I gave y'all a link to the trope, yesterday, but... in case you missed it, the main goal of the trope is to do horrible things to women because their man character needs motivation.
Or because they couldn't write a stable relationship to save their own butts.
Or because they have no clue how to write a woman once she stops being a love interest and starts being a life partner.
Last iteration of this that I encountered was... just before this weekend. So it's by no means a defunct meme.
How this keeps happening is a matter of debate, but having seen quite a lot of serialised drama, I've started to recognise a pattern.
Recipe for this trope:
- Take one man/woman pairing in a procedural series with Unresolved Sexual Tension[UST].
- Realise that once you resolve the UST, the show gets real boring because you have no idea how to write a functional relationship.
- Therefore the man of the team MUST meet a Manic Pixie Dream Girl [MPDG] who changes his life for the better
- Possibly by rescuing her because we all know who the real hero is (9_9)
- Add a not-so-subtle thread of peril if one doesn't already exist. Abusive Ex's are really good for this especially if the MPDG is black1.
- Just when things are looking up for the man, kill her gruesomely.
- For extra bonus points, make it look like the man did it for a half-season "I Was Framed" plotline.
Take note, though, that when the female protagonist falls in love with an obvious UST-buster, that man inevitably turns out to be a serial killer. I'm looking at you, Rizzoli and Isles.
It's got to the point where I can say, "She's dead," just as the man of the team talks about popping the question or going to a post-engagement celebratory dinner with the parentals.
And with the female protagonists, I can shout, "He's going to kill you," when the BF-of-the-season sends a distress call via text to come to an isolated location.
It's getting boring.
One show that does break this mould (and frequently) is Major Crimes, which has more of the real-life intricacies of solving mysteries and making sure the baddie goes away. It shows messy relationships, people with issues, and a man/woman duo who is both functional and interesting on television.
Of course, the other way to end the UST is to have both partners admit to their feelings and settle in. On the finale episode of your thing. Sure, some fans will be angry at you, but they'd be a lot angrier if you happened to write the relationship they say they wanted.
Face it, UST writers can't write good relationships. It doesn't work that way. You want an UST-type show, you can't have that relationship be resolved.
Unless... You resolve the UST with a "will they" answer (they did!) and the relationship remains exactly the same. Sex doesn't have to change everything like these UST people seem to think. They did it, but they have to keep it in their pants at the office.
Queue loads of flirting banter, the obligatory "get a room" interjections, and some friendly bickering, same as always. And it makes the stakes higher when one or the other is at the mercy of the villain-of-the-week.
And you can imply that the sex life is incredibly healthy... but you never show it on screen.
Just... stop killing girlfriends/fiancees/wives because YOU hit a dead end.
Tomorrow? The Manic Pixie Dream Girl.
True television facts: Black women are more likely to have abusive exes or gang activity end their fictional days. White women get horror-grade stalkers that can be milked for three seasons at best. ↩