Top 4 Worst Boyfriends in Teen TV History

I love teen TV. It’s fair to say that I am something of a fanatic. I’m a fangirl. I ship. I read fan fiction and scroll through Tumblrs dedicated to my favourite couples.

But.

Teen TV has a dark side.

Though it has given us some of the most epic romances of modern times, it’s also thrown up some serious duds.

Of course everybody hates a villain, but there are few characters so particularly infuriating as a bad teen TV boyfriend. Suddenly the heroine whom we have come to love like our own bestie through the previous seasons is wasting her time with a guy we as the viewer can see clearly is not the one. We have to watch endless romantic scenes with none of the emotional payoff because this guy is clearly the worst, and the writers can’t trick us into thinking otherwise just by playing it out to an awesome soundtrack.

And it makes us mad.

With that in mind, it’s time to name and shame the worst boyfriends in teen TV history.

Riley Finn – Buffy the Vampire Slayer

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No, she does not. 

One of the few guarantees I have found in life is that, during any conversation about Buffy the universal reaction when Riley Finn comes up is: UGH. That fucking guy.

Riley is notoriously the most hated of Buffy’s boyfriends. Needy, insecure and controlling, despite endless examples he was unable to grasp that his girlfriend was The Slayer, placed on earth to protect us all from demons, a fact which meant sometimes date night was going to come low on her list of priorities.

He also never got the memo that super strength generally means your gf doesn’t need you throwing your weight around to protect her. The girl staked Dracula then went out for ice cream (probably). She does not need your protection.

Duncan Kane – Veronica Mars

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FYI, if cuddling is the best part he didn’t do it right

While I am able to admit that despite high levels of sexiness, Logan Echolls was perhaps not the best boyfriend ever, my hatred for Duncan Kane knows no bounds.

Maybe he didn’t turn out to be a rapist. Or a murderer. Or incestuous. But he was still the worst.

Whiny Duncan with his rage induced blackouts was clearly never good enough for astute, badass, quip Queen Veronica.

I was so happy when he finally ran away with his love child and was never seen again.

Logan Huntzberger – Gilmore Girls

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Er… no. 

For all her sweetness, Rory Gilmore is a very scrappy individual whose life took a decidedly wrong turn when she let seedy rich boy Logan Huntzberger into her life (both times). Whip smart and a hard worker, this entitled daddy’s boy clearly was not the man for her.

Also, if he had stopped to think about it for even a second, he would have known she didn’t want to get married at the end of season 6. She wanted to go work for Obama.

Throughout his time on the show, he only ever thought about himself. As a kid who’d always had everything given to him, it never occurred to him not to.

And Jess was so much hotter.

Chuck Bass – Gossip Girl

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LEAVE. RUN. WHILE YOU STILL CAN.

I’ll end on a controversial note. I was into Chuck for approximately two-and-a-half seasons (the 3 words, 8 letters say it and I’m yours phase), then he tried to trade his unwilling girlfriend for sex in return for hotel ownership.

I never forgave him for it. Especially because that girlfriend was Blair Waldorf, my favourite TV mean girl of all time.

For four seasons, I waited for Blair to realise that she did not need this asshat in her life. As one of the most badass bitches of teen television, she should have realised that she didn’t need Chuck to feel complete.

Then, there was a glimmer of hope. After the whole Prince Louis debacle (and let’s face it, the less said about that the better) she and Dan almost had a healthy relationship. She started to think about what she wanted for herself as an individual, rather than a chess piece in one of Chuck’s games.

Then, for whatever reason, instead she decided to marry Chuck so he didn’t go to jail for murdering his evil father (because spouses can’t testify against spouses).

Goddamnit. Chuck got a happy ending he did not deserve, and I’m still upset about it. I can only hope that at some unknown point in the future she’ll take him for all he’s worth in the divorce.

 

Who are your worst TV boyfriends in teen TV history? Name and shame in the comments!

