• Didier Ernotte

Questioning the Couple

The Wire -- The first blow to the traditional couple.

The internationally acclaimed and considered the best series ever, The Wire, shot the first bullet to the old pattern of the never-ending love story. Yeah, you know the one-- that damned couple with a manly man followed throughout the story by a gorgeous woman who challenges him just enough to have a pretext to show how great he is (Castle, Lie To Me, The Mentalist). Very satisfactory for the male public… a pain in the neck for us storytellers! Of course the man and the woman must always be on the verge of falling in love but ... unless we want to be fired from the show, we the screenwriters must stop them before the first kiss! Very satisfactory for the female public... a boredom for us. The Wire offered us a great couple: Jimmy McNulty, a natural police officer but a failure as a man, and the unforgettable Bunk Moreland, a black badass who is always well dressed. Two guys who are just friends for life, but still a couple.

Broadchurch -- The never-ending hate.

In this intense and brilliantly written series, the screenwriters bet on the opposite paradigm-- the never-ending hate. Hardy and Miller couldn’t be more different. Miller really thinks Hardy is an asshole and to be honest, she’s not far from the reality. Hardy is not a hero, nor even the perfect police officer. Far from that as sometimes he really misses what is important. Miller is not the strong woman trope at all. She’s a woman, end of story: a real woman: warm, humble, with womanly courage. Throughout the episodes, though there is not a single kiss, not even a friendship, the screenwriters have succeeded in establishing respect between the two characters, avoiding the classic cliché. Hat’s off to them.

River -- The love story reinvented.

River is a man unable to love or even socialize. He speaks to dead people. He sees them. He’s obsessed by them. He lost his partner, Jackie, a female cop murdered by an unknown killer right in front of River. The ghost of Jackie follows River during the whole investigation. No love between them. On the contrary, River and Jackie are like old balls and chains constantly arguing with or mocking each other. There are times they even become opponents. However, at the end, when River is successful in reconstructing the last hour of Jackie, he discovers the truth about the murderer…and himself.

At that point, we understand that the whole story was a love story: a love story between a man unable to express his feelings to his partner and also a love story between a mother and her son. Truly amazing. I don’t cry easily, but to be honest, the last episode was simply one of the best works of fiction I’ve watched in my whole life. The Wire included. Nothing less than perfection.

The Fall -- Not a love story, a fight this time.

The last and lethal blow to our traditional couple: nothing less than the cop and the serial killer! A deadly and intense bullfight which lasts 11 episodes. Eventually, both characters appear so closed, so similar, lonely and unhappy. A masterpiece in terms of characterization. We know from the beginning who the serial killer is. The writer doesn’t want to make a traditional cop show. The real mystery is not a whodunit but a “who are they?” Neither of them is very sympathetic, which is against the rules. And yet, they’re so intriguing, so complex. Fantastic: we surprise ourselves watching a tv show where the main characters are not pleasant at all. At the end, the sexual tension between the two opponents reaches its climax as does their hatred. Wow... Even if we’ve to admit that the show is not perfect, the writer has succeed in winning his very risky bet.


Great stories are about a journey where we discover ourselves-- where we learn about the complexity of the human being. Great stories have nothing to do with cliché!!!! Forget the never-ending love story!

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