We need to change the romantic narrative on exes in TV shows…

Last week I was chilling one evening watching the latest episode of This Is Us, if you don’t watch This Is Us you can still read this post anyway don’t worry 😉 now just to give a brief overview. One of the main characters Kevin, has an ex Sophie who was his childhood sweetheart etc. Every time we see a new positive progression for Kevin. His ex Sophie seems to appear and put a spanner in the works. The end of the latest episode showed this glimpse of Sophie reading about him in a magazine and pondering. And I got so pissed off with that ending.

Why is that so bad?

If you were to look at any TV series we grew up with, or even TV shows now. I guarantee you each one has this cute couple that we all ‘ship’ who grow up and move away or whatever during the series run and yet somehow, each time, they always get back together in the end.

Now, I am a bit of a hypocrite here because I did watch all these soppy shows growing up. I was rooting for Lucas to pick Peyton in One Tree Hill, I never quite got over the fact Joey Potter picked Pacey over Dawson in Dawson’s Creek, but I can’t help but struggle to understand why we are rooting for exes to reunite? Every damn time. It’s completely unrealistic.

I don’t want to rain on anyone’s parade who also love all these kinds of shows but let’s be honest here, how many people reading this are with someone they dated when they were fifteen or is with an ex who they separated from for a few years?

I am positive the number of people is small. For every 50 people I know, the number of people who are with an ex or childhood honey is 0-1 on average (depending on the 50 people in question).

I can genuinely put my hand on my heart and say that I don’t ever see myself going back to an ex-boyfriend. It isn’t because I hate any of them or because I want to slag them off, it’s because genuinely, none of my exes would work being with me now. I mean, they didn’t work with me in the first place when I was a different person so they’re definitely not going to work with me now that I’ve grown up a bit from everything.

I can understand why British soaps might do this narrative, because in fairness, they have a limited number of characters to work with so it makes sense to make them ‘recycle’. But we do really need to stop rooting for characters to keep taking back their ex.

Why are you so annoyed by this, Zoë? I can hear you all say…

Because to me, narratives that we are constantly viewing as we grow up are telling us never to move on and it is not normal!

A lot of my best friends are in relationships that they’re very happy in. How many of them are with ex boyfriends they took back after years? None. Do you see where I’m getting at here?

We can’t be teaching people to love themselves and move on from stuff that hurts them when every show that comes on shows people running back to their exes at the last hurdle. It’s not realistic, all it does is teach people that you don’t have to move on.

I’m sure This Is Us are going to somehow make Kevin and Sophie endgame and I’ll still love the show but I will roll my eyes, heavily. Particularly because Kevin’s character is 40 now, not 15. Why would he not have grown and moved on from his ex-wife?

I do apologise if this is annoying any one who is a massive romantic and constantly roots for all these couples to reunite in shows. But I have to say something now because it just grinds my gears!

We are only human. We make a lot of mistakes growing up. But to me, the whole point of relationship’s is that they are part of growing up and the first love isn’t always the everlasting one. We learn a lot throughout our relationships about who we are, what we want and what/who we don’t want.

I for one am not the same type of girlfriend that I was a few years ago. Let alone a decade ago. A lot of my ex boyfriends will have a completely different story about what I’m like to what a future boyfriend will say about me. Because I’m not the same, I have changed and learned as I grew. For every failed relationship, once the tears or rage was over I managed to address things about them or myself that helped me see why we didn’t work.

We’re not in the 50s anymore.

We are lucky to live in a generation that has not followed the ‘being married before you’re 30 and having kids is the most important thing to do in life’. Women bring the money home just as much as guys do, feminism is strong, we remain single and for some people have the mind set on ‘I never want marriage or kids’ and that is okay.

People don’t assume that you have an additional arm or leg or are some sort of alien if you’re happily living life on your own now. So why are we all still so obsessed and okay with this message that constantly goes out about settling for what you know?

Life is an adventure. And personally, settling is the worst idea in the world for me. I have been single so long because I refuse to just settle with whoever fancies me just because there may be one or two judgmental dickheads in my family who are still stuck in olden day times. This is about me. If I meet someone and pursue a relationship, it’s because we’re on the same page. I love them, they love me and we work together.

(I’m honestly not having a dig at anyone who is still with their childhood sweetheart or has taken back an ex, if you are in that situation, that is amazing and it’s great you have that. But you are a rarity. The purpose of what I’m saying is that if we’re going to have shows reflecting real life experiences, they need to brush off the ex).

I know it would piss off a lot of fans if they made the main characters not end up together. But honestly, why are we so angry about it? Surely, we as fans need to change our logic on what works for each character and if they’re growing as a person and moving on, we need to be rooting for them. Not getting stroppy about it.

As most of you know, I’m slowly but surely becoming a writer and trying to get stories out there and writing up novels etc. And I will tell you this now, if my lead character in the story has a teen love but they go on to do better things they will not be getting with their ex in the end. And these are the sorts of stories we should be backing up. Not everything is a ‘happily ever after’ scenario. I’m not trying to be cynical here. I’m just realistic. We need to be okay with characters not being endgame just because they had this whole love story in high school.

Are any of us the same as we were as teenagers? Most likely not. Because we learn as we grow. So let’s root for the woman to walk away at the end with a successful career, or tell the guy no sorry I’m better off without you.

That’s the sort of narrative we need to be throwing out there. No more making people think that they have to settle or that an ex is worth running back to just because you had some weird feeling in your tummy when they appear for the first time (it will die down).

So maybe next time we’re watching these big romantic shows, instead of just pondering over the fact that they just look good together as characters, and ‘but she was with him when his dad died’ and so on. Think about how maybe, just maybe, they’re not endgame. Maybe he or she would be better off growing apart from them and going for a badass career or big move instead.

Now that’s an ending I’m rooting for.


  1. I completely agree with what you said! I mean not excluding that in cases it might happen and people are still happy to get back to them, but as you said most of the times it’s just a reason not to grow and change. I think that mostly on TV there should be more narratives to be shown, thank you for sharing x

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh yessssss to this. Sometime I wonder who the plots are written for. I mean I know we all have an off button and can choose what to watch but it’s so irritating when you get invested in the characters and then it all pans out so predictably! x

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I really enjoyed reading this post and completely agree. Ex’s are ex’s for a reason and to take the back, the majority of the time doesn’t work because there is always that resentment from the first time. I think writers need to be a bit more creative and more real, because life isn’t always a bed of roses with a happy ending.

    Liked by 1 person

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