TV relationships are often vastly different from their real-life counterparts. There's much more drama and intrigue because those things are dramatically interesting and compelling. As a result, relationships that may seem at first blush to be romantic or swoon-inducing become a lot harder to live with in our current moment. The #MeToo era has led to a reevaluation of art both in front of and behind the camera, including a look back at some era-defining TV relationships. What once seemed harmless now seems emblematic of all the issues our society is dealing with concerning power dynamics and consent.
The issues with these relationships can come in a number of forms. Sometimes, the relationship is rife with jealousy and fights that don't seem to mean much of anything. Other times, one or both of the characters involved has problems in the rest of their life that infect the relationship. Whatever the case may be, these relationships don't hold up very well under a magnifying glass, even if they initially seemed cute. Here are 17 TV relationships that are pretty gross post-#MeToo.
Meredith and Derek are meant to be the true love relationship at the center of Grey's Anatomy. The problem is, the foundation for that relationship is more than a little icky. Derek is an attending at Seattle Grace, and Meredith is an intern. That leads to an imbalance in power that is tough to reckon with now, especially when you look at how he pursued her after she clearly stated she wasn't interested.
What's more, Derek doesn't reveal that he's married. When he's forced to choose between Meredith and his wife, he chooses his wife. MerDer may have lived happily ever after together, but Derek is also a cheating husband who possibly abused his power at work to have an affair. Not a great lewk.
Gossip Girl is another show characterized by unstable relationships, with Chuck and Blair at the top of that totem pole. On the best days, the two of them enjoyed playing with and manipulating one another. That's not usually the marker of a healthy relationship, but if it worked for them, who are we to judge?
That's not the worst of it, though. Chuck could often be inconsiderate of Blair, and even toed the line of verbal abuse on more than one occasion. He also considered exchanging her for a hotel. None of that really adds up to anything resembling a healthy, functional relationship.
A lot of the entries on this list will feature TV bad boys of one sort or another. Logan Echolls is a prototypical example of that kind of man on Veronica Mars. He comes from a wealthy but broken home, and he often acts out in ways that are violent and counterproductive. Veronica Mars is a smart girl, but she can't seem to resist his charming recklessness.
Although he never hurts her, he is violent around her. Logan is an unstable guy, and that instability extends to his relationship with Veronica. They may have remarkable chemistry, but at the end of the day, their relationship isn't good for either of them.
Buffy had a habit of choosing bad men, and Spike was the worst of the lot. He may have been in love with Buffy, but he also lacked a soul. As a result, it was often tough for him to tell when he was doing the wrong thing. The most starkly traumatic example of this comes when Spike attempts to rape Buffy after she ends their fling.
That scene is one of the hardest to watch in the entirety of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Even before that moment, though, Spike and Buffy have a toxic relationship. They may have plenty of sexual chemistry, but that doesn't make them a healthy couple.
Empire is a show built around hugely dramatic moments. Thankfully, it centers on the relationship between Cookie and Lucious Lyon, so the drama is never hard to find. Lucious and Cookie are totally in love one minute, and at each other's throats the next.
Their relationship is hugely volatile, and has given them both a huge amount of instability. It's no wonder that, despite their wealthy lifestyle, all three of their kids have issues. They didn't grow up in the most stable environment, and that's largely Cookie and Lucious's fault. Their relationship is simply too unstable to ever function as it should.
Carrie and Mr. Big have a famously problematic relationship, but there are some Sex and the City fans who used to find it romantic. Today, it's clear that the relationship is deeply unhealthy. Mr. Big is virtually incapable of meeting any of Carrie's emotional needs, but she returns to him time after time.
The show is aware of the dysfunction at the heart of this relationship, but in the end, they end up together anyway. His cold, distant persona is one that Carrie believes is mysterious and intriguing, when in fact, it's a signal that she could never be in a healthy relationship with him.
When Aria and Ezra begin dating, Aria is underage, and Ezra is her teacher. Even so, Pretty Little Liars asks its fans to root for the couple. In fact, for most of its run, it doesn't seem to be all that troubled by the age and consent issues that underlie the relationship.
In the early seasons, Ezra had plausible deniability because the two of them met in a bar, and so Ezra may not have known how old she is until she sat down in his class. Eventually, we learn that Ezra did know. That doesn't exactly make things better. In fact, it makes them much, much worse.
