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A Love Letter to My FRINGE Family

By K. Haley

As the final chapter of our beloved FRINGE is upon us, kicking off with the excellent premiere episode “Transilience Thought Unifier Model-11” and the strong character-driven second installment, “In Absentia”, I am experiencing mixed emotions.  One part of me is over the moon that FRINGE is back. While the other part of me is depressed because soon, I will have to bid adieu to characters I’ve grown to love.

Of course, you always feel sad when you lose your favorite television show, so my sadness at losing FRINGE is no surprise.  What has come as a surprise to me is that I will miss all of you, my fellow Fringies.  A group of terrifically smart, funny and caring people who have made my FRINGE experience so much more rich.

The FRINGE online community has given me a place to hang out, socialize and share ideas.  At times, I felt a bit silly because of my obsession with Fringe; after all, I’m a grown woman (over 37 years). Grown women don’t obsess over a TV show, let alone a science fiction one.  But then I met you, a group people who shared my passion and obsession for FRINGE.  I realized that I wasn’t alone in the world.  I had discovered this amazing world where discussing a television show was the point – and the fun of it all.

How did I find this awesome community?  I ran across a ‘recap’ of FRINGE on one of my favorite sites, Entertainment Weekly, which spurred me to go deeper.  So, I Googled Fringe and to my utter delight, I found what would soon became my neighborhood. I found Serible.com, Fringebloggers.com, Fringetelevision.com and other television and sci-fi oriented sites. Having found these spaces, I began to leave comments that got responses, most of them positive.  Encouraged by this recognition, I took to Twitter and found Fringies all over including series executive producer Joel Wyman and series actors Josh Jackson, Jasika Nicole, John Noble and the magnificent editor Ari Margolis.

I have read some incredible and thought-provoking reviews and observations, funny recaps, as well as a few mean-spirited ones during my time as part of this community.  Standouts for me include Roco over at Seriable and Fringebloggers, Darko, Aimee Long, Josie Kafka over at Fringetelevision.com and most recently Mary & Louise at popculturenexus.com,  as well as Marisa Roffman at givememyremote.com and Doc Jenson at EW.com (Entertainment Weekly’s site).  I also listen to podcasts: “The Fringe Podcast” and “Fringe Benefits Inc. (F.B.I.)”.

I know our relationship doesn’t have to end after the 13th episode airs. There are other shows to watch and discuss. I can still check in with Roco to talk about REVOLUTION and PERSON OF INTEREST; and while I really like these shows, I’m not passionate about them. Maybe it’s because they haven’t (at least not yet) produced that sense of shared purpose, the ‘us against the world’ feeling which permeates FRINGE (and XFiles).  A purpose that creates strong relationships between the characters (romantic, familial, friendly)—XFiles had Scully and Mulder and FRINGE has Olivia and Peter, Peter and Walter, Walter and Olivia and Walter and Astrid.

As both Wyman (Fringe’s executive producer and showrunner) and Jeff Pickner (former Fringe executive producer and showrunner) have said, ‘FRINGE is really a family drama disguised as science fiction’ and I agree. But the family extends beyond the one we see on television.  The Fringe family includes over 3 million of us who come together on a weekly (and sometimes daily) basis to critique, praise and postulate, but most importantly, to share our love for a little television show that came into our lives almost five years ago.

As I come to the end of my FRINGE-watching journey, I’m going to savor every moment with my beloved TV show and most of all, my online community.

Thank you FRINGIES for welcoming me into this awesome family!

FRINGE Fridays Rule!!!!

A NEW GIRL AND A COUPLE OF GUYS

K. Haley

New Girl has emerged as my favorite new sitcom of last season – and should maintain its ranking as a sophomore on the upcoming fall roster. I thoroughly enjoyed the first season. The premise is simple; a group of 3 male friends/roommates, all in their late twenties to early thirties, rent a bedroom in their large L.A. converted loft apartment to a young and quirky female ex-junior high school teacher. She moves in and their lives are changed in ways that only television sitcoms can (sometimes) manage to successfully celebrate even the pitfalls of platonic friendships.  Follow this link for the full show description www.fox.com/new-girl.

