What’s Going on With the Romance in Chicago Fire Season 11?

Taylor Kinney as Kelly Severide, Miranda Rae Mayo as Stella Kidd as Stellaride in Chicago Fire Season 11
(Photo by: Adrian S Burrows Sr/NBC)

Chicago Fire Season 11, Episode 12 and Chicago P.D. Spoilers Ahead

Note from Marvelous Geeks’ Team: With the ongoing WGA strike, it’s imperative that we state we stand in solidarity with all writers asking for better wages and the respect they deserve in this industry. No story comes to fruition without the idea born and nurtured inside a writer’s head. Writers are the beating hearts of everything we love — we stand with and for them. 

Chicago Fire has been the heart of the operation for as long as it’s been on the air with all other shows in the One Chicago universe. It’s the series that centers around a legitimate found family, making even the darkest moments on the show worthwhile when it matters. Yet, that hasn’t been the case for most of Season 11, which is profoundly concerning when we examine the other shows in the universe. 

Taylor Kinney has every right to announce a leave of absence in the same way that Jesse Lee Soffer could leave Chicago P.D. Yetthe problem here lies in the detail that One Chicago doesn’t know how to write off characters without destroying years of development. It begs the question of why female characters aren’t allowed to be happy, looking at Violet’s horrific grief in losing Evan Hawkins and everything that happens with Upstead. (Let’s not even mention Cindy’s trauma or everything that happened with Erin Lindsay and Kim Burgess.) Now, the same fate is dangled in front of viewers as Kelly Severide lies to Stella Kidd, undermining all the development he’s gone through never to do such a thing. 

While we don’t yet know exactly where Severide is or why he’s hiding from Stella, the recycled plot from last season doesn’t work to tell a compelling story. It worked when it honored Stella’s burnout, but two people in the same relationship won’t go through the exact same thing and handle it the same way. It feels like a cheap ploy to execute drama when there are thousands of ways to address such issues in the face of an actor’s absence. We don’t have to see Upstead or Stellaride on screen together to believe that they’re happy. We don’t have to have them in the same room to know that they’re happily in a relationship in the same way that it occurs with characters like Hermann, Mouch, and Cruz. Just because they’re in the same firehouse, it doesn’t mean characterizations must be shattered to justify changes.

At the end of the day, Severide could’ve been in the same city, doing something else without us seeing him, but hearing that he’s alright. Jay Halstead could’ve chosen a different career path, doing something else off-screen while the couple’s journey remains steadfast. No one in the real world ghosts their wife like this!?! Especially not someone who was once respectable!? Such fabrications hurt not only the show but also the characters and their development, as well as the fans who’ve invested years in caring deeply for something. Chicago Fire Season 11 feels like a dark path with misery lurking in every corner when once upon a time, it was the procedural to trust potentially. We understood the Brettsey breakup because of the circumstances, and then later, every ship consistently came crashing down with recycled, cheap drama. There’s enough conflict in the world to put fictional characters through such threats. 

Fans will happily watch a relationship continue to grow and unfold. There’s a reason Archive of Our Own has as many hits a day as it does because people always want more of the relationships. Romance novels are among the highest-selling genre in the literary world. Time and time again, fans have vocalized how diligently they can care for a fictional relationship, and it’s profoundly frustrating that TV shows continue to undermine this. Bridgerton isn’t Netflix’s most-viewed show because of its costumes; it’s because of the romance and the happy endings. And suppose Chicago Fire Season 11 chooses to break apart another relationship while destroying years of characterization. In that case, it will be tough for fans to come back with nothing to trust in the future.

What are your thoughts on the romance in Chicago Fire Season 11? Is there hope still?


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