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The Moonlighting Curse Debunked

Updated on April 6, 2013
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Every time I hear an entertainment reporter or a writer on a current show bring up the mythical Moonlighting Curse, I want to smack them in the face. It’s become the free pass writers give themselves to put the blame on the curse for sandbagging their show instead of admitting it was their own writing that’s the real culprit.

Moonlight imploded for a lot of reasons but none of them had to do with Dave and Maddie having sex and getting together as a couple. If the buzz at the time was true, Bruce and Cybil didn’t like each other, and they weren’t professional enough to put that animosity aside to do their job. The show was constantly having trouble filming episodes in a timely manner. It was around that time the show started becoming the Agnes and Viola Hour, as they were featured more prominently. I had no interest in them; they weren’t the reason I watched the show for. I watched for Dave and Maddie. I personally lost interest in the show when Maddie showed up suddenly married to Mark Harmon. So, sorry guys, Dave and Maddie having sex didn’t kill the show. This is what killed the show: Bruce and Cybil not being able to act like professionals and do the job they were being overpaid to do and some very bad decisions the writers made to try and combat the problem.

The Moonlighting Curse is also blamed for Who’s The Boss imploding. Tony and Angela worked when Tony was the housekeeper and Angela was his boss. Tony, however, didn’t want to be a housekeeper for the rest of his life. He had other aspirations. When he achieved them, the relationship no longer worked because the dynamics of the relationship had changed. It was no longer the relationship the viewers loved. That was why the show bombed; not because Angela and Tony got together, romantically. The show should have had the wisdom to understand the time of Tony and Angela had passed and just not gone there. Instead they decided to appease viewers who wanted them to go there with Tony and Angela and lived to regret it.

It’s kind of like Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire. I recently watched The Barkleys Of Broadway, the movie they did ten years after their film partnership broke up and they both moved on to other things. It was okay but it lacked the magic they had together in their RKO movie days. Ginger, in particular, had moved way beyond just being Fred Astaire’s dance partner. She had established herself as a comedic actress in her own right. She even tackled a few dramatic roles. It was like trying to go home again and realizing you’d moved on and you could never go back to what you once had back then. It was a moment in time and that time had passed.

They should have had Tony and Angela get together before Tony had moved well beyond being Angela’s housekeeper. Since they hadn’t, the moment had passed and they should have just had Tony and Angela part as good friends. Unfortunately, viewers wanted Tony and Angela to get together romantically and the show gave in to please them. This is why sometimes a show shouldn’t give in to fans, because it ultimately proves detrimental to the show. Tony and Angela’s time had passed when he was no longer just her housekeeper and the show shouldn’t have gone there just to please fans. Thank goodness Criminal Minds never caved to the fans wanting Hotch and Prentiss to become lovers, because they felt it would ruin the integrity of the show. I was also thrilled Stabler left the show before Law and Order: SVU could go there with him and Benson because shippers were pandering for that pairing to happen.

It’s like viewers just can’t conceive the notion of a man and woman just being friends. In Stabler and Benson’s case they always struck me as just being good friends. To cross the line into something more would just have ruined that great friendship as partners that they had. Unfortunately, when a group of shippers latch on to two characters they want paired together they keep pushing and pushing for it until the show just caves in gives into them. The same is happening over on NCIS. The Tony Ziva stuff is primarily why I quit watching the show.

I quit watching Castle for the same reason. It became obvious where the show was planning to go with Castle and Beckett. Unfortunately, for me, I’d rather they’d have stayed just friends. I’ve never seen any kind of romantic chemistry between either character and they’re so different they don’t make a good couple. Of course, those are fighting words to the shippers who ship Casket. Even the shipper name for them is creepy rather than romantic. A casket is where you put dead bodies.

Back to the topic at hand, if you look to the history of television you’ll see just how bogus this Moonlighting Curse garbage truly is. Look at Rob and Laura Petrie or Lucy and Ricky Ricardo. They were married and they weren’t boring. Viewers were interested in their antics as a married couple. The stories derived from their relationship and the way they behaved in it.

Of course, the writers of today might claim that because the shows began with them married that makes it different. What about Steve and Betty Jo on Petticoat Junction. They got married on the show and their relationship never got boring, either. The same goes for Robbie and Katie on My Three Sons. In both case stories came from the period of adjustment two people have when they’re learning to live with each other without killing each other.

I’ve told a couple of girlfriends that I would never marry someone without living with them, first. I’ve lived with people and worked for them, and what started out as thinking how great these people were, I quickly learned that wasn’t necessarily the case. Everyone usually puts their best foot forward until the newness factor wears off. Once the newness wears off you start acting like your normal self and that’s when you can tell whether you’re truly compatible or not. And that period of adjustment offers plenty of stories for writers to hone, but the writers of today don’t do it. They write couples as being perfectly in sync until they decide to manufacture some problem and break them up and that’s just not realistic. No matter how well you get along, there’s always some kind of period of adjustment where you have to get used to each other’s quirks and we all have them.

I think the sad truth is the writers back then knew how to write married couples and keep them interesting. The writers of today just don’t know how to do it. The writers of the past found material in the adjustment period most couples go through. The financial problems some couples face. You know, every day problems most couples have but the writers made them interesting and entertaining.

There is no Moonlighting Curse. There’s just writers not knowing how to write two characters as a couple and yet still keep them as individuals. It’s just a free pass writers of today use so they don’t have to admit the problem lays with them and not some made-up curse.


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