I’ve been watching reruns of what used to be Australia’s flagship drama Blue Heelers, which shows daily at 2pm to cover the local content quota*. And it reminds me of a storyline which annoyed the crap out of me when it first aired, and has not improved with age.
Basically, you have Jo and PJ: lovers and a would-be couple who are cops in a country police station. Jo comes along a few months before PJ’s fiancee Maggie, another copper, is killed in the line of duty. For the next couple of years, they remain friends and colleagues, until they become lovers.
At this point PJ makes it absolutely clear that he’s not interested in being Jo’s boyfriend. He’s not over Maggie, and if he were, he wouldn’t be up for another relationship with another cop, given Maggie died in the line of duty. (Incidentally; he probably should have stuck to his guns; Jo dies in the line of duty a couple of years later.) He’s attracted to her, respects her, likes her as a friend and colleague. But he does not love her. She is more than welcome to share his bed but it goes no further.
Now, this could have been one of those cool adult relationships that television rarely broaches, where two people enjoy each other’s company and sleep together from time to time with no emotional obligation to the other. But what does Jo do? Ignores everything PJ said, falls in love with him and convinces herself that he’s in love with her. She doesn’t understand why he’s not keen on meeting her family, or planning a future together, or kicking out a perfectly good rent-paying housemate so they can have the place to themselves and be one step closer to that dream of marriage.
When he finally calls an end to her little fantasies by telling her he doesn’t love her she sulks, and doesn’t get over it for a season. And the shit really hits the fan when he starts dating someone else.
What the”¦? She knew from the get go he didn’t want a relationship. He was upfront with what he wanted; she took his words and heard something else entirely. It was her own damn fault she got her heart broken, and I had no sympathy for her being miserable. And it was such a stereotypical female thing to do, too; cling to a man, convince yourself he loves you, be blind to incredibly obvious clues that he doesn’t, etc.
Eventually, they get together, probably because enough shippers wrote in to complain. Another few months, and I would have been joining them. Not because I thought she deserved him, but because I was so sick of her moping around, that I would have accepted ANYTHING as an alternative.
Ech. It was so”¦ bloody”¦ stereotyped! It was embarrassing. I’ve known plenty of men who fooled themselves into thinking relationships existed when they didn’t; how come none of them make our TV screens? With a few exceptions (and I think Australian television is fairly good like that; more on that later) apparantly it’s just not acceptable to see men pining after women and convincing themselves that the woman loves them back.
* Australian free-to-air analogue television has to meet quotas of Australian/New Zealand produced television of 55% between 6am and 12pm. Though there’s a clause regarding first-run scripted television, much of it is made up in reality TV, news and current affairs and reruns. Channel Seven meets part of its obligation by airing reruns of BH that are a couple of years old in the “˜dead’ timeslot of 2pm)