Why am I writing about this show in a column reserved for romantic pairings? Of course, any show that features a group of attractive young people is bound to have a potential romantic coupling, or two, lurking in the background.  But on occasion, you run across a storyline that features a group of friends who come together in a ‘meet cute’ scenario and instantly form a bond. New Girl is one of those shows.

Besides the ‘friend-through-thick-and-thin’ bond between the roommates, New Girl features two romantic couples; at this writing, one of the couples has already consummated and their journey, although brief, was definitely cute and fun. I must admit the pairing of these two characters was a bit of a surprise to me, but they definitely had chemistry in a strange yet sentimental sort of way.  The other potential couple, which I believe is the main one, is between Jess (the New Girl) and Nick. It was obvious to me from the premiere episode where the focus of the romantic tension would be.   As the series progresses, I’m sure the, recently broken-up, other couple, Schmidt and CeCe will return to the classic will-they-or-won’t-they (get back together) phase of their romance; while the other potential duo, Nick and Jess, will continue to struggle to ignore what is obviously a mutual attraction.

I don’t know if this was done intentionally, but the writers have chosen a very subtle path to the potential romantic coupling of Jess and Nick.  The creator, Elizabeth Meriwether, reportedly stated that this pairing could be in the offing – distance future, but she doesn’t want to bring the coupling about just yet because the characters have a lot of growing to do before it can happen. I’m inclined to agree with that reasoning.  I like observing the journey to relationship-land, so I say take all the time you need.  Anyway, with solid ratings and a second season in the can, we have another luxurious 22 episodes to watch them grow individually – and eventually together.

In the meantime, Nick and Jess continue their dance of attraction in the classic, will-they-or-won’t-they fashion – with plenty of combative, passionate and heartfelt moments that culminate in a totally hilarious perfect union.  I’m not the only one fixated on the romantic potential between Jess and Nick.

Follow this link and check out this fan-edited video with some of the couple’s best shipper moments.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2aH7tdExWpA

Of course, whether the Jess/Nick storyline fully develops into a romantic pairing, only the writers know for sure. Meanwhile, I’ll continue to enjoy the build-up between these characters because they’re funny and oh-so-cute together. I think that the chemistry between the actors (Zooey Deschanel and Jake Johnson) won’t allow the creator to keep them apart for too long, but uncharacteristically, I hope it’s later than sooner.

In the spirit of the kind of heartfelt advice Jess might dispense: keep your heart open and your eyes peeled for that magic moment when you meet your soul mate.  Yeah, kinda corny . . . I know.

FRINGE: Television Romance Done Right . . . or Not (Peter and Olivia) – Part Two

By K. Haley

In my previous post, I raved about how brilliantly the Peter and Olivia romance on Fringe was handled. But now I have to amend my previous opinion.  Why? The two episodes that followed the beautifully written and acted episode, “A Better Human Being”, nearly ruined the well-drawn P/O story arc that has been building for the better part of four seasons. 

In “The End of All Things” (Ep. 14), all of the layering that had been created in the “A Better Human Being” (Ep. 13) was torn apart when Peter rejected Olivia because he was uncertain that she was ‘his’ Olivia.  This twist, or wrench, would have been better tolerated if we hadn’t spent the entire episode of “A Better Human Being” watching Peter decide, after careful observation, that ‘this’ Olivia was indeed ‘his’ Olivia.  Although many fans found Peter’s rejection of Olivia natural, I found that it cheapened the emotional journey of the preceding episodes (Eps. 12 & 13). It just felt contrived to put one more obstacle between the characters.   

