Romance: Best Left to Soap Operas?

Contributing Author BethTX unknowingly came to the rescue. I have been tweeting and writing a lot (like A LOT) about Ben, the past few days especially. So to bring us a healthy dose of cynicism (I live on that stuff), here she is!

Last week I had a strange bout of sunny disposition. Fortunately, a sleepless night has cured that and I’m back to myself. Good thing, too; my friends were starting to mutter about having me committed for “observation” and I think I saw one of them with a tranquilizer gun. Anyway, I’ve ranted about the unrealism of Falling Skies romances before, but it’s to the point that I’m inflicting an entire article on you. And away we go…

If you’ve decided to read on let me say that TV romance is okay in its proper setting: soap operas, Jennifer Aniston movies, and Jerry Springer. In these instances the viewer is forewarned and can take evasive maneuvers such as gouging his eyes out, stomping up and down on the satellite receiver or, if you’re less reactive than I am, changing the channel. When the poorly-timed and painfully unrealistic affair invades an otherwise-stellar show like FS, I have to release the beast a little.

Basically, I have two problems with the FS romances: poor timing and lack of realism. Setting aside the obvious—namely, that there’s an alien apocalypse going on, every day is a fight for survival, and there’s just no time for this junk—I’d like to make my case for why these things should be dropped altogether.

Let’s start with the Hal/Maggie fling. This can be labeled “To keep the interest of giggly teenage girls who picture themselves dropping 50 lbs.’ and becoming Hal’s kickass partner”. The poor timing comes in because Karen has just been abducted when he starts to flirt with Maggie. I don’t know Karen’s last name, but I started calling her Karen Who because that’s what Hal seemed to say the minute Maggie showed up. She was mentioned only once in the rest of the first season when we learned the incredibly important detail that she liked key chains. Girly ones. I guess none of this matters now, as Karen is pitching for Team Overlord, but it still would have been nice to see Hal grieve for Karen for more than the keychain convo with Tom.

The second criteria—unrealism—abounds in Hal/Maggie. I could build a FS drinking game where one of the criteria would be “Hal and Maggie talk about their feelings during an alien attack”. On second thought, no. I can’t be responsible for that much mass liver damage in the world. Suffice it to say that if there’s a Mech, Skitter, man-eating spider, or time-sensitive jail break around, Hal and Maggie can be found discussing their relationship. Or lack of it now? Yawn.

On to the Tom/Anne fiasco: Where to start with this one? If Hal/Maggie is for giggling teen girls, Tom/Anne is for unsatisfied middle-aged housewives who picture themselves dropping 50 lbs to become Tom’s loving partner (apparently, said housewife’s hubby has become Skitter fodder). Timing: well, they started giving each other the eye and making awkward inroads during the first episode, six months after the alien attack. Somewhere within those six months Tom’s wife was killed while scavenging for food to feed her family and he had to discover her body. Add to that the fact that his middle son has been abducted and harnessed for unknown evil purposes and we have the perfect storm for—nothing. Nope, realistically, nothing should happen here except that Tom grieves his wife, puts all efforts into getting Ben back, and the rest of his 25-hour-days into leading the 2nd Mass.

Speaking of Mason boys (and I occasionally wonder if Tom has forgotten he has any or if he’s left questioning why three kids constantly insist on following him around and calling him Dad), how are they okay with this? “Well, we planted Mom’s alien-mutilated body a few months ago and that kinda sucks, but look at dad getting back up into the saddle!” seems like a horrifically unrealistic reaction to watching their father quickly replace their mother. Tom/Anne would have been somewhat more palatable if it had started in the second season after a year had gone by.

Where does Matt sleep? That’s been bugging me since we started the episode with Tom and Anne waking up together in the hospital, then again during this last episode. I hope he’s not actually in the room while whoopee is being made, but that also means that Tom is foisting his parenting duties off on his older sons. It seems unlikely that Ben and Hal live in the same room, as they tend to hiss at each other, so I guess poor Matt is semi-orphaned while Dad has his fun. I picture him drifting from brother to brother depending on which one is not having a crisis at the time. Matt Mason: the post-apocalyptic tumbleweed.

