I don’t remember how old I was when I realized that not everyone’s parents worked together.
See, I was a faculty brat. My parents met because they both worked for at the same prep school*– and my friends were mostly the kids of *their* friends, who were in basically the same situation. Married people didn’t always do the exact same thing – Mom taught Latin and mythology, Dad taught math – but they spent all day in, more or less, the same place. (Also, grown-ups got long vacations too: not as long as ours, and they had to do paperwork or take calls, but everyone could go away for two months in the summer. Finding out otherwise pretty well shattered my morale re: adulthood.)
Did TV shatter my illusions? Probably not–partly because I was raised by hippie wolves and didn’t get to watch anything but PBS until I was nine, but largely because, in most fiction about adults that’s not about a family (or a group of friends with rotating SOs), couples *do* work in the same office. It makes sense: if the focus is on the workplace, having characters work together makes it easier to give everyone screen time, and the audience is going to want main characters to get together with other main characters. (There’s no emotional investment in randos.)
This isn’t a trope I mind–it works for the narrative, and my parents are proof that people can spend eight hours a day sort of together and still want to hang out afterwards, as baffling as I find that general concept.** But two of my recent media indulgences have stretched the co-worker couple trope in ways I find interesting.
1) Dragon Age: Inquisition
I’m a Bioware girl, as a general rule. Epic fantasy plus dialogue choices plus a number of hot NPCs offering semi-explicit sex will nearly always get my money, and Bioware gets extra points by blatantly shutting down the complaints of fragile straight dudes who can’t handle having the option to hit on a guy, or something.
Inquisition continues all of these elements. (Also mounts and weird collect-all-the-things sidequests, but I don’t care.) One of the interesting departures from previous games, though, is the War Table/Advisors system. Short version: you get three advisors who you can use to take actions that don’t directly involve wandering around and killing things and/or talking to people. Two of them are potential romantic targets–and due to my inclinations (clean-cut boys with full heads of hair and good abs, plus the military thing is hot) I went with Cullen.
When talking about Origins, I mentioned that I loved how game mechanics pretty much dictate that romance plot avoid sexist tropes: none of your male love interests gets snitty about having a female leader, or tries the horrible “I am overprotective to show how much I care” routine.***
Since your advisors don’t come with you in Inquisition, this goes double. Cullen’s the commander of your forces, so you’re both physically fighting for the cause, but you’re generally not together. Each of you sends the other off into danger, not without trepidation but without any attempt to stop the other from doing their job, because you’re both adults and you act that way.
“Two adults acting that way,” is pretty much a requirement for me as far as romance goes these days, but it’s still a refreshing change to encounter it so blatantly in a video game.
2) The Librarians
Sequel TV show to three All The Myths Are True movies, this series reminds me of early-season Buffy, in the best way. (Less eye candy for me personally, though Jones the thief isn’t bad, but you can’t have everything.) Everyone is snarky but mostly adult, people don’t get let off too easily for what they do, and there’s a good balance between MOTW and lasting arcs.
(In the grand tradition of Buffy, the costuming department has also decided that “geeky redhead”=”fashion sense of a six-year-old,” and as a geeky redhead myself, I wish that would stop being a code. Willow was forgivable due to age, but no adult woman should be caught dead in baggy one-strapped short-alls, let alone those *and* white tights.) (Free fashion advice: the occasions on which white tights look good on a grownup all involve figure skating competitions in 1983.)
So, in the first episode, the Guardian (person involved with protecting the Librarian(s), in this case an ex-HSA badass) gets involved with Noah Wyle’s character. But because he’s Noah Wyle and doing other things, his character then disappears to investigate other dimensional wacky hijinks for multiple episodes at a time, occasionally returning for a cameo.
Now, I am uncertain about the plausibility of a long-distance relationship (or any relationship) with someone you’ve known for two days; my headcanon is that there’s obviously a What Happens In Other Dimensions, Stays In Other Dimensions deal going on, because there pretty much has to be. That said, given the relationship existing, the characters handle it very well. They’re clearly glad to see each other when they do, but there’s none of the “you can’t leave me” angst: they like each other, they have things to do, that’s how it goes.
It’s a nice change.
In other news, my plan from here on out is to update roughly every Thursday, except for blog tour links and other announcements, which I’ll post as they go up. (Normal schedule will be suspended when I’m on blog tour, because no.) Every third post will likely be semi-controversial: I’m not looking for sensationalism, but I have some opinions that maybe aren’t for everyone, especially for anyone who might be reading this while related to me.
Next time, my take on How To Like Problematic Things: The Romance Edition, or, Lots of People Like Lloyd Dobler And Go On to Have Productive and Fulfilling Lives, I’m Sure.
*In the Outward Bound program. Meanwhile, I’m Shelley Long at the *start* of Troop Beverly Hills. Go figure.
** For those new to me or this blog, I’m the least romantic romance novelist working. Fictional men are great because they don’t hang around having opinions about where to get takeout or trying to start conversations when you’re doing something else.
***I love this meme. And inevitably someone on FB will ask well what if he doesn’t like you staying out really late or talking to sketchy people, to which my answer is: a) I *have* a mom, b) *my mom* grasps that I’m an adult woman and can make my own choices, c) if your boyfriend is less healthy about this shit than my mom, go back to the inside of the heart locket.