Olivia Pope may be hyper-competent in her work life, but her relationship with the president is a disaster. Despite Fitz's marriage, the two are forever drawn toward one another. Sure, there may be romantic moments between them, but those moments are deceptive for both Olivia and the show's fans.
In different circumstances, they may be able to function together. Inside of the White House, though, it's a recipe for disaster. You can't hide an affair forever when the eyes of the world are watching. Even the most stable of relationships sometimes can't survive that, and this certainly isn't one of the world's best relationships. /
Joey and Dawson have an incredibly unstable relationship. Although Joey had long harbored a crush on Dawson, when they actually got together, she had trouble expressing her feelings with him. What's more, he had a habit of lashing out or making public displays that were both uncalled for and unnecessary.
Their breakup made a lot of sense. Dawson may be a little too self-centered to ever have a truly functional relationship with anyone. Eventually, though, they find their way back together. Although it may have seemed romantic in the moment, this was probably a bad call for them both in the long term.
Gilmore Girls is not a show about women who know how to have stable relationships. Even so, Lorelai's relationship with Christopher has to take the cake. Although Christopher is the father of Lorelai's kid, the two never seem able to form a mutually beneficial bond.
Instead, there are plenty of drunken outbursts and late-night meetings. What's more, Lorelai often keeps her interactions with Christopher a secret from Luke, the person she actually ends up with. Christopher and Lorelai have a long history, but that history doesn't make them any more stable around one another. Instead, their time together is characterized by dysfunction.
Dating bad boys almost never leads to anything good. Dylan is a prototypical bad boy. He's got parental abandonment issues and an alcohol problem. Brenda knows all of this but chooses to be with him anyway. From then on, they have a whirlwind romance that involves a number of breakups. Eventually, though, they get together for good.
It's possible that in the fantasy world of Beverly Hills, 90210, everything works out fine for them both. It's more likely, though, that not everything will be peachy for these lovebirds.
Khal Drogo is widely regarded as one of the best hangs in all of Game of Thrones. He starts out seeming like a murderous monster, and we eventually see how warm and caring he is toward Daenerys. On the night of their wedding, though, Drogo rapes her. That fact is one which is hard to overcome.
It may be true that Drogo didn't know any better, but it's still a terrible, unforgivable fact. At the very least, it makes the tragedy of Drogo's death a little more complicated. Maybe Dany really did love him by the time he died. Even so, it's hard to forgive him for his earlier sins.
Ross and Rachel are one of the most iconic TV couples of all time, so they may seem like a bad fit for this week. Just because they're popular, though, doesn't mean they hold up to close examination. When they're actually dating and even afterward, Ross is hugely jealous. He doesn't trust that Rachel will ever really want to date him, which makes their relationship unstable.
As the two attempt to move on from one another, they sabotage each other's relationships time and time again. Rachel flew to London to keep Ross from marrying someone else. Ross and Rachel may be each other's "lobsters," but that doesn't mean their relationship is a good one.
Rory and Dean started out as an idyllic teen relationship — if there is such thing. Dean was a simple guy, but he was stable. He was always there for Rory, and the two got along well. When they try to reignite their relationship, things don't go nearly as well. Things start when Dean cheats on his wife with Rory and she even has her first sexual experience with him while he's still in a committed relationship with his wife.
From there, Dean seems to resent every part of Rory's life that he isn't involved in. Their relationship eventually falls apart, in part because it's clear that Dean isn't satisfied with his own life. Rory didn't always engage in healthy relationships, but this time with Dean was the worst.
Creator Amy Sherman-Palladino has three entries on this list, which makes her the queen of problematic relationships. When The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel begins, Joel and Midge seem to have a picture-perfect relationship. AS the show progresses, though, we see the cracks, mostly as a result of Joel's fragile masculinity.
He leaves Midge for his secretary, becoming the height of cliche in the process. When Midge finds a kinder, more open man to build a life with, she runs from him and back to Joel. It's a destructive, dumpster fire of a decision that reminds us how destructive the relationship between them is.
Piper and Alex aren't together when Piper enters prison, and it probably should have stayed that way. As they spend time together in prison, though, they slowly grow back together, and then apart, and then back together. Ultimately, it's a roller coaster ride that no one really wants to be on.
They may seem perfect for one another. In the real world, though, they both ended up in prison as a result of their relationship. It seems like their time together has a little too much danger to be any good for them. Sometimes, even the most passionate of relationships isn't worth the risk.