I seldom speak so boldly on behalf of others, but it is with complete confidence that I can say that most of us are in agreement that “the love triangle” is the absolute worst romance trope to exist.
I have an incredibly difficult time believing that someone out there actually gawks at “love triangles” the way I do with “enemies to lovers.” And if I’ve just insulted you by saying this, please, for the love of all things write a counter article to this explaining why on earth you love this trope.
Jean-Ralphio voice: it’s the wooooooooorst. Period. I could just end the article here, but I’ll deliver on some facts before. First, when I say a love triangle, I don’t mean character A can’t choose between characters B and C. (Though there are exceptions here too.) Sure, I imagine that sometimes, even in the real world, such choices need to be made. I don’t mind that, and quite frankly, sometimes I’ve even liked it. I’m talking about character A choosing B and then turning around and choosing C, and then turning around and choosing B again. You get the picture.
If the choice has been made, that’s it—it’s done. No one, and I mean no one goes through such things in real life, and they especially don’t go through it with their best friends while they remain best friends. I’m looking at you, One Tree Hill, Riverdale, Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist, and the list goes on. It’s the cheapest and most unrealistic form of drama, and it should have been left to die in the early 2000s.
For starters, we don’t actually need to torture established couples for the sake of drama because they are anything but boring when they officially get together, but also, there are plenty of realistic means of giving them challenges to overcome. This notion that they’re boring when the pining stops or when they’ve finally chosen each other is just downright ridiculous.
TV doesn’t have to be such a strange escape from real life that it’s no longer tied to reality. We all want to escape, but we’d preferably like to escape to a better world. For example, look no further than Bridgerton or at the majority of most romance novels. Most of them touch on this trope as much as, if even at all.
If we let it die and disappear into the depths of our memories, we’d never even want to revisit in the first place, and I’m sure there’d be very few who’d actually miss it.
11-year-old me was way too invested in One Tree Hill to ever give up, but if 30-year-old me was watching today, I’d drop the show in a heartbeat. I’m far less forgiving of this trope nowadays when I know there are thousands of better routes to take. And comedies have always gotten this element right when it comes to realistic portrayals of romance following a couple’s journey. Or, as an even stronger example for those who believe no one wants to see a healthy marriage, look at the unparalleled success and writing for Madam Secretary.
Also, and most of the time, the blasted “love triangle” trope is interwoven with the cheating trope, which truly, not a single person could defend because there is nothing worse or more unforgivable than cheating. So much of the reason why Hart of Dixie worked for me despite the plethora of drama is because when Zoe finally chose Wade, in the midst of their drama, she never actually went to George. The series didn’t juggle the three of them, and considering the series was on the CW, that’s one of the most surprising parts of it.
A show’s downfall could be using the “love triangle” trope, and so often, it has been. It’s never exciting, and it’s never thrilling. It doesn’t keep people on their toes. All it does is exhaust viewers.
It’s 2021. Let’s do better.