"I don't want to take the chance that this will ruin our friendship."
Whatever I was watching was one of those will-they-or-won't they, best-friends-until-they-realize-it's-something-more things. I began thinking about how often I've heard that line on various sitcoms, and it occurred to me that this hackneyed old phrase says a lot about our society:
In our society, emotional risk is to be feared. Nothing else.
Things have changed since the olden days of media, in which married couples could not be thought to share a bed, or the man had to keep his foot on the floor if they happened to be (gasp!) on the same bed at the same time. I don't know when it happened, I was too young to remember, but once the taboo was stripped away from sexuality on TV, portraying willful, rampant promiscuity has become "normal." Even in "prime time," beloved characters whimsically navigate a life of empty, meaningless sex:
Sam on Cheers.
Blanche on The Golden Girls.
Joey on Friends. Well, to be fair, everyone on friends, but Joey the most.
The cast of Seinfeld.
Sex and the City.
What all of these shows have in common is the shift to portraying emotional involvement as the big taboo. People jump into bed on the first date with no qualms, but spend hours at coffee houses and bars endlessly analyzing whether or not they should go to dinner with their current flame's parents, worried that will send "the wrong message."
Another thing these shows have in common is the essential emptiness and unhappiness in these people's lives. They are not happy, regardless of what superficial hilarity they display. The sinister part is, you have to look pretty closely to see that unhappiness, it is not something the writers want to portray, but it comes through if you're looking for it.
I don't think the only way to be happy is to get married and have babies and live in the suburbs. Not at all. But I do think that a quick route to unhappiness is to cheapen yourself and your sexuality until sex becomes your version of "How do you do."
I wonder how a sitcom about an adult, responsible, employed, intelligent, beautiful woman who is not promiscuous would go over? Or an adult, responsible, employed, intelligent, handsome, celibate man, who simply hasn't found the right woman yet?
You're right, it's too "out there." But I like taking risks.