The following episode “A Short Story About Love” (Ep. 15), which was meant to be a love letter to the Shippers (viewers, like me, who are vested in romantic couplings), lost its impact for me because of the false issue that was presented in “A Better Human Being” — Peter rejection of Olivia.  As with most Fringe episodes, though, the writers did deliver some great scenes. I enjoyed watching Olivia’s journey to choose love and all of its uncertainty over opting to play it safe. It was satisfying as a Shipper to note this character sacrificing a part of herself (life experiences and relationships from the current timeline) for the opportunity to experience true love. This choice was beautifully illustrated in the scene [Fringe Episode 4.15 Scene – Don’t Give Up On Me – YouTube] between Olivia and Nina (her surrogate mother in this timeline). That’s a pretty damn romantic story arc, if you ask me.

Meanwhile, we watched as Peter dealt with his decision to leave ‘this’ Olivia—he was unhappy, but determined to do the ‘right thing’ as defined by Walter.  In probably one of my favorite scenes this season, Peter found out that not only was this his Olivia, but that he was already home [Fringe Episode 4.15 Scene – Back Home – YouTube]. 

The final scene in “A Short Story About Love” was typically Cineplex in its romance factor, with Peter and Olivia running into each other’s arms [FRINGE 4×15 “A Short Story About Love” Ending – YouTube]. Unfortunately, this scene lost some of its impact because of the unnecessary diversion of Peter’s earlier rejection of Olivia. Then again, I have re-watched this scene multiple times since it aired.

I totally respect the Fringe writing team. They are arguably the best in the business, especially in character and relationship development. Obviously, I adore this show. Even though I wasn’t totally happy with how they ultimately handled the P/O story arc, I still believe FRINGE proved they know how to tell a love story better than most. Now, let’s see how they manage the relationship moving forward.  

Television Romance Done Right (Fringe)

-Fringe Episode “A Better Human Being”: Television Romance Done Right (Peter and Olivia)

By K. Haley

FRINGE, in my opinion (as well as 3 million others), is by far the best show on television – with its superior writing, incredible acting and excellent production value.  Even more so for me, this show continues to execute the best ‘will they or won’t they’ storyline that I’ve seen on television to date – and I’ve logged a lot of TV time.

That said, I was motivated to write about a FRINGE episode that aired on Friday, 2/17/12, “A Better Human Being”.  I will not focus on the episode’s A-story, DNA testing gone awry when conducted by an arrogant, but brilliant doctor. Nor will I bother to delve into the whole idea of how this MOW (monster of the week) episode tied into the broader story arc/mythology, as more competent people have already written about it. My interest is in the other A-story and the real reason for the episode: how Olivia regains her memories from the old timeline (OT).

[Update: Latest episode “The End of Everything” separated Peter and Olivia yet again. I will comment on that later in this article.]

As a proud Shipper, I am nearly an obsessive one around the Peter/ Olivia relationship.  Why? I haven’t been able to pinpoint it yet, but maybe it’s because of how it has been handled since the pilot.  I’ll be the first to admit that I didn’t see any signs of the possibility of a romantic connection between the characters, especially since Olivia was in love with someone else at the beginning of the series and throughout most of Season One.  I also measure everything against my all-time favorite show, X-Files, and the Mulder/ Scully relationship. Talk about soul mates! 

A funny thing happened when I “re-discovered” the series after not watching it once I had gotten through a few episodes from season one (1). The reason for my initial dislike was pure rationalizing, really. Based on an unfair comparison, I didn’t like the Olivia character (she was no Scully and Peter was no Mulder).  However, with nothing else to watch, one evening I happened to turn to FOX and found Fringe, and really tuned in (the producers, John Noble and Josh Jackson were actually tweeting during the broadcast). After watching the episode, I later rented the DVD of the pilot; subsequently rented the entire first season and was from then on hooked. Re-watching the pilot, I immediately noticed how the seed was being planted for the future romantic relationship between Peter and Olivia.  In the scene where Peter and Olivia were in the lab at Harvard, folding tarp and the sharing of a cup of coffee, it was a ‘look’ they exchanged that would make its appearance throughout the series.

