What Was the Most Balanced TV Love Triangle?
Today, I’m looking to see which TV love triangle you think was the most balanced between the two possible romantic options.
Pop Culture Theme Time is a feature where I put a question to you to see what you think about a particular theme. I might later revisit the theme for a future Drawing Crazy Patterns or Top Five.
Love triangles, of course, are one of the most common plot devices in serialized television. It’s one of the easiest (and fairly natural) ways to drum up some personal drama with your leads. The problem is that rarely are the love triangles much of a real choice. Almost always, there is a clear leader between the two options and the other side of the triangle is just sort of an obstacle to eventually be overcome.
However, sometimes shows do a really good job with their love triangles, giving us a balanced love triangle. What love triangle do you think was the most balanced one on TV?
I’m going with the famous Felicity/Ben/Noel love triangle on Felicity. The concept of the series was that Keri Russell’s Felicity moves to New York for college after her high school crush, Ben (Scott Speedman) wrote a note in her senior yearbook that he wished he could have gotten to know her more, so she follows him to college in New York. Once there, though, she meets her resident advisor, Noel (Scott Foley), and they have a real connection, as well. The triangle was so balance you could tell that the shoe really had no idea on HOW to end things.
That’s my pick. What’s yours?
And feel free to suggest future Pop Culture Theme Time topics to me at firstname.lastname@example.org!
2 thoughts on “What Was the Most Balanced TV Love Triangle?”
I thought that Luke, Lorelai, and Christopher on Gilmore Girls was pretty even at first. Christopher was always pretty likable (although a bit bland), but he was good for Rory and seemed to keep evolving. Luke also did a lot of evolving as the show went on, but he was clearly the “work in progress” who needed Lorelai to help him get in touch with who he wanted to be. Either choice would have been understandable. Then she went and eloped with Christopher and his character had to go to shit so the Luke romance could be the eventual big story.
I never realized how Rory’s relationships with Jess and Logan were similar to her mom’s relationships with Luke and Christopher until the sequel series. That sequel was like so many streaming sequels – weirdly paced and almost unnecessary yet with some great moments (like Emily’s coda) that make you overlook some of Gypsy’s weird maid character and all of Rory’s flailing. Some of it.
I am going to go with some animated comic book adaptations. The challenge for many cartoons based on comics is there usually is an established “ship” that the licensed characters almost have to conform to, or are expected to do so. Yet some shows make their own continuity in spite of that and it can work out pretty well.
In 2000’s “X-MEN: EVOLUTION” on Kid’s WB, the main love triangle was between Jean/Scott/Rogue. Because of the format of the show, Wolverine wasn’t involved for once (since most of the X-Men were teenagers, save for him, Storm, and Professor X), so that right there made it different. The canon led everyone to expect that Jean/Scott were inevitable. But Scott/Rogue had plenty of chemistry and scenes together over the course of three seasons, plus at least one of the show’s writers/directors/producers being on record to preferring that “ship,” made it seem more balanced than it normally would be for cartoons about characters from 1963. In the end, Scott/Jean was just too iconic to ignore, but for three seasons it was a genuine contest and there are still ardent Scott/Rogue shippers out there as the show finds a new audience on Disney+.
On the same network, 2008’s “SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN” pulled off something similar. The Greg Weisman-helmed show made many timely shifts to the canon to modernize it or eliminate needless characters (i.e. “merging” some like Montana/Shocker). One of them was recreating and embellishing many of Peter Parker’s supporting cast members. The ironic couple as per the canon, at the time, would be Peter/Gwen Stacy. Yet fairly soon in the 2-season run there was a solid Liz Allen/Peter/Gwen triangle going on. In the comics, Peter and Liz never dated, but the show handled things so well that it became a legitimate triangle, especially since the show was willing to alter things which were “canon” or at least do a good fake-out (i.e. the identity of Green Goblin, capitalizing on the then-recent “SPIDER-MAN 3” to keep the mystery genuine). Since the show was canned after Disney’s purchase of Marvel made it untenable, we never got a clear resolution. Liz and Peter broke up, but he never did “get” with Gwen.
So those are two cases where cartoons with a clear “ship” managed to make legit love triangles out of other characters despite decades of expectations, which I think is a triumph.