Feminist TV Shows

Feminist TV is hard to come by. Even in shows featuring the coveted ‘strong female’, she is often the only woman in sight, as if multiple women would somehow disorient us. There is a particular sort of joy that comes in the discovery of truly feminist television. We may not be constantly judging scenes on whether they pass or fail the Bechdel test, but there is a certain comfort when they do. It comes from not having that annoying voice in the back of your head pointing out that the only women in the room are two dimensional and passive. That voice is rarely absent. When it is… it makes for some joyful viewing. I often watch these shows with a silly grin plastered across my face.

Orphan Black

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This show smashes the very concept of ‘limited roles’ to pieces. It’s about clones. All of the main characters are played by the same woman, the insanely talented Tatiana Maslany. The other thing? They are all complex and weird and unpredictable. Each takes the stereotype on which she is loosely based and twists it into something unrecognisable. The sisterhood that develops as the show does, the love and tensions between these women, are thrilling to watch.

Oh yeah, and they’re trying to bring down the evil corporation that’s trying to have them killed. What’s not to like?

All of the straight men in Orphan Black are under written idiots. This is a deliberate choice. It is a device to point out the limited roles we give women in television. It is also there as a means of showing how men – even when they are idiots, still work within the privileges afforded them by a patriarchal system. If you’re interested, there is a really great article about this aspect of the show over at Slate. The author refers to men as ‘like so many walking erections.’ It’s a must read. Trust me.

Scott and Bailey

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This is a cop show from the UK. Generally speaking, I’m not really into crime shows. Usually because – in the UK, anyway – they are about men, and at a certain point I just got bored of that, you know? Then my brother introduced me to Scott and Bailey. I refused to watch it for ages, because I assumed I wouldn’t like it for aforementioned boredom reasons. How wrong I was.

All of the positions of power in this show are occupied by women. Scott and Bailey are police officers, their DCI is a woman (played to absolutely freaking perfection by Amelia Bullmore, who is also a writer for the show), as are all other heads of departments they encounter. In addition to the women in this show being epic badasses (which they all are), they deal with what are actually some pretty real issues – whether or not to have kids, how to balance work and motherhood (we don’t like to talk about it, but sometimes you can’t), how to deal with the creepy guy who you slept with and who is now kind of stalking you.

Every episode of this is gold. I don’t know that it’s watched much outside of the UK, but it totally should be.

Jessica Jones

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I love Jessica Jones deeply but it has ruined Marvel for me forever. Now I know that they can do better, the utter shit show that is female characterisation in the Avengers movies has become totally unacceptable to me (before I was doing that thing where I pretended I didn’t mind because I loved Robert Downey Jr. so much. I totally mind.).

The entire first season of Jessica Jones is a repeated stabbing of the patriarchy. It covers topics such as abusive relationships, sexual violence and PTSD. It studies women’s agency, and how it can be taken from them. It places a woman as a central character, something Marvel has never done before. Jessica doesn’t spend the entire show being sexualised (cough – Black Widow – cough) – in fact she spends it wearing a pair of jeans so comfortable looking I have been searching for a similar pair ever since. She is an active character coming to terms with the actions of her abuser even as she seeks to bring him down.

It is excellent.

But I will warn you, it will totally un-do all that work you did trying to convince yourself that Black Widow was kind-of-maybe-sort-of okay.

Scandal

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Olivia Pope. Need I say more?

Yes. You might notice something about this list so far. All of the characters I have talked about are white ladies. While there is a growing feminist movement in TV today it is by no means intersectional, a fact that is disappointingly predictable.

But it’s not all bad. Shondaland, exists, after all.

Olivia Pope is a fixer. She sees your problem – a dead body, an unfortunate affair, some illegal action – and she can make it go away. By any means necessary. Growing up, Olivia Pope’s father drilled into her that as a black woman she would have to work twice as hard for half the power. She took that to heart, and if there is one thing Olivia Pope can do it is this: she can work you under the table. She wants power and she is willing to sacrifice anything to get it.

A guy kidnapped her one time. It was super traumatic. He’s dead now. Olivia smashed his head in with a chair.