The history of the Peter and Olivia (P/O) relationship ebbed and flowed at a snail’s pace for the first two seasons to the point that many felt it didn’t exist; some viewers even commented that there was no chemistry between Anna Torv and Josh Jackson. Because Josh Jackson was being so vocal about not wanting a romantic relationship between the two, I believe his view affected the believability level of the budding romance.  To his credit, though, when the writers decided to put the relationship front and center, Josh embraced it and did a wonderful job with Anna in conveying the growing love between the two.

Season Three really set the stage for what was to come in Season Four, as Peter and Olivia’s love may very well be what saves the universes from destruction.  As a Polivia (P/O) Shipper, I have watched with frustration – and complained about the potential love affair between the New Timeline (NT) Olivia and a romantic relationship with the recently added over here Lincoln character, as absolutely unacceptable.  At this point in the season, I can’t say that I still don’t believe this to be true, but my fears of keeping Olivia and Peter apart were unfounded. As Joel and Jeff have stated in numerous interviews, they are 100 percent vested in the P/O relationship, which they delivered in “A Better Human”.  [Update: this has since changed, as the latest episode has separated the two destined lovers, once again, opening the possibility for an Olivia Lincoln romance].

This episode truly gave a lesson on how to (potentially) resolve the ‘will they or won’t they’ scenario in a satisfactory way. It was apparent in the previous two or so episodes that Olivia was warming to Peter, I believe, even before having any of the OT memories.  This speaks to the notion that no matter the distance or circumstance, when two people are meant to be together, they will be.   Once Olivia slowly regained her memory of the OT, she didn’t push back, but accepted these new memories and began to pursue the relationship with Peter. Peter resisted, even though it was difficult for him.  The pain in Peter’s eyes and the yearning in Olivia’s eyes illustrated the depth of the relationship—well acted by both Anna Torv and Josh Jackson.

Why did it work? Because Anna and Josh gave one of the best performances of two people in love that I have seen on network television, since ER’s Doug Ross (George Clooney) and Carol Hathaway (Julianna Margulies).

The writers constructed an entire episode that was believable and earned the ending of the two star-crossed lovers coming together.  Using flashbacks to illustrate Olivia’s slow recovery of her memories from the OT, you could compare the OT Olivia with this TL Olivia and witness the merging of these two versions into a more emotionally assessable person. Unlike the OT Olivia, who spent the better part of the series being closed-off and untrusting of people, let alone a romantic relationship.

Peter wouldn’t or couldn’t believe that ‘his’ Olivia was right in front of him, while a newly changed Olivia experiencing a strong attraction and love, embraced this feeling of love – a feeling that a few weeks prior wasn’t there.   Olivia’s awakening was truly lovely to see. Anna Torv, in this performance, is able to deliver such strong emotions that it draws the viewer into the scene even more than usual.

Meanwhile, Peter struggled mightily to fight his feelings; afraid that because he wanted ‘his’ Olivia back so badly that he might make the mistake of accepting this NT Olivia as his.

Again, the acting on FRINGE is far superior to the vast majority of acting on television or even the movies. Josh Jackson’s eyes conveyed it all: longing, hope, reluctance and finally acceptance and matched Anna Torv’s intensity.

The payoff for the characters and, indeed, for the Shippers was spectacular.  When romantic pairings on television work it is utopia for those vested in the relationship. POLIVIA is a great current example of the classic Hollywood romance and television’s ‘will they or won’t they’ storyline.  Bravo, Anna Torv, Josh Jackson and my favorite Fringe writers Monica Owusu-Breen and Alison Schapker who wrote the script for the episode while Glen Whitman and Robert Chiappetta wrote the story – they do some of the best Peter/ Olivia storylines.

UPDATE:  The February 26th episode saw Peter retreat and ending the budding relationship before it could even start.  I will reserve my opinion if this development changes my opinion or supports it.

Until next posting, be happy, open and ready to embrace romantic love. It just might be lurking in that “little shop around the corner.”

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