exactly that

a pale woman with dark hair in a white robe and a pale man with dark hair in a blue shirt and tan vest, the man is kissing the woman on the forehead.This is one of my favorite (and by favorite, I mean, really, I love a good romance story or sub-story, but do they ALL have to have apocalyptic consequences?) TV Tropes. The forbidden fruit.

Angel stalks into Buffy’s life in S1 Ep. 01 “Welcome to the Hellmouth”, and I don’t know how initial viewers reacted to him, because while I probably would have liked a show like Buffy if it had been on my radar it just really wasn’t at the time. I don’t know if anyone else was as creeped as I was by Angel, and given that I knew who he was, because I came into the Buffyverse via Angel the Series, that is saying something.

I am just saying that skulking around in shadows and giving cryptic warnings to a scared 16 year-old girl might not be the best way to warm her to your affections, even if you know that harboring those affections might be a bad idea. Other things to remember might include getting the words “hey, cupcake, I used to be an evil bloodsucking hellbeast, but now I’m a cuddly bloodsucking hellbeast thanks to a really old, sucky, curse”, (and I might be able to get “suck” into this sentence one more time if I try!) before you get your tonsil-hockey on. Just sayin’.

But still, Forbidden Romance or no, Buffy still managed to have what that Other Vampire Romance Story about a teenage girl and her vampire sweetheart had in it (OK, more than “a” thing): conflict. Real conflict. Beyond the “I shouldn’t like you but I can’t help it” thing.

But I am digressing again…

What is it about what we can’t/shouldn’t have that makes it instantly the Most SEXXAY Thing Evah?

Moving ahead in my Buffy Blogging a bit, those of us who have seen Buffy before (I know there are some of you who haven’t seen it yet, and it’s OK, I don’t judge you, I haven’t seen a single episode of Dr. Who and I am not ashamed…), eventually Buffy and Angel get it on and Hell On Earth breaks out. OK, well, Buffy has to kill her boyfriend in the World’s Worst Teenage Sex Metaphor Evah. But some of us want it. I am willing to bet if I Google it, there is a world of Fandom out there devoted to it. So, why are we drawn to it? Why is it that something that shouldn’t be makes for incredible storytelling, or at least makes fans scream for more of it?

But this is bigger than Buffy. (BIGGER THAN BUFFY!!??!?!?!11!?)

There is the (I really don’t want to spoil it for you peeps) Angel/Cordelia arch…which had all the makings of destroying the world again, when the need arose to tear out Angel’s soul in order to defeat The Beast…and that was just a dream (it’s a damned good thing it is only Perfect Happiness, huh?). Because the idea of having Cordelia, after the near miss of everything he wanted when she was, as s.e. put it, fucking RAPTURED when he was kidnapped by his son, we get the suspense of the forbidden love that we found ourselves cheering for. But there was something strangely enticing and perhaps even erotic about the thought of Angel achieving that moment of bliss, that thing that he had tormented himself without for years (and perhaps the things that finally got him to stop fucking brooding over Buffy…but I was anti-Angel/Buffy *ducks*)…that he could have it even if it meant unleashing evil in the world… To hell with the World, thinks the viewer, because we need to see this!

In Legend of the Seeker, we have Richard and Kahlan, the Seeker and Mother Confessor, who despite all the Warnings! that they can no possibly be together have gone and fallen in love w/ each other, and the writers of the TV series could not bludgeon us upside the head w/ this theme any more. But the setup was transparent: Man Seeker, Woman Confessor whose power is to touch people and make them fall in love with her, and who can conjure the truth out of everything. She is seriously badass, and despite the stiff acting (by other actors) at times, she is one of the best written female characters on a TV show I have seen in a while. But she and Richard can never be, because it would A) distract from his Mission to Save the World, and B) ’cause Kahlan to lose control of her powers and strip him of his soul, which would cause Richard to be useless for his Mission to Save the World. (This is resolved later, but for the point where I am now, it fits). But for some reason, in spite of this, or maybe partly because of this, Richard and Kahlan can not seem to stay out of situations where they find themselves falling more and more in love with each other. And even w/ the cudgel of bad writing* hitting me episode after episode, I know that there are people who find this shit hot. (OK, it’s a little hot). People obviously want it, because people keep writing it into their television series.

