Family, Self

Why My Marriage Would Make A Terrible Sitcom

criminal minds

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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That's the crux of this whole thing. The boring truth of a day-to-day relationship isn't sexy enough for TV. It's the ins and outs of who did the dishes, what's for dinner and why the baby is chewing on a lamp cord that makes the matrix of a real marriage. That's why the people in the study who base their relationships expectations off of television are left wanting. When TV portrays a relationship, they depict the highs and the lows, which in reality make up only 10% of a relationship. The other 90% is spent fishing your partner's socks out from under the couch.

With crime shows, as with marriage, the story is in the minute details. Those little "How was your day? Did you know that the opossum is eating our trash again?" conversations are as important to a marriage as fingerprinting is to a crime scene. And both exercises are often tedious, but they lead to revelations. Some good. Some disappointing, but it's all for a greater cause—truth, justice and the deepening of your relationship.

This is why I don't bother with most family dramas, rom-coms, or sitcoms (with the small exception of 30 Rock and Parks and Rec, because… hilarious). Instead, you'll find me and my husband on Wednesday nights, watching Criminal Minds, Law and Order (all of them), CSI (the original), and getting excited about the new Sherlock (all of them). 3 Fall TV Shows To Watch As A Couple & 3 To Watch Solo

Marriage isn't some sort of Notebook turned hilariously blighted, happily-ever-after scenario. It's an adventure into process, ritual, and discovery. It's dark and ugly. It's triumphant and humorous. It's gritty and there is usually some blood involved, and it doesn't end when the sexual tension does, oh no, that my friends, is actually just the beginning.

Lyz Lenz is a writer who talks about her sick love of crime and her less-sick love of her husband over on

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