The sexual tension that wasn’t

It’s the classic set-up. Brian’s wife, Esther, is out of town. He meets a woman named Alice. They connect intellectually, in a way he and Esther don’t. Brian and Alice are thrown together on a case. Brian’s friend Gerry picks up on all this and comments, “Esther’s just left town, and he’s at it already!” And Alice brings him soup one day at work because he mentioned Esther was out of town and he can’t cook – we all know what that means, right? She even shares, in answer to a random question from Brian, that she didn’t realize she wanted a family until it was too late to have one, which is too bad.

Clearly, we’re up for some sexual tension, right? At the very least, there will be some longing glances, or awkward brushings of hands followed by awkward glances, or something. Or maybe at the very end, she’ll watch him leave, and we’ll realize she had a crush on him, poor dear, and he never noticed her. I mean, there’s got to be something sexual, right? There’s a law about this, I’m fairly sure.

Except not.

All these things occur in an episode of “New Tricks“, but at no point is there the slightest hint that these two characters are romantically compatible, let alone interested in one another. At the end, with the case solved as much as it will ever be, Alice brings Brian a rhododendron for Esther because he mentioned she likes them. They say their goodbyes and off Brian goes, and Alice turns back to her plants, and that’s that.

I could be wrong, but I swear the writers are deliberately setting up an old cliche for the purpose of not following through on it, thus refreshing the brains of viewers long accustomed to the more predictable outcome.

Yes, Virginia, grown-ups do sometimes meet sexually compatible and attractive people with whom they connect in a completely non-sexual way. TV has been lying to you.

Comments

  1. The Other Patrick says

    Awesome! Even though I can’t believe it – that sounds *so much* like the typical sexual tension trope…

  2. amymccabe says

    My father once told me men and women could never be just friends, that sex always gets in the way. And while I think he had a point with the specific male friend that he was trying to make a point about (he did want something romantic, I did not) I pretty much thought it was bull even then.

  3. SunlessNick says

    I could be wrong, but I swear the writers are deliberately setting up an old cliche for the purpose of not following through on it, thus refreshing the brains of viewers long accustomed to the more predictable outcome.

    That would be so cool. I mean it’s so cool anyway, but that would be a cool bonus.

  4. Raven says

    That is really cool. I love New Tricks for that; the friendship between Sandra and her colleagues is really well drawn, with no sexual tension under any of it.

  5. SunlessNick says

    It avoids another cliche as well, come to think of it; no jealousy from Esther: about this Alice (getting back into town early and seeing them together), about Sandra, or any other female colleague. There’s even a point where Brian tries to reassure her on that point, because he’s going undercover with a female officer, and Esther just cracks up.

  6. says

    Wow, a show which actually does *not* keep sexuality ascendant above everything else that’s important in life, too.

    And how sad is it that the romance trope is so pervasive, a single show like this can knock a viewer’s socks off. :-)

    There should be more shows like this.

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