A Cure For The Moonlighting Curse In TV Relationship Dramas

by Benjamin Hall

[*Warning: Possible Spoilers for Moonlighting, Castle, and Lois & Clark: The New Adventures Of Superman.]

From March 3, 1985 to May 14, 1989 the show Moonlighting (starring Bruce Willis and Cybill Shepard) ran on ABC. It primarily relied on fast-paced line delivery and tension between the two leads. However, like various other shows, such as the more recent Castle, the romantic tensions are often teased too far. By that I mean characters such as the ones Willis and Shepard played are either brought together after too long a time or separated after the fact. When either type of event happens and viewership goes down it triggers “The Moonlighting Curse.”

While I do not believe in said curse (due to the various problems in creating a show) I do have some solutions to it. One possible solution is to have at least one relatively stable romantic relationship in the show. This would allow those who get invested in seeing characters being together to have a potential focus beyond the other relationships. Also, the relatively stable relationship could even have unsuccessful attempts at intrusion by others to allow for jealous tension.

Another solution would involve a plan in which the show’s showrunner(s) set a length of time to get the characters together. In order for this solution to work, at least one of three other things must happen. The couple must stay together for a reasonable amount of time and then separate for reasons that are consistent with their personalities. Though, if this happens they can’t have a will they/won’t they tension for several seasons or the rest of show. To have said tension start-up again would trigger the curse.

The second option is to simply end the show after at least one more season or with the episode where they get together. This would be extremely tricky to do seeing how it is tough to find and keep an audience, especially season to season. Yet this option is potentially the most intriguing for budget-conscious producers.

The last option to make solution two work is to just keep the characters together and focus on various troubles in their relationship. This option would also require having interesting (yet still believable for the show) events happen. For example besides its many problems, in its later seasons, the show Castle kept getting more outlandish despite having a previously grounded setting. In other words, keeping true to the original concept of the show with quality work from all involved, but with a relationship as part of the plot.

Now my last solution to avoid the curse goes along better with the second possible solution. It involves deciding from the outset with the main cast and writers how long they and the show can go if the pilot is greenlit for a series. However, this last solution is the most unlikely to work, due to how people change their minds at different times on a variety of work-related matters.

Finally while I don’t believe in the Moonlighting curse, a lot of nostalgia is held by various fandoms for shows that supposedly contracted it. Heck, Moonlighting and Lois and Clark: The New Adventures Of Superman are two examples of this.

Benjamin Hall

Among Benjamin Hall's many credits he is the creator and writer of the comic Time Trio; a writer/editor of various works for Sequart Organization; Blogger for Rippersspot.blogspot.com; a columnist for Comicon. He holds a Bachelor's in film studies and a Master's Degree in Media Communications. He is also an Aspie.