When two people have put in so much time and effort, so much hardship, so much personal growth and mutual respect and understanding, and they still haven’t been able to make their relationship work in an enduring way, should we really want to force them, pressuring our image of what is right and wrong onto them? Is one specific relationship, with one specific person, the holy grail just because we want or need it to be?
Of “flawed premises”
Everyone who has ever joined a tv-show fandom online, knows there is holy grail to be pursued in most all tv-shows. Usually it is about some couple coming and/or staying together. In “Friends”, for instance, we watched 10 seasons of Ross and Rachel being on again/off again, dating other people while they were on a break (!) and having their fandom split over whether they were completely wrong for each other or whether it was absolutely unthinkable for them not to sail into the sunset together by the end of the show. In our favorite show The L Word that holy grail quite clearly is “Tibette”. The couple we let into our hearts from the very first scene of episode 1 of the original series and that has captivated us ever since. Their unwavering love for one another, even when things got tough and tricky, was something we all strive for, and some of us pledge they would even die in order to save that love. No matter how interesting all the other storylines and characters, no matter how profound the love between some of them, we keep coming back to Bette and Tina. We’ve become a part of their lives. Not only do we witness their struggles, their break-ups and make-ups, we go through them, we feel them almost on a cellular level. When they hang by a thread, we beg to do the patchwork. When they hold each other tight, we hold them even tighter. When one of them screws up, we hate a little (or a lot) on the other one, but when they get back in sync we are the most forgiving bunch ever. When they stray, we may (temporarily?) stray with them, if the object of their affection offers us some deliciously hot scenes. Or we want to tear our hair out in utter disbelief of how they could possibly choose that person over their truly destined soulmate?! In sheer desperation we may even turn to the writers, pointing out their sad misunderstanding of these two characters, as they would never be moving on apart from each other like this, surely?!
Through all the failed relationships, experimenting, frustration, boredom and personal tragedies, Tibette, the holy grail, was pursued like this during 6 seasons of the original series, and then finally found at the end of what we then thought would be the final season. Yet there we were, more than 10 years later, seeing them divorced and Tina engaged to someone else?? WTF, tibette is endgame, we found our treasured ending already, they should stop messing with us. This was not what we had signed up for. This was not why we got all excited when we learned about the reboot. But hey, we’re nothing if not persistent and adamant, and so we were back on our pursuit, because it was after all the holy grail we were pursuing, and that should not be taken lightly. And by having Tina land on Bette’s doorstep yet again, at the very last scene of this season, we won, right? Finally…
But did we? Did we really? When two people have put in so much time and effort, so much hardship, so much personal growth and mutual respect and understanding, and they still haven’t been able to make their relationship work in an enduring way, should we really want to force them, pressuring our image of what is right and wrong onto them? Is one specific relationship, with one specific person, the holy grail just because we want or need it to be? When I ask myself what I want most for myself in this life, my answer is always “happiness”, without exception. When someone asks me what I want most for my loved ones in this life, my answer is always happiness. I have never defined what that happiness looks like or should look like. Not for myself, nor for my loved ones. And yet, for some reason, I would define it for a fictitious TV-show couple? When I ponder that thought for even 2 seconds, I already start feeling uncomfortable. Especially as I still see the mutual respect, the undying love and the underlying deep bond remaining, and yet they are separated, I realize that they must have given it their all already. And I’m suddenly deeply aware that there could only ever be one ship I should wish for: sail into the sunset with happiness, wherever it takes you! Whoever else may be on board is secondary. Secondary, but not completely unimportant. When you see a woman as beautiful, communicative, distinguished, artistic, classy, self-aware and mature as Pippa by Bette’s side, and when you see how Bette finally lights up again in splendor, after so many years of fighting and feeling miserable, how can one not want this kind of happiness for her? Or for anyone, really?!
Many questions are still left unanswered between Bette and Tina. Most importantly, it seems, “are you still in love with me?” and “If Tina was to show up on your doorstep and says: I’m in love with you, and I want to try again. What would you say?”. To me the questions that originate from these, are much more interesting: why is it important to Tina whether or not Bette is still in love with her, if she initiated their divorce, is in love with Carrie and about to get married? Why does it take her being jealous of another real love interest in Bette’s life, every single time, before she suddenly shows up on her doorstep and (possibly) wants her back? And ultimately, why does anyone even consider it realistic and viable for two women in their 50s, who have spent most of their adult life working through their relationship problems without lasting success, to want to try again in actual hopes of making it work this time around?
So here’s how I think their conversation at Dana’s would have continued and ended, had it not been interrupted:
Bette: No, no, I’m glad Shane and Alice asked me that question, because it made me realize that if you did show up at my doorstep, I would tell you that I will always love you, you are the mother of our child, but I’m not in love with you. I am really and truly happy in my relationship with Pippa. And I want that same happiness for you too! If you found that with Carrie, then I’m happy for the both of you. But if you have any doubts, whatsoever, I just wish they are not based on hopes of us getting back together.
And so we wait for an announcement of renewal… Season three, we’re ready!
Note: I took the liberty to split up my review of the final episode of this season in two parts, in order to be able to properly address the many events and loose ends. The second part will drop in a day or two.