Olivia Pope breeds presidents. And then she runs the White House without them even noticing.

Olivia Pope is unbeatable.

 

Single Mothers on TV

During this past season of The Mindy Project, Mindy had a baby. When baby Leo arrived, it became clear that the opposing lifestyles that made Mindy and Danny’s will-they-won’t-they so cute were, in the context of raising a child, a total disaster. It’s a testament to the writing of TMP that after three seasons of wanting it, I was left with the decisive feeling that Mindy and Danny should not be together by the end of the first half of its current fourth outing.

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Since returning from its mid-season break, TMP has hit the reset button. We have returned to the date-of-the-week format that Mindy popularised in season one. What’s changed however, is Leo. At the beginning of the show, a lot of Mindy’s determination to find her perfect guy came from the desire for marriage and family. She thought she found that with Danny, got engaged, had Leo, and then everything fell apart. Now she wants to reverse engineer the thing, while caring for Leo and starting her own business.

I actually really like the way that The Mindy Project has dealt with Mindy’s unexpected single parenthood. Is it realistic? Not especially. But it is a representation that we haven’t seen before: it’s mostly a positive one. Yes, Mindy feels guilt and sadness that her relationship with Danny didn’t work out, and worries what the implications for Leo could be, but she isn’t feeling shame. We aren’t presented with the fact of her single parenthood as a reason behind her mistakes and disasters. Nobody is judging her. The people in her life are mostly either supportive or pretty indifferent about the situation.

Even the attempted shaming of Mindy doesn’t really land. In Danny’s absence, the conservative viewpoint is supplied by Mindy’s latest sexy-but-disapproving love interest, Jody. His strict views are only ever used as a punchline – he calls himself an old fashioned gentleman while sleeping with 18-year-old college students and sometimes, his brother’s wife.

In Bernardo and Anita, a high point in the season and the series as a whole, during a dinner party when Mindy makes a joke about being an Indian unmarried mother, Jody responds: ‘to be fair I think parents of any race find that shameful’. Silence falls. Nobody at the dinner party is into Jody’s opinion. It’s deliberately awkward and said with the intention of making Jody, not Mindy, look bad. To prove the point, the moment is contrasted with another at the end of the episode: Mindy’s parents make a rare appearance to tell her how proud of her they are. Any remaining barbs from Jody’s remarks are neutralised.

This stands in pretty stark contrast to the single parents of TV history. I loved the show and I am awaiting the Netflix revival as eagerly as anybody, but throughout the seasons of Gilmore Girls, Lorelai Gilmore was consistently shamed for the circumstances of Rory’s birth. She had Rory as a teenager, and despite considerable pressure from her parents, made the decision not to marry the guy who knocked her up. That her parents disagreed with this decision defined their relationship throughout the show. No matter what she did – work her way up to a manager in the hotel she used to clean, get her business diploma, eventually buy and run her own inn, not to mention raising a successful, ivy-league-college attending kid – she was still a failure in their eyes.

As much as I loved the show, this drove me nuts.

This is the pervading representation of single parents of TV. They are the perpetual screw ups. They had a kid and then they broke up with its dad, and this apparent ‘failure’ is used as a reason and a magnifier for all the subsequent mistakes they make. Just ask Emily Gilmore.

I’m not saying that all of the drama is unjustified. Single parenthood is hard, and not most people’s first choice, but what frustrates me is its inextricable connection to the idea of failure – if you’re a woman, anyway.

The trend is apparent in Lauren Graham’s other seminal role as a single parent, Sarah Braverman in Parenthood. Sarah Braverman, at the start of the series, is undoubtedly the black sheep of the Braverman brood. After her relationship with her drug addict partner ends, she and her children return home to live with the grandparents. At the beginning of Parenthood, Sarah is characterised by her failings. She can’t afford a home, and can’t get a job, her children are out of control. She has none of the pieces of A Successful Life that the other Braverman siblings do and serves as a foil to her sister, Julia the successful married lawyer. Once again, single parent equals screw up.

