So, I have this rule about not falling for pairings where one party has done something reprehensible to the other. The thing is, once I dismiss all the rapemances (like Todd and Marty’s horrorshow on OLTL), my standards start to get a little more arbitrary, a little more case-by-case.
For instance, I would never, on pain of death, have rooted for GH’s Carly to get together with Ric. He locked her in a panic room and wanted to cut her child from her womb and leave her for dead. Total deal breaker! But Lorenzo, who also kidnapped Carly? I loved! I enjoyed the way the Stockholm Syndrome played out. The scene in the clinic where he asked her to shave him was laced with tension, and I loved watching him fall for her and fall hard.
And I’m okay with characters who hurt each other equally. Sworn enemies like DAYS’ Nicole and EJ, or BTVS’ Buffy and Spike constantly one-upping each other is totally up my alley. I love the banter, the snark and the fact that they can match each other. That’s why the season six episode of BTVS, “Seeing Red,” made me so unbelievably angry. The writing had Buffy get hurt in some ridiculously heavy-handed way so that she would suddenly be vulnerable, and Spike would gain the physical upper hand. It was gratuitous, painting him as the would-be rapist when he’d never attempted something like that with her before. And just a few episodes before that, Buffy beat the ever-loving tar out of him; it wasn’t couched as abusing one’s partner, but as an example of Buffy’s continued downward spiral. I found the whole arc distasteful once they started playing with the power balance, you know? But Spike died for her, which was the ultimate in redemptive gestures. I just wish that Angel hadn’t bankrupted it by resurrecting the character. He should have stayed dead.
I am all about death being a logical end to an antagonist love story. See Guy of Gisborne, Marian and Robin from BBC’s Robin Hood. They were the most effed up non-threesome ever, with all three characters acting like various shades of asshole. And though Lucy Griffiths, Richard Armitage and Jonas Armstrong were great, by the end of the show I was glad for the “rocks fall, everybody dies” resolution.
I think what it comes down to is that I don’t like one party being the victim. The playing field has to be level. And if it’s not level, there has to be a really good reason for it.