On Relationships in Fiction

So, the title may be a little misleading since the focus of this post is more on romantic relationships than all types of unions. Not to suggest that romantic relationships take some sort of precedence over others, but honestly that would be a natural assumption to make based on the media and fiction we produce and consume.

Seriously, so much of the media we engage with has a romantic quest/plot device/narrative as either the key focus or at the very least one of the major subplots. Personally, I don’t really have a problem with this simply because I do genuinely believe that romantic relationships are an important aspect of people’s lives. Would I prefer there to be a better represented balance of other types of relationships like platonic, friendly, etc.? Yeah, particularly because those are just as significant and for most people they will be more common in scope and number. As well, I would love to see more deviation from the standard couple representation of two pretty white heterosexual people getting it on. And to be fair, there has been some better showings in media, but that can always be improved.

However, my major gripe with romantic relationships in fiction and media is the focus on the lead up. Honestly, most relationships seen in media show everything but the actual relationship. Think about your favorite¬†romantic comedies or dramas. The stories about couples in those tend to be about them meeting and the friction they overcome to start dating, but the actual relationship is hardly ever shown. And those few examples that do have relationships past the “dating/courting phase” (this looks weird, but appropriate?) usually are filled with over the top drama and insane problems that are barely normal for the fictional universe created in the show/film/web series/etc.

Now, obviously part of this is the need to entertain audiences with exciting and dramatic stories. Even so, why do writers/artists/creators have such a seemingly difficult time with romantic relationships past the initial phase? Do they just see couples as boring or uninteresting writing material? If so, why? Are audiences just uninterested in seeing functional couples on television?

I don’t have an answer to this and I don’t think I am alone in seeing this theme across media. Hopefully, some of you might have some thoughts that you would like to share in the comments below.

(One last thought: surprisingly, the most healthy and functional relationships of all types tend to be on half hour comedies. Really. Take a look at Scrubs. Had all types of working relationships with ups and downs without ever getting boring or too ridiculous)

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