Anakin and Padme were doomed from the beginning, and while I have some WAY creepy feelings about the way that relationship was framed from the beginning, what with her being practically an adult and him being a child and it just being awkward and all…I still feel that you got the feeling (even if you were not familiar with the decades-old lore that was Darth Vader’s fall) that shit was Not Right here and that they were not going to be OK even though you were supposed to pull for them. That love was not going to conquer all or whatever the Power Ballads told us. It was against Jedi teaching. It was probably against good form for the Senate. But yet, in a secret way you have to admit that part of you cheered them on and hoped it would happen. We wanted it, evil outcome and all. And all the “Imperial March” strands woven into the score couldn’t keep us from holding our collective breath whenever they got close enough to touch.

Leo and Piper on Charmed. The White Lighter and his witch were forbidden by the Elders from being romantically involved, and doubly so when the prophecy told of the child that would be Wyatt. The Elders even tried to stop them from getting married in secret. In fact, one could argue that every relationship that happened on Charmed was in some way Cosmically Forbidden, as there was this running theme of Powerful Women charged with Protecting the World (AKA San Francisco) weren’t allowed to have any kind of regular lives a la Buffy. Cole (played by Julian McMahon) , the half demon, Jason (played by Eric Dane) the really powerful newspaper mogul, Richard, the Magic Addict…all of these were doomed relationships that seemed meant to tell them that they just should not be able to balance work and life…but Piper’s story was the special one, as she moved into the Mother stage of life on top of being the Elder sister. Her Extra Special Doomed Relationship was always the Cautionary Tale, taken away for disobeying, taken away so as not to be a distraction…you get the idea.

There are others that come to mind, though not all of them TV/Movie related. Joscelin and Phèdre, the Casseline Brother and the anguissette, who aren’t really cosmically forbidden, but are really just so oddly paired that it frustrates the story…in a really good way, and Imri and Sidonie for that matter.

Any others that you can think of, dearest readers?

Discuss away!

*Um, it is a really good show. I feel like the writing is kind of shoddy at times, but the story is really great, and I really love this show. I plan to write more about it in depth later. But I love this show, bad writing and all.

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Comments on: "The Cosmically Forbidden Romance…" (10)

  1. As much as I enjoy a “forbidden fruit” romance, I do have to say that as a model for relationships it sucks. In a massive, painful way.

    Slightly off topic, Legend of the seeker is comically bad compared to the books its based on. The books are rather well written despite Richard being the ultimate mary-sue and despite having some pretty horrific shit in them (lots of “rape as the worst thing to happen to anyone evar” and a great deal of disturbing gendered violence.)

    • They ARE a bad model for relationships. For way more reasons than I have room/time to get into right here, but yes. And a lot of these examples that I have pointed out actually draw those out to the raw conclusion. I don’t think anyone would argue that Anakin or Padme had a very good personal outcome, or that it didn’t bring a lot of emotional pain for Piper and Leo. One that was forever aggravating to me was the Cordelia/Angel arch, because I was personally pissed off w/ the what happened to Cordelia in AtS, but that has little to do w/ this post topic at all. That has, IMO, a lot more to do w/ Joss and the others at the show possibly shaming/punishing Carpenter for having a life/family, or whatever happened there. Cordelia deserved better than S4 arch and her subsequent writing off the show in a “save the dude w/ my last breath/kiss” gesture…but I have just derailed my own thread…

      In my original Legend of the Seeker post, I mentioned that The Guy has read all of the books. Watching the show w/ them is…an experience. He is always yelling about how this or that is done R-O-N-G. I guess he missed the part where it said it was a “loose adaptation”. I am enjoying the show on a standalone basis. I actually find Kahlan one of the better written fantasy women on television in a long time (but not without flaws that I want to discuss in later posts after I have a chance to finish S1 and go back and re-watch some of the episodes). There is a lot to dissect in the show alone. I find Richard horribly headstrong, and I love the actor that plays Zedd. The Guy wants me to read the books, and a friend asks “Why would he want you to read a book where a chicken is evil, personified”, but I may give it a go. I’ve seen your reviews of the show. I disagreed w/ your thoughts on Kahlan, only slightly in that from what was explained to me the Confessor’s powers are supposed to drain you temporarily (unless you are a male Confessor), and The Guy thought they were slightly more charitable to her in ways in the show (he actually thought they made her more martial and badass, but that yes, she should carry more of an aura of intimidation at the very sight of her, as Midland people should recognize her by her white robes and long hair). Not having read the books, I’ll reserve my judgment for now until I read the books, if I manage to get through my current reading list. I promise to have more LotS threads to discuss this material with you! I am finding more and more secret Terry Goodkind fans out there…and I have a piiiile of notes of stuff to address already!

