Another Crappy Love Triangle

The main reason I stopped watching daytime soap opera The Bold and the Beautiful was a love triangle involving Ridge, his wife Brooke and his late-wife-who-wasn’t-actually-dead Taylor. Taylor died, Ridge started seeing Brooke and married her, Taylor reappeared. Who is Ridge married to? Who does he want to be with? We’ll overlook the stupidity of the storyline (and the fact they’ve used it at least once before, probably just reworded the old scripts) and focus on the actions of the three of them.

Ridge is legally married to Taylor, and his marriage to Brooke is nullified by Taylor still being alive. He has to choose either to stay with Taylor, or to divorce her and marry Brooke legally. So he tells both women he has to decide who he wants to be with, and to do that, he’s going to date each of them.

Yep, you read correctly. The man had the audacity to believe two attractive, successful women were going to share him until he decided who he wanted. Mind you, given both Brooke and Taylor agreed to it, maybe it wasn’t so audacious – it was just what he expected, having gotten them to agree to such a thing in the past, it’s understandable he expected it again. Personally, I think the whole scenario was the fantasy of a male writer who thought ‘wouldn’t it be great if I had two good-looking, successful women competing over me?’

If I had been either one of them, I like to think I would have told him ‘if the choice is so hard to make, I’ll make it easier and remove myself from the equation’. Instead, not only do they agree, they keep undermining each other’s one-on-one time with Ridge. Brooke shows up in sheer lingerie, Taylor makes sure Ridge knows how important it is for him to be in their children’s lives, that kind of thing. It was a male fantasy to have two such women pulling out all the stops to prove they are the most ‘worthy’, and it was disgusting.

The really troubling thing was: there was a hell of a lot debate on various forums over it, not over a Ridge’s ‘right’ to have two women dangling while he took his sweet time making his choice, but over who would he choose. There were die-hard Taylor and Brooke fans, and very few who found the whole thing appalling.

That said to me that there was a huge audience out there actively encouraging two women to compete over a man, which is far more concerning thAn some writer’s fantasy of having two women compete over him.

Comments

  1. mrs.g. says

    The thing is, noone on that forum proably would have thought anyting about those women being forced to compete for a man. Because society often actively encourages women to compete over men, and in the nastiest ways possible, too. Think about movies, TV, music. Most “chick flicks” involve a love triangle, and, especially in teen movies, the two girls doing their best to “one-up” and embarrass each other in horrible ways, in order to get the guy. Music has this, too. Compare Rick Springfield’s “Jessie’s Girl” to Avril Lavigne’s “Girlfriend.” (Two examples I could think of off the top of my head.) While in “Jessie’s Girl,” the singer acknowledges that the girl loves Jessie and so he won’t bother telling her he loves her and instead wants to find a girl like her, “Girlfriend” states that this boy needs to be taken away from the girl he’s dating, because he’d clearly be happier with the singer, as the other girl just isn’t nearly as wonderful as her. Least favorite lyrics:

    Better yet make your girlfriend disappear
    I don’t want to hear you say her name ever again

    How, sweet, huh? Forget the fact that the fellow has the right to make his own choice as to who he wants to date. Is this our culture? For the men, it’s “noble” unrequited love, whereas for the women, it’s cutthroat competition, for romance? (I know there are examples of other songs where it’s unrequited love for women and competition for men, but I wouldn’t bet they’re evenly divided. I could be wrong, though.) I hate that. I hate that people believe women fell the need to compete for men. I read/watch a story with a girl-boy-girl love triangle, and go to the forums, and everyone seems to be expecting a knock-down, drag-out fight between the two girls. (Meanwhile, with a boy-girl-boy love triangle, everyone seems to expect one to turn out to be a real jerk, and the good boy will come “save” her.) How many women have you seen compete over a guy? I would tell you, I’ve seen it twice in my life, and those girls were not viewed too favorably by anyone. Which, I suppose is commentary for another day, about how we build these fantasies and expectations through media, but if women dare try it in real life…Anyway. Yes, women, at least fictional women, are encouraged to compete for the man. Forget the fact that the man rarely seems to have prove himself “worthy” for either of these women.

  2. scarlett says

    Mrs. G, you make some good points. The only decently written triangle involving two men and a woman I can think of is an Australian show, Blue Heelers, and I haven’t seen those particular episodes in close to five years so my memory’s a bit faulty :p

    In my personal experience, I’ve seen as many men fight over a woman as women fight over a man… and in every case, all three ended up looking bad. Love triangles almost always end badly, at least for someone. So why are there so many storylines with them ending happily every after?

  3. sbg says

    Yep, you read correctly. The man had the audacity to believe two attractive, successful women were going to share him until he decided who he wanted.

    Hey, you just described The Bachelor. The whole premise of that godawful show is a man culling through twenty-five beautiful women to make it to the final two, who he then has to string along for the sake of television until he chooses one over the other. The show’s like a car wreck I can’t look away from. (Last night, the bachelor did the unthinkable and didn’t choose either of the women – which villifies him in their eyes, but I was honestly relieved that someone at last showed some sort of sense.)

