I think "Moonlighting" is probably Annabelle's all-time favorite tv show. She can sing the theme song. She knows all the characters and lots about them and their story lines. She also gets a pained look when the topic of David and Maddie sleeping together at the end of Season 3 comes up. Annabelle prefers to pretend this never happened, that her beloved show was never ruined in such a horrific way. The point: when a lot of the energy of a show and the draw for the audience lies in the chemistry and sexual tension between the two lead characters, changing that dynamic fundamentally changes the show.
Remember "Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman"? How about "The X-Files"? Okay, that one got particularly weird when David Duchovny left his starring role, but the change in chemistry between Mulder and Scully, while exciting in a way, was really the beginning of the end. I was happier when it was only Bree Sharp actively chasing Duchovny's "Mulder."
Last summer, I became addicted to "Bones" during my two months off. That show has a phenomenal ensemble cast. Yes, it clearly has two leads -- Bone and Booth -- but it's the entire cast that makes it a great show. That being said, I fell in love with the chemistry between Bones and Booth. The best way I can describe it is that I have a crush on them -- their chemistry, their banter, their friendship, their teamwork, their love of one another. I don't have a clearly identifiable crush on either character or on either of the actors (though I wouldn't kick Emily Deschanel out of bed or anything). I just love all that is Bones-and-Booth as a television pair.
Which brings me to what I've really been thinking about today: why Jane Rizzoli and Maura Isles (of, cleverly enough, "Rizzoli and Isles") can't be a couple. Earlier, I read Dorothy Snarker's recent AfterEllen post "'Rizzoli & Isles' is TV's first lesbian buddy cop show (it just doesn't know it yet)," which I loved. Seriously, go read her post -- she hit on all the loveliness that is the on-screen chemistry these two characters share. The nice thing about this piece is that, while honestly cheering for them to be a couple, I don't think Snarker believes it will happen. Part of me thinks she might even agree with me that it shouldn't happen. Her tone is playful enough to show me two things: 1) This could be a really great thing for tv that will likely be passed by. 2) She can confess her crush on them and their relationship while still understanding that messing with their chemistry messes with the show. She must still remember "Moonlighting."
I made the mistake of reading a bunch of the comments to the post, which reflected what I've seen in some of the questions recently posed to Sasha Alexander (Isles) via Twitter -- fans really DO want the characters to be together. They think it would be a far better show that way. And, they're totally serious. They see the territory opened up by taking the characters from books to the small screen, and while acknowledging that it wouldn't fly with the characters as they've been established in the books, a lot can still change when we're only three episodes into a brand new show.
Dear friends, I learned this lesson already -- when your show feeds on the chemistry between two characters who clearly should be together in your (my) dreamworld, actually getting them together is a sure-fire way to kill the show. It irks me that people fight against this fact.
I'll be the first to admit, though somewhat embarrassingly, that I'm all about these women in a serious way. Snarker is so right about their connection; they are the new crush duo for me. (Sorry, Bones and Booth.) I have already given over too many hours in the past two weeks to reading fan fiction (fanfic) on the internet about the two coupling (most rated PG-13 or higher -- yes, I read fanfic smut; don't judge). I'm contentedly living in my fantasy world where the relationship between these women can be what I and other fans imagine. And as hot as their imaginary sexual relationship is, it's totally not where the show should go.
I think that part of it for me is that I need the saucy subtext to feed my imagination. It's more fun this way.
I must now acknowledge an important part of arguments I'm reading about why they should be a couple -- wouldn't it be an amazing thing for television to see two awesome and happily and openly partnered -- and accepted and loved -- lead women on this show, or any show? It would be an amazing thing. It's 2010, people, and lesbian couples are living happily ever after in a neighborhood near you. Why shouldn't they be honestly portrayed in leading roles just like anyone else? Maybe you've checked and noticed that we aren't progressive enough, as a country, for this to be a successful formula for a tv show. Us queers aren't getting equal rights in so many ways; why should tv be any different? Yes, some states "get it" and allow legal partnerships of some kind, but others -- I'm looking at you, California -- put bigotry into state law. Is one tv show going to change that? No way. Does the show have a better chance of being successful without that? Yeah, I'm thinking so.
In my mind, I keep coming back to "Fried Green Tomatoes." Love that flick. If you read Fannie Flagg's book, it's abundantly clear that Ruth and Idgie were a couple. The 1991 movie the book is based on, however, is a best friends film. When the film came out (and still today, I'd argue), that makes the film open to a wider audience. That film reaches more people than it would if Ruth and Idgie were "out" on screen. Maybe that's a good thing. Maybe more people can see the nuances of their relationship, and maybe because of that, those people become a little more accepting and open-minded. For those of us who cared about the integrity of Ruth and Idgie's relationship, we only need to go so far as the director's commentary (aside from the books) to hear that the filmmaker knew they were lovers all along. Listen up when the commentary addresses the food fight scene -- it's intended to symbolize their love-making. I kid you not.
My point here? Maybe "Rizzoli and Isles" won't be pushing any boundaries. It's probably not going to test the waters out there and see if the public is ready for the two women to be an on-screen couple. I think that would ruin what I, personally, love about the show. When I fell in love with "Fried Green Tomatoes" as a teenager, I wasn't entirely tuned into Ruth and Idgie's relationship (or my own interest in women), but that's okay. There was enough there to let me read what I wanted to when I wanted to between the lines. With what's actually on screen, I think I'm happy with "Rizzoli and Isles" just the way it is. I'm having fun with the characters and their chemistry. The rest is up to my imagination.