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We Need To Stop “Shipping” Toxic Relationships

We Need To Stop “Shipping” Toxic Relationships

Danielle Mahoney

Have you ever realised just how often we’re forced to normalise Toxic Relationships onscreen? I didn’t – until recently that is. And once I started to think about it, it really annoyed me.

Previously we chatted about the ways that TV Shows Distorted Our Expectations Of Secondary School and and it got me thinking about how some TV shows and movies are just so problematic in their portrayal of relationships. The more I thought about it the more I realised that toxic relationships are often idealised on screens. And worse, we’re actually manipulated into rooting for the couple – or “shipping” them – as is the term these days.

Here are some of the fictional toxic relationships that we really should have dumped…


I know that 10 years on Twilight isn’t that big of a deal anymore, but trust me when I say it was HUGE at the time. This is definitely another example of a movie you would have been obsessed with in the 00’s. But I’m sure you’ve probably seen the movies at some point in your existence. Twilight was the original movie that kicked off all this “shipping” and you were either Team Edward or Team Jacob.

The problem is there really shouldn’t have been a Team Edward at all. Edward spends most of his time trying to influence and control Bella. Whereas Jacob is happy to let her be as she is. And guess who she choses in the end? There’s also the huge metaphor in Twilight in that Bella had to change (become an undead vampire, no less!) in order to be with Edward. You should never have to change who you are to be with someone.

One of the major plot lines in the series was Edward trying to stop Bella from seeing her best friend because he was “worried about her”. That’s not protective, it’s possessive.  There’s a huge difference between “text me when you’re home safe” or “do you want me to collect you?” to being followed to events that you are not invited to (girls nights) or throwing a fit about your significant other doing something without you. Women should be allowed go, do, say what they want.

Gossip Girl

I should have been working on commission for Gossip Girl because I got so many of my friends watching it. I even wrote about it for Missy! But I recently watched it again and it honestly really disturbed me.

The Problem With Chuck Bass

Chuck was supposed to be the boy bad who we grew to love. But a quick watch of the very first episode of Gossip Girl and you see just how problematic Chuck is.

In the space of one episode he proclaims that Nate is entitled to “tap that ass” when talking about Blair. No one is ever entitled to sex. Ever. And when referring to Serena he says that “there’s something wrong with that level of perfection, it needs to be violated”. The language used by Chuck, and by extension the writers, is appalling and perpetuates rape culture. Lest we not forget that Chuck tried to force himself on Serena and then delivers the line, “your life is over slut”. And oh yeah, he rounds off the pilot by trying to rape a 14-year old Jenny Humphrey. Someone reading this who has never seen Gossip Girl is probably wondering what they hell is this show? We kid you not. These were actually major plotlines in the series.

Originally Chuck wasn’t supposed to be a main character, but after his off-the-chart chemistry with Leighton Meester the writers decided to throw them together to become Chair. Chuck and Blair should have their own place in the Toxic Relationships Hall of Fame.

A Bad Romance

The thing is, Chuck treated Blair so awfully, but she just kept coming back for more and even married him. And the writers tied-up their toxic relationship into some epic love story. It was messed up. Anytime she tried to express how she felt (in true Blair Waldorf take-down form!) Chuck responded by being even worse instead of listening to her. He then traded her for a hotel, like she was his possession and got angry when she had the cheek to be upset about it.

Now, I know TV series have to create drama and that couples just can’t have a nice happy time (why oh why?) but Chuck and Blairs toxic relationship was not a healthy one. It’s worrying to think that girls may experience this in real life relationships and think its normal. It’s not. Gossip Girl sends out an awful message to viewers.

See Also

Fictional Toxic Relationships Shouldn’t Be Shipped

Being fed these fictional toxic relationships makes it harder for viewers to recognise troubling behaviour in their own relationships. The message sent out is that if you put up with this type of behaviour you will be rewarded with a happily ever after in the end. In reality that doesn’t happen and toxic relationships can be dangerous and damaging.

We get that drama is needed in tv shows and movies, but it shouldn’t be in the form of emotional abuse towards women. Toxic Relationships should never be rationalised or normalised

Are we over thinking this or do you think that movies and TV shows glamorize toxic relationships? Let us know in the comments below.

If you are worried about your relationship or a friends relationship visit for their free and confidential Instant Messaging Support Service. Too Into You is a project run by Women’s Aid and supports young people who are worried about how their partner treats them.

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