Romantic Relations – Love is a Journey

There’s a lot to be said about my experiences with romance and how I’ve seen it portrayed in media over the course of my lifetime. I’ve often seen what I consider idyllic experiences, ya know the one’s that remind you of a Disney film and make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside. The ‘one true love’ and ‘happily ever after,’ stuff like that. What that showed me is that people just fall in love with each other, like it just happens and there’s little to no work done by either party. On the other end I’ve also seen experiences that are so dramatized that it’s made me reconsider whether the pursuit of romance is worth it all together. Often shown as degrading ones notion of self in order to increase their chances, fighting to be seen or have their existence acknowledged by the other party. It’s a shame really that popular media has shaped the perception of romance to be something so skewed. Unfortunately, both extremes made it difficult for me to make sense of what romance was really like growing up. I couldn’t make sense of it and foolishly tied it to my own notions of self-worth. If only healthier and more accessible depictions existed growing up, like the show I’ll be referencing for my entry: Schitt’s Creek.

Why Schitt’s Creek?

For those who don’t know and/or don’t remember, I stated that Schitt’s Creek was one of the best pieces of media I had the pleasure of experiencing last year (click here to see!). There’s so much this show does right and during my brief overview I didn’t go into too much detail in hopes of being able to elaborate more on at a later date. Well, the day has come for me to talk about the show a bit more and one of the best depictions of romance I’ve ever seen. Ya see, the creators, cast, and crew put a lot into developing believable and grounded character arcs for the audience to see unravel throughout the six seasons of the show. From major characters like all four members of the Rose family, to supporting characters like Stevie Budd and Roland Schitt, each undergoes a journey. So, there’s two specific arcs I’ll be discussing from the show and it’s for the characters of Alexis Rose, played by Annie Murphy, and Ted Mullens, played by Dustin Milligan. Let’s familiarize ourselves with where the series starts them off.

Who are Alexis Rose and Ted Mullens?

From the very start of the show we’re introduced to the Rose family, a family that has built its wealth and status through successful video chain stores that the father, Johnny Rose, created. His family is about what you’d expect: pretentious, selfish, arrogant, and other unsavory words to describe people with too much money and little empathy. Alexis is the youngest in the family and is the only daughter as well. She grew up largely unmonitored by her parents, aside from her brother David who was one of the only people in her life who demonstrated active care for her wellbeing, and even then she kinda just did what she wanted. Referring to her actions as just “living her life.” There’s an alarming amount of things she’s gotten herself into prior to the start of the show, which for example includes dating a Saudi prince and then being held as a hostage until a U.S. embassy was able to arrange her release. This was played off as some offbeat adventure through her retelling of it, just like the other numerous things she’s experienced. What a character haha, but also yikes. Because of all the adventuring, she didn’t finish her schooling and was effectively a high school drop out. So yea, that’s Alexis Rose prior to the start of the show.

Let’s now talk about Mr. Puns himself, Dr. Theodore “Ted” Mullens.

We don’t know much about Ted prior to the start of the show. We can see that he’s a well educated man who achieved earning veterinary degree and opened up his own clinic. His parents divorced and though we do eventually meet his mother, the father and former step-father are never seen are referred to by name (as far as I can recall). If there’s something the show wants you to focus on with him it’s this: he’s a very sweet and kind man who doesn’t know how attractive he is. You’d think someone like him would be a fighting back potential partners left and right, but instead his kindness is what keeps him single (I assume).

Now that we’ve gotten to understand where these characters started at before they met each other, let’s follow their journey together, from ‘meet cute’ to melancholic end (spoiler I know, but it’s about the journey).

It’s not about the outcome, it’s about the journey

I’ll be using YouTube video clips to show some important moments for these characters, but they all come from the same video. To stay on track, please only watch to the end of the segment each video starts on (minus the last one)!

I enjoy a good ‘meet cute’

I would say there’s nothing too special about their ‘meet cute’ if I’m being honest, and that’s okay, that’s the point. Ted is clearly more interested in Alexis than she is him. Remember that. As they start to date, as anyone does, they begin to learn how different they are from each other. Ted is a vet, as established earlier, and has a fondness for animals. Alexis I would say tolerates this. Can you really just tolerate animals when you’re dating a vet? Here’s another thing, a major thing: Alexis doesn’t want to stay in Schitt’s Creek. So when Ted proposes unexpectedly (bad move, Ted), it sends Alexis for a whirl and she says yes. Ya know why this is extra stinky? She’s aware that her family, for plot reasons, has a lead on securing a way out of their situation and leaving Schitt’s Creek. So, let me ask a rhetorical: what do you think will happen afterwards? Will they get married and live a long and happy life? ABSOLUTELY NOT. She chooses to lead Ted on by stating indefinites and the worst part is that he gives her the benefit of the doubt. Good lord is this part of their journey a bit painful to watch and that’s the point. We need to see how unfit they are for each other and THEY need to see it AND feel it as well.

