The most enduring television cliché (and the one I love the most), is the old “Will they/won’t they” tension between a male and female character. Will they/won’t they, in essence, is will they, or won’t they DO IT.
Yeah, it’s all about the sex.
Famous examples include Sam and Diane on Cheers, Maddie and David on Moonlighting, Tony and Angela on Who’s the Boss, Fran and Mr. Sheffield on The Nanny, and Remington Steele and that chick detective on Remington Steele. Those are just five out of about one-hundred thousand examples of this phenomenon.
And we keep falling for it. Why?
Let’s face it. We thrive off of sexual tension. We eat it up, and ask for more, even though we’re essentially getting NOTHING in return. Think about it. We’re getting a bunch of promises and zero payoff. It’s probably the most Catholic way you can enjoy television.
But here’s the funny thing. When we finally DO get payoff, we lose interest. How sick is that? When our favorite on-screen couple finally has sex, we stop watching. Moonlighting’s ratings pretty much fell off the map after Bruce Willis and Cybill Shepherd did it. The Nanny went of the air one year after Fran marries her boss. Guess when Tony and Angela finally did it? When the show was pretty much dead.
Maybe America is a nation that loves to be teased. Look at our political system. We vote based on sexy promises, not reality. Barack Obama was super cool when he was a candidate, but now that we have him, we couldn’t BE more bored.
But you know what, I sort of enjoy it. Hell, I really enjoy it. Tease me, television. Never pay me off. I don’t care. I know what you’re up to, TV…and I don’t mind. Let the flagellation continue.