Television shows and their bad love sub-plots


Zach Efron and Vanessa Hudgens as Troy Bolton and Gabriella Montez in High School Musical

Leah Clark, Co-editor

Television, for some reason, loves to include terrible love sub-plots in their storylines.

Recently, I have been bombarded on social media with videos that highlight couples from various shows. However, the odd part is that these are couples from shows on platforms such as Disney Channel, Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network, etc. These are all channels dedicated to providing content for children.

In the moment, it was a little weird to see these old shows again, but later, it became intriguing. It was as if I was sucked into a trance of mediocre acting and predictable plots. I started to realized why I was so obsessed with these shows as a kid. The more I watched them the more an off-putting factor, held by almost all of the shows, became clear to me—unnecessary love sub-plots.

These shows are marketed towards children, who are in a stage of their life where they’re susceptible to being easily manipulated. Kids are now more likely to grow up using what they’ve learned from watching these shows in their own relationships.

Kid shows do not need love interests majority of the time. Yet, these channels tend to show kids all of the complicated and complex parts of relationships. Granted, relationships can be confusing, but kids shouldn’t have to go through horrible television love tropes such as: the ever popular “will they, won’t they”, the frequent “girl/boy next door”, the overdone “opposites attract”, and the famous “love triangle/web”.

Unfortunately, these cliche love sub-plots have carried into television  shows for older audiences. The usual tropes are amped up to even worse measures because they have more range. Some of the best shows on television still find themselves using these sub-plots when they have run out of ideas.

Grey’s Anatomy, the hit ABC television show, is a perfect example of this. The show just started its 16th season—which to some could be a stretch, but to each its own—and has gone though a lot of overdone love sub-plots. The worst one in my opinion? During season five, a character in the show was going through the stages of grief due to the death of her ex-fiancé. Usually, if done right, shows can depict these stages nicely and interweave them to the overall storyline.

That didn’t happen with Grey’s Anatomy. Instead, they decided to have the character hallucinate about having encounters with the ghost of her dead ex-fiancé. Majority of the time the encounters made no sense whatsoever and could be seen as inappropriate.

The point is that having love sub-plots in television shows are perfectly fine. However, they have to be executed correctly for them to work. Television channels that are dedicated to creating content for children usually make this mistake due to their affinity for doing most things with a sense of mediocrity.

Television love tropes should be left to the professionals, and sometimes the professionals should leave them alone.