Castle might have ended the fifth season with our favorite couple in rocky waters, but the most surprising thing about this season might just have been how smooth the sailing has been for Castle and Beckett. In season five, Castle pulled the most shocking move a show built on a central will-they-won't-they couple can: it put the main duo in a healthy, happy relationship.
And guess what? The show didn't immediately implode! In fact, after four years of push and pull and a full season of Castle pining, putting the two crime solvers together opened up a vast amount of new narrative ground to explore.
The conventional wisdom, built on the back of the poor, maligned Bruce Willis dramedy Moonlighting, is that when you resolve the sexual tension the audience has no more reason to watch.
"What if the dance is all we have?" Beckett wondered about her relationship with Castle in the season finale
. From a meta perspective, the show had already answered that question after a season proving that putting the two main characters together didn't change the magic alchemy of the show's foundation.
You'd think we wouldn't have to still be talking about the "Moonlighting effect" but the fact is there are still many, many showrunners and TV folks who believe in its power. Bones creator Hart Hanson lived by this mantra, which explains why Bones and Booth didn't finally take the plunge until Emily Deschanel's real-life pregnancy forced their creative hand.
It can be seen in the late, sometimes great but often insane Gossip Girl
, where even after committing to Chuck and Blair the writers spent a whole season
keeping them apart on essentially what was a long mutual dare. (It was called a growing opportunity on the show. I called it spinning wheels until the series finale.)
Even shows that finally take the plunge and put will-they-won't-they couples together often tip the hand that they don't even understand what made the couple compelling in the first place. Look at Robin and Barney from How I Met Your Mother: great in theory, poor in execution.
In the uproar over what happened in the Downton Abbey season finale
, finally breaking apart star-crossed lovers Mary and Matthew for good, I think people might have missed the many interviews creator Julian Fellowes gave saying Dan Stevens' departure was a blessing in disguise. Why? Because he had no idea how to write a version of Matthew and Mary without roadblocks that would be compelling. He said happy couples just didn't make good television.
Yet Castle managed to do just that this year, weaving big storylines (Alexis is kidnapped!) and funny cases of the week (sci-fi convention!) around a happy, mostly functional relationship. After years of waiting desperately for the two to hook up, once they did the show didn't immediately backpedal or throw up stupid roadblocks just for the sake of drama.
This season, Castle managed to prove that the old saying about happy couples being uninteresting doesn't even remotely hold true. Of course, there are plenty of other examples across the dial to back Caskett up. Just look at the married couple at the heart of Friday Night Lights, or Brad and Jane from Happy Endings, or Ben and Leslie from Parks and Recreations.
The dance isn't all TV couples have, and unlike storybook endings, in real life drama doesn't end after the first kiss or after you say "I do". Regardless of what the Castle creative team chooses to do next year with Beckett's looming job offer or Castle's surprise proposal, I think the creative strength and continued fan dedication shows audiences aren't afraid of a happy couple.
Drama for drama's sake is just as boring as the happiest couple on earth. And this season, Caskett has been very happy and Castle has still remained as compelling and fun as always. Take note showrunners, you could learn a thing or two from Castle.
What do you think? Do you agree that happy couples are boring or are you tired of the drawn out will-they-won't-they nonsense? Did you love Castle this season or miss the romantic tension? Share in the comments!