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Bad Romance: 5 Toxic Relationships in Romantic Movies, TV Shows

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ScaLove doesn’t always win in the end. But when it does, you feel that victorious, giddy feeling you’re supposed to feel. Sometimes, though, films and shows exemplify love as if it’s the end all and be all at the expense of everything else. In fact, some of these make it a habit for their onscreen couples to constantly hurt each other.

Let the following love stories become a warning to you. Here are five shaky, toxic relationships in movies and TV shows.

Ross & Rachel, Friends

The “will-they, won’t-they” couple of Friends. For ten seasons, Ross Geller and Rachel Greene (played by David Schwimmer and Jennifer Aniston) sent feelings of love, hate, disgust, and giddiness across the airwaves because of their charming dynamic.

They dated, had a break, broke up, got married, divorced, had a kid. Ultimately, they end up together. Despite their saccharinely sweet story, they have a relationship built from a shaky foundation. For the sake of comedy, they can’t communicate with each other well. They never let go of the past. Rachel and Ross bicker and fight all the time. When you consider how problematic they are as individuals, you’ll realize it’s a toxic relationship to begin with. If Friends had a sequel, it would have to be about them going through couples counseling.

Bridget Jones & Mark Darcy, Bridget Jones Diary

Bridget Jones Diary, a modern take of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, was a phenomenal British romcom in the aughts. Renee Zellweger plays the titular character, a spunky yet insecure 32-year-old woman who decided to turn her life around after being incensed by her childhood acquaintance, the uptight Mark Darcy (played by Colin Firth). She also has a crush on her womanizing boss, Daniel Cleaver, played by Hugh Grant. Despite the everywoman quality of Jones, everything about the movie paints her as a desperate single woman wanting to get hitched as if she was going to die if she remains single. Combine that with her dynamics between Darcy and Cleaver, and it ultimately shows how problematic her relationships with these people are. Maybe that problem is why it spawned two sequels.

Gus and Mickey, Love

Netflix series Love, starring Paul Rust and Gillian Jacobs as Gus and Mickey, describe itself as a down-to-earth look at dating. However, Vulture’s Jen Chaney perfectly describes the couple’s dating life. They’re “two untrustworthy people attempting to build a trusting relationship with each other.” Gus has a nice guy complex, while also being manipulative. Mickey, apart from her vices, has a tendency to sabotage herself. They have a relationship that’s doomed from the beginning because of their apparent personalities. It’s a relationship built from poison and vitriol that will leave you exhausted in the end as neither can be a good influence for each other. All they ever do is hurt each other.

Noah and Allie, The Notebook

notebook with laptop

Based from a Nicholas Sparks novel, The Notebook stars Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams as couple Noah and Allie. This tearjerker of a movie has a lot of things that make it problematic. The Notebook normalized the harassment, abuse and manipulation they’ve done to each other as their burning love for each other. Their volatile relationship is dressed up as dedication and love overcoming the odds, bordering on obsession.

Kathleen and Joe, You’ve Got Mail

This Nora Ephron classic, starring Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks as rival store owners Kathleen and Joe, is a bizarre love story that will make you wonder why it ended that way. Using the concept of an AOL chatroom, when online, the two entrepreneurs have a friendly correspondence because they don’t know each other. Outside, they bicker. Joe eventually knew who he’s chatting with, yet he continued to lie. Eventually, Kathleen’s business goes under, and she falls in love with the guy who made it happen. Fancy that.

Movies or TV shows are not exactly the best depiction of love in real life, but these onscreen couples can teach you a thing or two about the fine line between romance and toxic romance.

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