Moving Past the Curse

The dreaded Moonlighting Curse: the spell that has put a dark cloud over romantic television duos since an ill-fated day in March 1987. Maddie (Cybil Shepherd) and David (Bruce Willis) on Moonlighting finally owned up to their obvious attraction in the third season finale. After the combining of the two, the series went into a stalemate trying to get viewers’ feet wet in this new world of a “will-they-won’t-they” couple finally becoming a big, flashing “they-did.” However, not soon after, Moonlighting lost viewers and the drive to keep production moving and eventually was canceled two seasons later. This process of a decline became known throughout the television industry as the Moonlighting curse. Feared by many series creators and producers, they too did not want to be out of a job and their characters dead to the television world. However, the spell is being broken and the antidote was to bite the bullet and force characters together. No questions asked. And that’s just what Bones and Castle did. Their “screw it” attitude not only pushed them past their walls, but also kept their viewership steady along with their characters.

For six years, two main characters on Fox’s hit show, Bones, tiptoed around their fateful romance for the sake of their audience (or for the sake of not losing their audience). Temperance “Bones” Brennan (Emily Deschanel), a forensic anthropologist, and her partner in non – crime, FBI agent Seeley Booth (David Boreanaz), pushed a blind eye to the sexual elephant in the room and simply did their job for the government. The writers of the show subdued the feelings of their viewers by giving them cheeky moments, blush worthy dialogue, and one dream sequence episode filled with enough kisses, sex, and even a baby on the way to hold them off for a while. However, while given the credit to finally pursuing a fully aware, non-comatose or dream sequence relationship, this show didn’t dive right in. Instead it stood at the edge of the cursed pool, tested the waters, looked around nervously, possibly saw that Castle was about to cannonball in, and finally pencil dived into the waters. While it receives the credit for helping Hollywood start to push itself out of this rut, it does not get full credit for being as badass as its competition. Currently, Bones has skipped the honeymoon period and is in a mature relationship, baby and all. After Bones had Booth’s daughter, they ran away from the government only to return in the second episode of the current season to begin a domestic life. The show is now sitting in a suburban house drinking coffee and watching their series settle down.

However, ABC’s suddenly successful crime drama, Castle, began its fifth season merely hours after a heat-filled night, which allowed its audience to see into the awkward, but shamelessly adorable lives of the new “Caskett.” NYPD Detective Kate Beckett (Stana Katic), the “kett” in shipper name, and the yang to her yin, mystery novelist and partner, Richard Castle, finally did the deed and sent “fangirls” collapsing into their “feels” all over the Internet. After creating the sexy character Nikki Heat for Kate Beckett, Castle finally was able to confess his feelings and win the girl. Andrew Marlow, creator of the drama, has claimed that he does not believe that the “Moonlighting Curse” has ever existed. He puts the blame of Moonlighting’s cancellation on producer’s missing their delivery dates, changes to the show’s schedule and confused viewers. Instead, on Castle, he’s doing what he thought was right for the characters. He is currently showing television writers on all networks that it’s okay. If it’s right, then dive in. Make a splash. And while doing so, Marlowe is breaking down the walls not only of Kate Beckett’s emotional turmoil, but also to how television series are going to form in the future. Castle has kept its post-sex ratings high, winning its fourth Monday night in a row for ABC’s 10pm time slot.

Ross and Rachel from Friends had a rocky relationship throughout the series, but eventually got together

Paving a way for these curse-breaking series were mini curse shakers along the way. Friends proved that it was not sufficient enough to have your couple together and then break up – or to go on a break. Then get together, have a child, break up, get on a plane, and then finally be together. This dramatic process is too much and will build a friend wall between viewers and their OTP, one true paring, severely quick. (For those not as familiar with the “fangirl” culture, a OTP is a viewer’s main romantic-duo interest that they must see come to life on television. In other words, shippers, or fans longing to see the coupling of two television characters, will sometimes pick one pair from all of their shows to “ship” the most).

However, show creators for Chuck revealed that it was okay to have a plan. They were dead set on getting Sarah and Chuck together regardless of what their competition or curse watchers were saying or doing. From day one, these two people were going to end up tying the knot. However, due to various reasons or places to blame, including time slots, networks, etc., Chuck was eventually canceled.

Other series tested out their couples – and their viewers’ loyalty. CBS’ How I Met Your Mother aired its pilot episode leading audiences to begin to ship, or want to see a romantic relationship, between Ted and Robin. However, in the last moment of the episode, future Ted tells us, and his kids, that this is how he met their Aunt Robin, throwing a huge familial wall between what we thought we wanted and what is going to happen in the future. However, this did not deplete the show. It’s still up and running eight seasons later.

With new developments over the past two decades, aka: the Internet, fans can now voice their opinions. Blogs, Twitter accounts, Facebook groups, etc. are shouting the views of the fans. They are keeping their beloved shows afloat. Modern day television writers are seeing this and making sure to send little zingers during their episodes to keep them happy, and to make sure they know that they are cherished. Fan’s coined the shipper name, “Caskett,” for Castle and Beckett well before they became Caskett on May 7th. Fans put it on blogs and referred to it throughout the show’s four seasons. Now, on October 15th’s episode, the two characters discuss what their “Brangelina” name would be. They throw some unusual combinations back and forth until they finally decide that “Castkett” is perfect, sending millions of diehard fans into a figurative cardiac arrest.

Breathe easy network executives. Take a giant breath of relief series producers. You will still be employed after your fictional moneybags have sex. Moonlighting’s David and Maddie did not ruin the fun for everyone; they just postponed it for the weaker worrisome show runners. As Time magazine says, “television series have moved away from a static format where everything is returned to quo at the end of each episode…”. We are turning over a new leaf in the era of television for both writers and viewers.

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