I think a lot of it has to do with ingrained notions of what women ‘should do’. Despite all evidence to the contrary, the nuclear family – husband, wife and 2.5 children – is what we are taught to strive for. So when we’re presented with a woman who couldn’t keep that ideal together, who perhaps chose to leave it or never even wanted it in the first place, we assume there must be something wrong with her. We are stuck in a never-ending discussion of whether, as women, it’s better to stay in miserable relationships ‘for the kids’ or make the ‘selfish’ decision to leave, as the miserable relationship somehow doesn’t touch the lives of the children such parents are supposedly serving. The dialogue of shame is constantly fed.

Seeing The Mindy Project shrug all this off has been so refreshing. In her interactions with her friends and colleagues there is no sense of doom about Mindy’s life as a single parent or Leo’s future. It’s simply the next incarnation of her life. Yeah, it can be difficult, but whatever comes up, she and Leo figure out and thrive. It is my hope that in future television we see single mothers depicted as strong, resourceful and caring women without the need to shame them.

Everything I loved about season 5 of Girls

As with most shows, every time a new season of Girls airs, there is a parade of people waiting in the wings to dissect all the reasons why the preceding seasons were better.

I disagree with all such people.

I don’t know if it has to do with the show itself or my own circumstances, but so far I have found myself enjoying every new season a little bit more.

Writing this was hard. When I actually thought about it ‘everything I loved’ about this season, it turned out to be pretty much… everything.

Shoshanna in Japan

shosh in japan

I was so happy when Shoshanna ditched her boring boyfriend at the end of season 4 and moved to Japan for her job. Her whole experience there, from her rise to her redundancy totally spoke to the experience of growing up.

There are peaks and troughs, people.

What you see in Shoshanna’s experience – a theme they build on every season, I think – is the temporariness of any stage of life. Whether it’s her virginity, her employability or even her sense of home, all things in Shoshanna’s life – and all our lives – are temporary. This sounds like it should be totally depressing – and at times it is. When she yelled “WHY AM I HERE?!” at no one in particular on her return to New York my heart totally broke for her. But it’s also… kind of not. Sometimes life consists of digging oneself out of a series of holes, and as Shoshanna’s experience indicates, that’s actually okay.

Elijah getting his heart broken

If watching this didn’t wreck you, then you have no soul.

Adam and Jessa

It’s been obvious for a while now that these two were eventually going to fuck.

I wanted it and dreaded it in equal measure because we all knew how it was going to end… with Adam ripping his way, psychopath-style through a bathroom door.

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Even before they got together, Jessa said that they would destroy each other was their inevitable conclusion. And honestly, watching the fast decline of their relationship felt a little… performative, as if to an extent they were just acting according to their preconceived ideas of themselves as ‘destructive people’. They had already decided that their relationship would end in ruin, and played it out to an unnecessarily dramatic extent.

They might be perfect for each other. Or they might kill each other. I’m not sure.

In Adam and Jessa we see two people with an inability to change. Which makes way for…

Hannah not going crazy

While Jessa and Adam simply act according to the ways they’ve always acted in the past, Hannah, on finding out that her best friend and her most significant ex are now in love, contemplates going the opposite way.

Hannah’s analysis of how she could have reacted, and how she knew everyone expected her to react – with some serious crazy – was quite unexpected from a character who usually barrels through the world so blindly.

In a move in total opposition to Adam and Jessa and their inevitable conclusion, Hannah decides to wish them well and get on with her own life, for the first time without a significant other as a placeholder for something bigger. There is just her alone, facing the future.

Watching Hannah choose the not crazy option felt a little like growing up.

I have to end this with my favourite episode of the season (of the entire 5 seasons, actually), The Panic in Central Park.

marnie and charlie

This episode was perfection. It didn’t even feel like an episode. It felt like a movie.

