The Weekend Five: Unhealthy Relationships on Television

As busy as I may be throughout the semester, I happen to be an avid TV viewer. I’m not ashamed of my silly television habits, and many readers will note that I love to discuss some of the fictional (and non-fictional!) characters in relation to my beliefs about dating, ambition and more. Today’s blog focuses on the less healthy relationships that have been recently portrayed on television, some of which are fan favorites, and my thoughts on each pairing. 🙂 Enjoy!

The Weekend Five: Unhealthy Relationships on Television

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1. Blair Waldorf and Chuck Bass from Gossip Girl.
Don’t get me wrong… I used to love this couple (when I was seventeen). When the show first planted the idea of Blair, the scheming Queen B of the Upper East Side, and Chuck, the wealthy and womanizing bad boy, a part of me thought that the pairing was just crazy enough to work out. I enjoyed watching as their relationship developed, with both characters struggling to admit their true feelings for one another, but after the second season or so, things took a turn for the crazy. Chuck traded Blair for a hotel, hooked up with a character’s younger sister on the night he planned to propose, and even became physically abusive to Blair, who ultimately married and divorced a Monaguesque prince. A relationship this rocky is not worth the time or heartache; in fact, both characters thrive when they aren’t together. Personally, I believe that Chuck needs to go through a ton of rehab, and that Blair is much better off with Dan Humphrey, her best friend and intellectual equal. (As a couple, Dan Humphrey and Serena van der Woodsen are a close second for unhealthy couples!)

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2. Ryan Howard and Kelly Kapoor from The Office.This couple was hilarious to watch throughout the show’s run, but definitely not a “healthy” relationship. Kelly herself was one of my favorite characters while she was still on the show, probably because of her knack for the dramatic (ie: faking pregnancy or swallowing a tapeworm to lose weight), and Ryan’s pretentious behavior was enough to make you love to hate him. While Kelly constantly latched on to Ryan, Ryan only showed enough interest to keep her around. In fact, when Kelly moves to Miami, Ohio, with her new pediatrician boyfriend, Ryan moves there as well (seemingly to get her back). In real life, this kind of relationship would be troublesome, but on the small screen, Kelly and Ryan are one of the most entertaining unhealthy couples to watch.

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3. Belle and Rumplestiltskin from Once Upon a Time.
Okay, let me start out by saying that I really am pulling for these two to end up together. I think Belle is exactly what Mr. Gold/Rumplestiltskin needs to stay grounded and not let his powers overcome him. However, in its current state, the relationship could arguably use some improving. While Belle remains supportive of Rumplestiltskin and committed to making him a better man, Rumplestiltskin struggles to put his love for her in front of everything else. Once he finally changes for the better and isn’t so obsessed with making deals with every single fairy tale character who ever existed, I believe that he and Belle will make a great couple.

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4. President Fitzgerald Grant and Olivia Pope from Scandal.
Olivia Pope, the former communications director for the White House, has an affair with Fitzgerald Grant during his presidential campaign and long afterward. Although the President is married to someone else and expecting his third or fourth child, he just can’t quit Olivia. The two are so drawn to each other (although, to this day, I’m unclear on why) that every scene between them is extremely emotional and intense. Every time Olivia tries to break things off, Fitz does something crazy to win her back – for example, having his Secret Service men kidnap Liv in the woods so the two of them can have some alone time. His need to be with Olivia borders on controlling, and the fact that their relationship must be kept secret is enough to make it unhealthy. (Don’t forget – his wife is pregnant!)

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5. Victoria Henley and her mother from Cycle 19 of America’s Next Top Model.
As a huge fan of Top Model, I couldn’t let this one slip by! Victoria is a homeschooled girl who now attends online college, and she has never really been apart from her mother. Immediately in the season, she talks about her devotion to her mother, as well as the idea that she never wants to pursue a romantic relationship with a guy in the foreseeable future because her relationship with her mother is fulfilling enough. Now, I love my Mom and talk to her about nearly everything, but Victoria takes it to a whole new level, crying out “Momma!” and bursting into tears every time she rings up her mother on the phone. This attachment is a little scary, considering this girl is getting into her twenties and hasn’t formed a relationship of any kind with anyone else.

What TV relationships do you think are the most unhealthy?

Relationship Dependence: The Blair Waldorf Story

Upon first glance, Blair Waldorf of Gossip Girl may not seem like the perfect role model. After all, toward the beginning of the series, the icy Queen B of the Upper East Side is primarily known for her sinister scheming, her self-centered nature and her lack of regard for the middle class. She wears headbands as a status symbol and holds court with her minions on the steps of the Met.

But as the show progresses, Blair transforms into more than just a not-so-nice It Girl — not only does she show us her vulnerable side, but she reveals an intellectual, ambitious side of herself as well. She applies to Ivy League schools before ultimately attending NYU and Columbia, strives to become a fashion editor-in-chief and interns at a high-profile magazine in the city. Aside from Brooklyn’s Lonely Boy Dan Humphrey, Blair is arguably the only character in the series with real aspirations and a sense of purpose.

The only thing holding her back? Her heavy, often narrow-minded focus on the men in her life, especially during the past two seasons.

Whether it’s her tortured love affair with the nefarious Chuck Bass, her passionless engagement to a European prince, or  her slowly evolving friendship-turned-more with Dan, Blair’s relationships have completely taken over in recent episodes, essentially turning her into a shadow of her former self. Although her character has matured considerably, she has not focused on school or her dreams in more than an entire season. Instead, she regresses to a feeble little girl who depends on her on-again-off-again-boyfriend’s love as her only way to survive.

We’re all allowed to be a little irrational sometimes in the name of love, but when it consumes our lives so much that we have little else to think about, it has become a problem. We start to define ourselves by the relationships we enter rather than the collective experiences we have undergone and the goals we have set. We go from “Queen B” to “Chuck’s Girlfriend,” and we lose sight of our personal dreams and opportunities.

The real Blair Waldorf will stop at nothing to get what she wants… except when Chuck is in her life. This is not to say that we should avoid relationships at all costs or become completely jaded and cynical about love before we turn 30, but we shouldn’t sacrifice every original thought we’ve ever had just so that we can be with someone. Instead, we should pursue relationships with people who are just as ambitious as we are, who are entrenched in their own personal growth as well.

It doesn’t matter if you’re dating the bad boy, the prince, the bookworm, or the lacrosse captain. What matters is that you maintain your sense of self along the way and find someone who will support you even when your goals have nothing to do with the relationship. After all, aren’t you worth the effort?

Happy Valentine’s Day, dear readers! You know you love me. XOXO.