If you're a fan of USA's Psych, as I am, chances are you went berserk when Shawn and Juliet finally kissed in the summer finale. Fans shrieked and squealed; message boards were overrun with ecstatic crowds; my best friend sent me multiple e-mails in all caps. It was big.
Yet for all the excitement, something felt a little … off.
It had to do with the fact that during the episode, Juliet had already slept with a new boyfriend and now was planning to go on a trip with him. It was in the foyer of this man's home, while he was in another room, that she kissed Shawn.
For some viewers, maybe these circumstances would have added an extra thrill to the proceedings. For many of us, it put a damper on them.
I'm not just dumping on Jules here, because Shawn has been in bed with other women throughout the show. It's not as if these sexual encounters have been overemphasized or graphic. But they happened—and that matters.
I don't just mean it matters in a moral and spiritual sense, though it does. It also matters to the story. In fact, I believe American culture's widespread acceptance of premarital sex is wrecking many of our most popular love stories.
Consider some of your favorite shows, and you may recognize the pattern. Some modern unwritten rule decrees that couples mustn't marry until the end, or nearly the end, of a TV series, because it would ruin the all-important sexual tension. Yet this doesn't preclude sex. They are allowed and even expected to have plenty of that, with each other and with others.
And that can warp a love story. Instead of being able to get emotionally invested in a couple's growing attraction and root for them, we are stymied over and over again as one or the other ends up hopping into bed with someone ...1
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