The writing of Marnie, and Alison Williams’ portrayal of her has always been my favourite. Don’t get me wrong – I seriously dislike Marnie the vast majority of the time, but in a way that means I also enjoy her immensely. Her self-conscious posturing is so real and vulnerable that it makes me physically cringe. She’s just as lost as Hannah but desperately pretending not to be by throwing herself into relationship after ill-fitting relationship. She only got married to give herself a false sense of direction.

I loved how this episode dealt with the concept of identity. In the sudden reappearance of Charlie, we see a guy changed from the sweet puppy whose heart Marnie used to treat like a football (until he turned around and repaid the favour), to a drug dealer who hangs out on street corners with guys who yell at women as they pass by.

Marnie falls headfirst into his world for a night. It was intriguing to watch two people come together after so many years and renegotiate their relationship under the shadow of their past and present identities: Marnie, married and Charlie basically a mystery.

Knowing so little about each other, it’s easy for them to pretend, at least for a little while, that they might be the solution to each other’s problems.

Until morning, that is.

It seemed strangely inevitable when Marnie found the used needles in Charlie’s apartment and realised that he wasn’t only dealing drugs, but using them as well. When she realised that much of her magical night was just Charlie under the influence, any illusions she’d created about running away with him were instantly destroyed. But her determination to leave her marriage remained. Her determination to define herself remained – however temporarily – in terms of herself, rather than her relationship.

It’s beautiful, guys. It’s worth watching all the previous seasons just so you can properly appreciate for perfection of it.

Top 10 TV Women

I watch a lot of TV. We all know this about me.

If a show doesn’t have at least one (though of course ideally, many) awesome female protagonists, however, I’m just not interested.

So, for anyone looking for something new to watch, or suffering from a lack of amazing women in their TV staples (a common problem), I present you with a list of a few of my favourite ladies. A fantasy bachlorette party, if you will.

Jessica Jones

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She lives to kick rapist butt and show Marvel everything they’ve been doing wrong. I really can’t stress enough how much you should watch this show. Especially if superheroes ‘aren’t your thing’.

Buffy

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Balancing being a teenage girl with being The Slayer is hard.

Leslie Knope – Parks and Rec. 

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She’s a feminist with a to do list.

Olivia Pope – Scandal

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Scandal is my new love. It’s pretty much entirely because of Olivia. Olivia Pope solves problems. She always knows what to do, how to think on her feet. When she wants to make people listen to her, that’s exactly what they do.

My only issue with Olivia is her choice of men. I hate Fitz. I have tried not to but every time he makes this face I want to tear my own eyeballs out.

Fitz-Scandal

Olivia Dunham – Fringe

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She’s the only secret agent I can imagine building a pillow fort with. After we had dealt with all the alternate universe monsters, obviously.

Peggy Carter

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Killing it with her 1950s fashion choices? Yep. Fighting misogyny? Yep. Generally an awesome lady?  Absolutely.

Gina Linetti – Brooklyn Nine Nine

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Someone once told me that I have exactly the right amount apathy (which, lol. But anyway…). That’s because they hadn’t met this woman. She does apathy like no one else. It comes from knowing in your heart and nobody in your life is as great as you.

She’s totally right by the way.

Cookie – Empire

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You want this lady on your side.

(We haven’t had season 2 in the UK yet. No spoilers, please.)

Helena – Orphan Black

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Anyone who has been reading this blog for a while will know, I have kind of a soft spot for a crazy murderer (fictionally speaking). Helena is the most loyal, sweetest crazy murderer of the lot.

Caroline Forbes – The Vampire Diaries

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Despite some unfortunate storyline choices*, Caroline remains the heart of TVD as far as I am concerned. The whole place would fall apart without her. Caroline is a woman who knows what she wants, and will not hesitate in yelling until you give it to her.

*I really can’t stress enough how much I hate Caroline’s pregnancy. I get that Candice had a baby, but Jake and Amy aren’t having a baby on Brooklyn Nine Nine just because Melissa Fumero is pregnant. Caroline could have carried around a weirdly gigantic bag, or stood behind strategically placed objects the whole season! We wouldn’t have minded!