Post by contributor Kate Getty
Scully and Mulder never gave in. And it lasted nine seasons. They toyed with it, hovered around it, dangled it above us, dividing their viewers into two camps: “shippers” (short for relationshippers) and “noromos,” (as in no romance), fighting to keep the sexual tension alive. We wanted to believe. X-Files creator Cris Carter became a master at embodying that “Are we gonna kiss?” moment episode after episode. He was edging before we even had a word for it.
And it worked. Pleasure delay works. Not just in the bedroom.
In Season Two, Mr. Sheffield accidentally tells “The Nanny” he loves her. But then he (or the writers?) backtrack and wait two more seasons before they give in to the building sexual tension. Then when The Nanny and Mr. Sheffield get hitched, the show gets canned.
Then there was Bones. I used to love Bones. Bones and Booth danced around the sex since 2005. It was fun. They solved crimes with science and the tension between them was a knife cut away. It built and grew. It had twists. Turns. Just when you thought they’d give in, Bones has a date with someone. Or Booth does. And “Why am I jealous?”starts creeping into the chemistry of the two. It was endearing. Kinda like real life. Kinda like when two friends of yours start realizing they dig each other. And Bones is kinda “on the spectrum” a bit in the way really smart people have trouble getting in touch with their emotions, so it took time. I was watching.
But then, boom. They gave in. Then they didn’t give in anymore. Then they gave in, again (I think?). And now, they are in their ninth season, and Booth just proposed.
But I stopped watching the first time they gave in. Even though I had started watching for the science and forensics and the cool smart dreams I’d have afterwards, the chemistry between Booth and Bones had become the show, the flirting, that witty banter, the question, always looming. So when the unknown became known, sorry, but that’s when I lost my TV-Boner for Bones.
And I bet it will be cancelled next season.
It’s a formula. Give in. Get cancelled or worse, become irrelevant. History tells us. Ross and Rachel. Meredith Grey and McDreampie. Pam and Jim. Vampire Diaries. Castle. The list goes on.
So it makes me wonder, will Bones’ real-life sister, Zooey Deschanel meet the same fate for her date? Will New Girl, a show that has surprised everyone (or at least everyone in my friend group who used to make fun of me for liking it and now likes it) start to suck now that they’ve given in to the whole Jess and Nick sexual tension?
I’ve always loved New Girl. Even when people just wanted Zooey and her bangs and tiny guitar to go away, I still loved it. I loved her nerdy awkward girl schtick. I loved the crafty intro. Hand-made! I loved the guys. I thought, now here’s a show that has chemistry. Everybody has chemistry. All over the place.
And stuck in the middle of all the clever banter of roommates with quick wits living interesting idealized hipster city lives, there was Nick and Jess. Roommates with this undercurrent. This question was always there.
Are they going to? Do they want it?
And it tantalized. For two seasons. They toyed with us. The carrot dangled. The dance continued. The jealousy mounted. The dates they kept having kept failing, and we never rooted for any of them, realizing, somewhere inside of us, we were always rooting for this, and there they were Nick and Jess, kissing, on the screen, for a dare, I think.
Now we are four episodes into the third season, and Nick and Jess are full-on dating. Roommates still, but giggling through walls, talking about feelings, milestones like “first month,” and we’re watching Nick work harder than he has at just about anything in the whole time we’ve “known” him. So we are still watching.
But ratings are slightly down. So, I guess, less of us are watching.
Yes. Nick and Jess are a couple now. But they’ve got other roomies, too. Max Greenfield and Lamorne Morris (Schmidt and Winston respectively) add to the loft’s dynamic with a caffeinated, hyper-active almost-insanity. Like when Winston does a puzzle for an entire episode before realizing he’s colorblind or tries to get his cat (a cat he steals from his cheating girlfriend) to have sex before it loses its balls or when Schmidt somehow has two “girlfriends” at one office party without being caught.
It’s the banter. Conversation written like people actually have conversations, only if we were smarter and quicker hyperbolic versions of ourselves, backed by a room full of baseball caps trying to outsmart one another. New Girl‘s conversations are like Seinfeld. They don’t go anywhere really, but that was its success, highlighting the fact that real life, we don’t talk about anything and like in real life, friends dating wouldn’t be the only thing going on in your life.
But still, it’s scary to give in so early in a series. They could have drawn out the blue-balls for another season at least. So I’ll it’s brave. (And they aren’t taking it lightly.)
So I’m not saying anything new. Everyone knows the curse. Viewers are fully aware. Give in to the protagonist sexual tension release, and where do we go from here?
We’ll see. Tonight, in the sixth episode, and at judgment day, when the real test comes. When producers and viewers decide, will they come back for a fourth season?