know shit. Hindsight has shown a lot of us that it should have always been Aiden, and not just because of that awesome chair and chest.
Carrie and Big represent the epitome of a bad relationship to me. They had that whole donkey and carrot situation going on, him always walking away and her following because he always dangled something that she wanted (don’t). Remember when he called her a bitch at a party? Or when a toothbrush head was the biggest sign that their relationship was going somewhere? Or the affairs? Or, you know, when he left her at their wedding?
Carrie and Big were awful. If you really need a SATC couple to ship, go Google Charlotte and Harry gifs.
Sandy and Danny
I know. I’m sorry. But think about it.
How did Sandy woo Danny? That’s right, by changing everything about herself, squeezing into some tight trousers, and taking up smoking. Up until that point she was treated like shit, mocked, bullied, and left alone at the dance. Oh yeah and let’s not forget the attempted boob-grab and the amount of whining when she wasn’t impressed with that.
‘But Danny changed too!’ yeah, he managed to graduate high school and wore a cardigan. Good effort, Zuko.
Want to get the boy, girls? You know what to do…
Essentially every Disney couple ever
This is an obvious one, but in a lot of ways the most scary. Some of the first fims we see, the first idols we have, and they are in some of the least healthy relationships.
Stockholm Syndrome, women who have to change everything about themselves for their prince, creepy age gaps, a man’s kiss being required to come back to life, and the repeated idea that no woman is complete without marrying her Prince Charming. Disney is a hive of unhealthiness, go back and watch your favourite, tell me I’m wrong.
Penny and Leonard
Not just because it’s a god-awful show.
Any constant on-again-off-again relationship has something wrong with it, even though it’s a constant idea of romance on our screens – you have to break up before the big reunion, you can’t be perfect without that bit in the middle where it all goes to shit. Penny constantly feels inadequate because she’s not as smart as Leonard, a fact that he backs up with his reaction to her lack of college education. Leonard is constantly aggressively jealous because he’s not as attractive as Penny.
They break up over and over again due to this need to control, she is criticised for having male friends, judged for her lack of understanding over and over again, and essentially becomes a pretty girl, without much more use than a sex doll.
Derek and Meredith
I know, I don’t want to admit it either. But Derek and Meredith are far from the dream couple.
He doesn’t tell her about his wife, who he immediately goes back to, and doesn’t let Meredith move on when he does. She pushes him away, refuses to move their relationship to any level that’s real time and time again, and never allows herself to really fall. Between the pair of them they manage to go through every single relationship destroyer. Some might find the fact that despite all of that they managed to make it work romantic, but it’s not really the story you want to tell the grandkids. Nor the self-destruction, self-hate, and depression you want to go through to get grandkids.
Every other damn Grey’s couple
If there’s one thing Queen Shonda does well it’s write dysfunctional couples.
Cristina and Burke, of course, were they in love? Did they both just want to better their own careers? Who knows, but she shaved her eyebrows off for him, and he left her at the alter. Ellis and the Chief, their affair, his complete destruction of her mental health. Owen and Cristina, his PTSD, her refusal to let anyone in, the whole thing was a shitshow. George and Callie and their rebound, affair-ridden marriage. Izzie and George, Izzie and George…I don’t think I need to say anymore. Derek and Addison and their need to continuously sleep with people not in their marriage. Izzie and Denny, she destroyed her career for him, ’nuff said. Callie and Erica (crying about leaves after sex is kinda always a no). Alex and Ava/Rebecca and his unrelenting belief of her crazy, PSTD lies. Izzie and Alex and her inability to let him love her.
The list could go on. I’m taking this opportunity to suggest nobody ever take relationship advice from Shonda.
Ross and Rachel
One of the most famous TV couples of our lifetimes. And one of the worst.
The ridiculous level of jealousy, the cheating (the ‘break’ excuse? Nah.), the break ups and the back-togethers. They forever went back over old arguments and they seemingly had no interests in common (something that the writers of Friends loved to throw out for comedic value).
Ross and Rachel were the relationship of nightmares. Also, I rewatched Friends recently and Ross is just a massive jerk. Do better Rachel, stay on the plane.
I had to stop myself here, before this short post became a novel. Sure, TV and film are designed to bring a little drama into our lives, but these relationships that are so full of flaws become idolised. People everywhere want to compare their own relationships to those we see on the screen.
Of course every relationship has it’s flaws, but far too often we excuse things that should be completely inexcusable because we are told that these things can change in a person. We convince ourselves that are screaming arguments are passion, that although we keep breaking up we keep getting back together – which has to mean something, that the fact you’ve both cheated means it’s balanced out. That things will get better by the time the credits run.