In the sadly defunct television show Scrubs, Zach Braff's character, JD, comically thinks the Gift Shop Girl he had a crush on is dead because she's inexplicably fallen off his radar. As it turns out, she just got married.
J.D.: I thought you died.
Gift Shop Girl: Nope. I just got married.
J.D.: But I sent your family flowers.
Gift Shop Girl: I know. You bought them from me. It was kind of weird.
On TV, the moment a couple marries, their story ends. The show might drag on for another season, but when the romantic tension ends, so does the story. It's a rule.
And the shows with married people in them? Well, the husband and wife are ancillary characters, overshadowed by their children, or they exist in a space dominated by sexist stereotypes—the wife is a whining nag. Husband is a bumbling fool. Wash. Rinse. Repeat. Until mercifully canceled.
I'm not the only one who notices. According to a recent study published in the journal "Mass Communication and Society," people who take stock in the romantic plotlines seen on TV are less committed to their own real-life relationships and are "more likely to be drawn to alternatives to their current partner."
Newsflash: TV doesn't depict reality and we're all disappointed. Next, I'll tell you how the science on crime procedurals is mostly fictitious, and that there is no way that the Big Bang Theory nerds would all be so devoid of acne in real life. *Cue Sad Music.*
I bring up the issue because I think that there is an accurate depiction of marriage on TV—it's just disguised behind blood, gore, murder and the aforementioned fictitious science. The partnership between crime-solving partners like Booth and Bones, Mulder and Scully (before they kissed, that is), Chris O'Donnell and LL Cool J, are more realistic portrayals of the ongoing saga of a marriage than Modern Family could ever aspire to depict. 5 TV Couples Who Should Take Their Love Off-Screen
Don't get me wrong. I love me some Modern Family but the push and pull, the anger, frustration, tension, joy, humor, of my marriage is more accurately portrayed by crime-fighting duos than by Claire and Phil.
Here is why. Even beyond the stereotypes—I'm more bumbling than my husband and he never forgets garbage day—the truth is, our relationship is a side-by-side adventure of Criminal Minds-like discovery. We aren't solving crime. (Unless it's the crime of why our lawn keeps dying—a truly riveting mystery.) But we are working together to solve the puzzle of "how to manage work, marriage and a kid without losing our minds." He's an engineer. I'm a writer. On a given morning, we're focused on our ritualized dance of who showers first, who gets the baby up, breakfast, lunch-packing, daycare drop-off. We're a well-oiled machine. We get crap done while The Who play in the background.
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