Tuesday, July 7, 2020
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    It’s Time to Admit That Friends to Lovers is the Best Romantic Trope on Television

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    It is safe to say that we have seen our fair share of romance tropes on television.


    We have seen it all — friends with benefits, love triangles — you name it, it is out there.


    Some of television’s most popular relationships, whether they were endgame or not, are often forbidden love or enemies to lovers dynamics. People seem to find these tropes the most intriguing.


    But they are not. Sure, on the surface, these types of relationships may seem more exciting. Still, the best trope for romance on television is friends to lovers. 


    Various subcategories define this trope — childhood friend romance, just friends, I don’t wanna ruin our friendship, and more. However, they all fall into the same category.


    Friends to lovers is not dull or vanilla; they do not put people to sleep. The best and most iconic relationships on television belong to this trope. They have the most buildup and the best substance, with various examples to prove it. 


    We will start with one of TV’s most beloved sitcom couples — Chandler and Monica, affectionately dubbed as “Mondler.” 


    Granted, they were not the plan from the beginning. Chandler and Monica’s relationship was initially supposed to last only for a few episodes. However, viewers loved them so much that the writers of Friends decided to make them endgame.


    The power of friendship and romance, everyone.


    People want to see realistic reflections of good couples.


    Sure, it is exciting to see dark and dangerous relationships that you do not see every day. However, people often gravitate towards healthy dynamics, especially if they have a solid foundation of friendship.


    Another excellent yet unexpected example is Caroline Forbes and Stefan Salvatore.


    Unexpected is an understatement. The Vampire Diaries originally revolved around the love triangle between Stefan, Elena, and Damon. Caroline liked Stefan briefly at the beginning of the show. However, they put the potential romance to rest and focused on their friendship instead.


    Stefan and Caroline’s friendship naturally blossomed into a beautiful relationship. They were far more exciting than Stefan and Elena or Damon and Elena. Stefan and Caroline had something the love triangle did not — a foundation. 


    They spent years building their friendship and slowly fell in love with each other over time. Viewers unexpectedly hooked onto their relationship without even realizing it.


    Soon, Stefan and Caroline’s relationship was what viewers looked forward to every Thursday night, and rightfully so. How could they not?


    There is a lot of history and tension between them. Anyone can easily see that, whether or not they watched The Vampire Diaries.


    Stefan and Caroline’s relationship was the show’s most rewarding, even if they were not the original plan.


    But sometimes, unplanned relationships end up being the best ones on the show, especially if they have a solid basis of friendship, like with Mondler and Steroline.


    One of TV’s most iconic examples is Barry Allen and Iris West from The Flash. Two people who were best friends since childhood.


    What makes their relationship even more exciting is that Barry pined for Iris secretly for years before he admitted his feelings.


    It was a bit of a bumpy road, but eventually, Iris fell for Barry. Now, they are married with a kid.


    Over time, their relationship did not diminish. Barry and Iris endured their fair share of drama. However, it was so much more powerful because they faced it together.


    Unfortunately, not all best friends get to see the light of canon. Some of them remain platonic and only become romantic in our heads, but it does not make them any less beautiful.


    Riley Matthews and Maya Hart is that example.


    Most viewers of Girl Meets World were either team Lucas and Riley or team Lucas and Maya. There were a handful of people who thought Riley and Maya was the best choice, but not many.


    But if you read in between the lines, Riley and Maya are the most obvious choice. Neither Lucas and Riley nor Lucas and Maya paralleled the iconic friends to lovers couple, Cory and Topanga. Nope, that was the relationship between Riley Matthews and Maya Hart.


    They could not have made it more explicitly clear than they did on Girl Meets World Season 3 Episode 9 “Girl Meets Ski Lodge Part 2.” 


    At the end of the episode, Riley flat out tells her best friend that Cory and Topanga were each other’s extraordinary relationship. Then Riley tells Maya that she is hers. 


    Cory and Topanga were friends. They fell in love, got married, had kids. 


    Girl Meets World could not have been more transparent with this subtext.


    Many people adore Cory and Topanga because of their foundation and how they built their relationship. 


    Then there is Archie Andrews and Betty Cooper from Riverdale. Their relationship has so much potential, but it was never explored romantically beyond a kiss on Riverdale Season 2 and Riverdale Season 4.


    However, with Riverdale implementing a time jump of four years between seasons four and five, who knows where the two best friends will end up?


    They have always been the most exciting dynamic of the core four, considering they have the most history. Jughead and Betty only got together after a few episodes. They were barely together before they said, “I love you.” 


    And while Archie and Veronica have a more intriguing dynamic with far more chemistry, they were also quick to leap to a long term, serious relationship.


    But where is the groundwork for either dynamic? Archie and Veronica fall into the trope of love at first sight. However, instead of developing a strong friendship, they chose to act on it on Riverdale Season 1 Episode 10


    Archie and Betty may be the classic childhood friends, boy-meets-girl-next-door trope, but their relationship is so much more than that. They connect through platonic and romantic love. They truly value their relationship on all different levels, which is not true about the other two dynamics.


    We can only hope that Archie and Betty have the chance to shine in a relationship on Riverdale Season 5.


    Sometimes, rivals to lovers can be an interesting concept, but only if there is a middle ground of friendship in between.


    Like with Jake Peralta and Amy Santiago from Brooklyn Nine-Nine. 


    They began as co-workers, which led to a rivalry of trying to prove who is the better cop.


    But then Jake won their bet and took Amy out on the worst date ever on Brooklyn Nine-Nine Season 1 Episode 13. During this episode, their rivalry blossomed into a friendship, which eventually blossomed into a romance.


    Now they are happily married with a newborn child.


    These six different examples of friends to lovers demonstrate why the trope is not dull, why it is anything but vanilla, and how the relationships are all unique in their own ways while still sharing the value of friendship.


    Six different relationships. Twelve different characters. All vastly different stories. Not one of these relationships is the same unless you want to count that Monica and Chandler and Jake and Amy share the same wedding anniversary.


    But otherwise, the friends to lovers trope is beautiful in every way.


    We may have to wait longer for these relationships to become canon (if they ever do). However, the result is far more rewarding than any potential tension an enemies to lovers relationship may have. Friends to lovers relationships have history, solid ground, and natural chemistry. 


    After all, relationships are hard work. They depend on communication and trust; two characteristics also crucial for maintaining friendships.


    Besides, isn’t your romantic life partner supposed to be your best friend?


    Your turn, Fanatics!


    What do you think of the friends to lovers trope? Do you believe it is one of the best television has to offer? Or do you think there are better tropes out there?


    Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

    Sarah Novack is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.





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