I said I wouldn’t belabor the fact that there simply isn’t time during an apocalypse, but I frequently lie (sometimes just to stay in practice), so here it is: Tom is not only a father of three but also the second in command of the whole 2nd Mass. Dr. Chewtoy is the only doctor for 300 people. No medicine, no technology, and half of them involved in frequent battles. There just isn’t time until the 2nd Mass settles down somewhere, at which point the show is over and it all becomes moot anyway.

Throwing two characters together and calling it romance is not character development. It’s clichéd, lazy, and very much beneath the fine writing we’ve seen so far from the FS writers. An easy way out of the whole mess is to have something awful almost happen to Matt (Ben: “I thought you were watching him!” Hal: “I thought YOU were watching him!” Tom: “Watching who?”) Let Tom finally realize that dividing his time so stupidly has consequences and he breaks it off with Dr. Plaything.

There. Now I feel better and should probably get some actual work done.

 BethTX is a Contributing Author here on the Falling Skies Blog, just as sarcastic as me (not an easy accomplishment), and knows how to break up the routine around here.

Keep the Resistance Strong!


~ by The Falling Skies Blog on August 13, 2012.

9 Responses to “Romance: Best Left to Soap Operas?”

  1. Amen.

    In regards to bad timing, the most realistic couple was Lourdes and Jamil. At least, neither of them had just buried his/her ex a few months earlier.

  2. Yeah, I left them out of consideration because they’re background characters with no real impact on anything. We learned they were together, he died, the end. Too bad. He was hot.

    • They didn’t bother me as a couple, except that it was a outta-nowhere-oh-by-the-way-Uncle-Scott-is-dead introduction for Jamil. Lourdes was/is/is again kinda optimistic, so it seemed realistic to me that she wouldn’t turn down a date… Unlike Hal and Tom, who just lost people close to them. (Hal lost his mother AND girlfriend, if you think about it for a moment, that’s not the mindset to go womanizing.)
      It’s also a damn good point you make about Matt. Hal and Ben are old enough to be somewhat independant, but at Matt’s age, he’s way more attached to his mother. If anything, he should be afraid that the new woman takes his dad away too (spending more time with her than Matt). Hal shouldn’t be talking about “dad, isn’t it a bit soon to start dating after mom’s death” because he’s the worse offender (twice the losses, twice the chicks). But Ben could and should have called them both out on it, if only as an afterthought.

  3. It seems like a pretty glaring oversight on the part of the writers. None of the boys are challenging Dad’s replacement of their mother? They’re in such close quarters that they have to realize that it’s progressed past the giggling stage. The whole damn camp has to be aware of…extracurricular activities, as it were.

    • In a Comic-Con interview, Connor Jessup told Moon Bloodgood “we will never accept you as our mother. We will put gum in your hair.”

      > Date: Mon, 13 Aug 2012 19:27:29 +0000 > To: >

      • I’m with my twin sister – I wanna see that happen!

      • Now I have an image of Hal, Ben, and Matt joining forces to get Anne the hell out of their lives: gum in her hair, snakes in her underwear drawer, paint in her shampoo bottles. This begs to be written. If I didn’t hate fanfiction so much I would tackle it myself.

      • We’ll always have my spaghetti western AU. I can also see Hal using his womanizing skills in a mischievous way; applying baby oil to his perfect six pack in plain sight of Anne, who slowly starts to get distracted from Tom and struggles to not fall for like Hal like every other female in sight. Accompanied by later emotional breakdowns, Hal crying in his tent, saying things like “I feel so cheap and used!” and Ben yelling back “Man up, bro, we all know it is for a greater good!” and Matt handing him a new bottle of baby oil, saying “If I was old enough, I’d do the job, but alas, I’m not, so suck it up.”

  4. Oh my GAWWWD! How funny is that??? I would seriously paint every writers’ house just to see that happen.

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