  2. “Forbidden Fruit” romance is a very convenient plot device. In addition to what you say it also allows writers to keep characters in a sort of limbo while they come up with what to do with them next. I think one example of this is Spike after season 2 of Buffy. By the end of season two I think they knew they had an interesting character in Spike and needed a way to keep him.

    • And keep him they did!

      During our “Summer of Buffy” marathon we just got to the first episode where you meed Spike and Drusilla (S2, Ep.3 “School Hard”), and even Kid likes Spike in a strangely amusing way. Off the top of my head I can’t remember what season it is when Spike starts to crush on Buffy, but that is another one, even though it goes unrequited for quite some time. It does make for a plot device, though in some cases (I’m looking at YOU, Legend of the Seeker, *cough*), I think I could stand to be bludgeoned w/ the script a few less times w/ it. In fact, I think Charmed could have done w/ a little less of the “OH WOES, MY POOR LOVE LIFE!”… I think a good romantic slant can feed a story sometimes but sometimes it can smother a good story if it is over done. It is also way too predictable. I called the Richard/Kahlan pairing when they both showed up at Zedd’s house, and The Guy was laughing so hard he couldn’t even lie to tell me he wouldn’t tell me…When Cordelia showed up in L.A., I knew it was only a matter of time (Doyle or no Doyle). Maybe I am just cynical.

      • As far as Spike’s feelings for Buffy as a viewer you see it long before he actually considers it himself.

        Yeah if you take out the “Oh Woes, My Poor Love Life” out of Charmed you would cut the first three seasons (the only ones I care for, to the devil with the rest of the series) by at least half. And frankly they way they dealt with relationships on that show was not particularly friendly to men or women.

        And you would have to be blind to not see Angel/Cordy coming from a few dozen miles away.

        I have to get around to buying the Buffy box set (got the Angel set on ebay for $65 last year) so I can watch them in a marathon (season 5 was my fav though)

  3. And you would have to be blind to not see Angel/Cordy coming from a few dozen miles away.

    Danny, in the future I would prefer it if you would not use language that uses disability as a metaphor. Perhaps try “have a bag over your head” or “be asleep through half of the show”.

    I will have to respectfully disagree about the seasons of Charmed. I only own the first three seasons because of have a thing about sets. I hated Prue’s character. So. Much. I always felt like it was the ALL ABOUT PRUE SHOW with Piper and Pheobe too. But, yes, I felt that the writers did not treat relationships well, and one that I very much disliked was Eric Dane’s character, but I can’t remember (and I have too many windows open ATM) if his leaving coincided w/ the starting of Grey’s or not, but I really felt that they dragged the Not Telling of Jason too long, and that he reacted poorly, and that it was not in line w/ how his character would have reacted. I think he would have handled it better. But that show had so many awful twists and turns…

  4. About the seasons of Charmed I really tried to keep watching after season three (got to somewhere in season five) but it just changed too much for my liking. It kinda felt like the magic had taken a background to all the other things that were going on and because just another soap opera with a little magic tied into it.

  5. […] looking white boys, and who accidentally sees Buffy kissing Angel, clearly misunderstanding their Cosmically Forbidden Romance for, well, sexay vampire love because who would… OH […]

  6. I felt the Prue series of Charmed was a very The All About Prue Show as well! And then when Holly Marie got pregnant for real (with Chris) it turned into the Phoebe and Paige show as they wrote Piper’s role smaller for her. I feel the writers handled creating conflict in a very clumsy way… that being said, I was a massive Charmed fan.

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