    Anyway, I think the point is that this idea used to be limited to the fantastical world of soaps and perhaps some night time dramas – and though I would not classify The Bachelor as anything like reality, it kind of makes it seem like more and more people accept the man-must-treat-women-like-objects/prizes as how things should or do work.

    Nauseating.

  4. scarlett says

    I never got why people would put themselves through those dating reality TV shows for precicely that reason. Bad enough when you’re an actor being PAID (often quite well) to say the lines, but to do it off your own back ?!?!

  5. MaggieCat says

    I hate that people believe women fell the need to compete for men. I read/watch a story with a girl-boy-girl love triangle, and go to the forums, and everyone seems to be expecting a knock-down, drag-out fight between the two girls.

    This is why I love Pushing Daisies so much. (Well, one of a thousand reasons, but it’s one of the more obvious.) Olive’s been in love with Ned for ages, Chuck swoops in and moves in with Ned in about a day, and while Olive was a bit prickly at first she and Chuck are becoming friends and although Olive still loves Ned she really just wants him to be happy, even if there’s a chance it won’t be with her. The show that looks like a fairy tale has the most mature characters- who could have predicted?

    Ridge is legally married to Taylor, and his marriage to Brooke is nullified by Taylor still being alive. He has to choose either to stay with Taylor, or to divorce her and marry Brooke legally. So he tells both women he has to decide who he wants to be with, and to do that, he’s going to date each of them.

    The sad part is that I can actually see an interesting story in there somewhere, if it was handled well by talented writers- does the new love supersede the old one, or does the weight of shared history and mutual experience win out? After however long she was gone, are the people in the old couple even still compatible? People and personalities aren’t static, and there’s always a chance of drifting apart even if you aren’t contending with an extended separation. It’s perfectly plausible that it could take a bit of time to sort that all out.

    But apparently it was more important to reduce the women to selfish fighting stereotypes than to go for something more complex and original.

  6. scarlett says

    Hmmm, now that DOES sound really interesting. I would have been far more impressed if it had been more about Ridge weighing up those pros and cons and less about Brooke and Taylor trying to sabotage one another. The whole thing came across to me as two women who would rather completely lose face than lose their man when it could have been anout all those things Maggie just mentioned.

  7. Luna_the_cat says

    Heh, in my final year at university I came back from a junior year abroad to find out that my then-fiance had started a passionate affair with someone else. He lied about it at first, but I told him I had already spoken to her (amicably enough; I wasn’t blaming her, as I wasn’t even sure she was aware that he had been engaged to me). Then he declared that I “couldn’t force him to decide between us”. I said I had no intention of doing that; I was deciding, myself. She was welcome to him if she still wanted him, because I didn’t want him any more….

    I have never, ever understood why anyone with even a shred of self-respect might have any other reaction. It hurt, badly, at the time, but I’ve never regretted it. Either someone wants to be with you, or they don’t want to be with you badly enough, so move on to better prospects.

    But then, let’s face it. Daytime soaps have never had any pretense of modelling sane behavior. Have they?

  8. scarlett says

    I’ve kind of been in s similar situation where it turned out the guy I’d been seeing for a few months was still seeing his ex of several years. He tried to argue that it wasn’t fair for me to force him to choose since he loved us in different ways. I never thought of it in terms of ‘choose me’ because I didn’t trust him at that point and wouldn’t have had him if he HAD chosen me. I wonder how much his attitude came from what we see on TV and in the movies, that guys think its perfectly reasonable to have two women fighting over him.

  9. SunlessNick says

    The sad part is that I can actually see an interesting story in there somewhere, if it was handled well by talented writers- does the new love supersede the old one, or does the weight of shared history and mutual experience win out? After however long she was gone, are the people in the old couple even still compatible? People and personalities aren’t static, and there’s always a chance of drifting apart even if you aren’t contending with an extended separation. It’s perfectly plausible that it could take a bit of time to sort that all out. - MaggieCat

    The Dead Zone managed it well for three seasons (by which time the love triangle element could be considered over, as opposed to it getting crap). But it did so with two men and one woman – and I wonder if there’s a propensity for scriptwriters to handle it better that way round.

  10. scarlett says

    Well, I’ve seen just as many bad triangles with two men and a woman – namely, where one of them is an absolute asshole and the other – the OTP, no less – is left to put things back together as they sail off into the sunset. From memory, the Blue Heelers storyline I mentioned was done well, I could buy that two different, fundamentally decent men could offer her two different things, but that’s really one decently done storyline I can think of (which I haven’t seen in several years) against so many BADLY done ones.

  11. MaggieCat says

    Or there’s the version where both of the men are decent in different ways, causing both sides of a divided fandom to hate the woman who’s jerking their preferred choice around while dithering between him and Man B. Which is an accusation I’ve rarely heard thrown at male characters- usually just congratulations for stringing along catching two decent women or bafflement that he can’t choose between the obvious and the froot loop.

    I think it’s just extremely rare that a triangle is handled well not matter how the genders break down. I mean we’ve come up with what, 3 times that it’s been handled well? How many dozens (probably hundreds) of attempts that were train wrecks of various severities could we list if we tried?

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