At this point in the post moving forward we’ll be moving at a brisk pace, so buckle up and let’s now see how the first phase of their relationship comes to a close:

*face palm*

So this marks what I’ll refer to as the end of their first phase. So let’s summarize a few things to remember about it:

  • Alexis only thinks Ted is nice and attractive.
  • Alexis has difficulties being direct.
  • Alexis doesn’t think about the long term future.
  • Alexis doesn’t appreciate Ted nor respects him to the degree in which he respect her.
  • Ted is infatuated with Alexis.
  • Ted is too willing to sideline himself.

What’s important to understand about any relationship is that though it may not start under the best conditions, if it’s going to continue it must be under good intentions. Remember this as well. Now, going back to the journey of Alexis and Ted, some time passes after their breakup. Ya know what’s hard after a breakup?

Sometimes things work out I guess?

That’s right, seeing your ex in a better spot than when they were with you. Our man Ted began to turn things around for himself! Good for him honestly. Of course Alexis noticed, why wouldn’t she? Most of what she liked about him is heightened now. I won’t harp further on this since I’m realizing there’s a lot to cover still, so let me show you a very crucial moment for these characters:

the side most people don’t see

How many of us after a breakup have been able to hear the honest truth on how the other party processed their emotions post-breakup? I willing to bet not a whole lot of us. Why do you think that is? It’s probably because it’s difficult to accept the reality that you had an impact on someone’s life. You may have nested yourself into their social circles, their families, or even their hobbies. Breakups suck, in more ways than one, but I think this is one of the worst things about them.

Back to Alexis and Ted, where does their relationship go from here? Well, when a romantic relationship fails, why not try a platonic one and I mean honestly try? There’s a lot of empowerment that can be had when choosing to go this route instead of burning everything to the ground and walking away. It’s not for everyone, but you’d be surprised on what there is to gain by trying!

Again, to save time, let me summarize what happens during their friendship and what I’ll refer to as their second phase:

  • Alexis and Ted focus on building a friendship.
  • Ted offers Alexis a job as his clinic.
    • They form a deeper and healthier bond.
  • Ted encourages Alexis to pursue her education again.
    • He doesn’t judge her for being a dropout and helps her figure out what to do.
  • Alexis gets her high school diploma and begins taking college courses at the local community college.
    • Ted attends her high school graduation as her friend.
  • As Alexis becomes busier with her course work, she helps Ted find a replacement for her at his clinic.
    • They silently acknowledge they’ll miss each other.
  • Alexis discovers Ted has a girlfriend and is supportive.
    • She does this despite the romantic feelings she’s developing for him.
      • They remain friends during this time to the best of her ability.

So I mentioned earlier that Alexis had difficulties being direct. It’s not easy and I’ll be the first to admit that, but there’s a lot empowerment (there’s that word again) when you are. In a very plain sense it’s like being there for yourself, at least for me it is. Focusing back on Alexis, she’s grown a lot thanks to the help of Ted and the influence of the town of Schitt’s creek in general. Not only does she value her education now, she’s made a genuine friend for likely the first time in her life (I know Twyla from the dinner is her friend too, don’t worry). Someone who deeply cares and wants to see her succeed. She’s feeling loved, plain and simple. So when she acknowledges this, she begins to notice that there’s something more she’s feeling too and well…

Alexis showing growth

So oddly enough I’ve done something similar as Alexis and it was with my current long term girlfriend, Katie, prior to us being officially together. Looking back on the experience, I couldn’t tell you what pushed me to do such a thing to someone who was already in a relationship with someone else other than I felt compelled to let her know how I felt. I needed to openly acknowledge how I felt, I think that’s a more accurate recounting. It’s difficult to suppress a powerful emotion like love and I think that’s a wonderful thing. It can’t help but be shared. Speaking of…

Ted acknowledging said growth

And now we’re officially in the third and final phase of their relationship! Before we start talking about this final phase, let me summarize a few things from their previous one:

  • Alexis has learned to be more direct.
  • Alexis has learned to appreciate and respect Ted.
  • Alexis has seen the value in education and how it can help enable her future.
  • Ted is truly in love with Alexis.
  • Alexis is truly in love with Ted.

If you recall back to the summary I gave at the end of their first phase, you’ll notice that most of the points pertaining to Alexis have been addressed in some way and only one of Ted’s has. At this stage there’s two clear remaining points: “Ted is too willing to sideline himself” and “Alexis doesn’t think about the long term future.” These’ll be more or less the focus of the final phase of their relationship. Here’s what you need to know before I hit your heart with the feels hammer:

  • Alexis has started her own PR company and is finding success at a brisk pace.
  • Ted has been accepted into a prestigious program to do research on the Galapagos Islands.
    • Ted is willing to sideline the opportunity to be with Alexis, but she encourages him to accept the opportunity.
      • They attempt to manage a long distance relationship.
        • It proves to be more difficult than either would of hoped for.

There’s an inherent challenge with any type of relationship with balancing the wants and needs of all parties involved. It’s something that is a constant and if you’re not mindful, it can dictate how your relationship will unfold. For Alexis and Ted, they make a decision that still to this day brings me to tears thinking about. I’ll let you see for yourself and then we’ll wrap this post up…


Love is a Journey

To bring up the remaining points, “Ted is too willing to sideline himself” and “Alexis doesn’t think about the long term future,” how are these addressed in the end? If we think back to the second phase of their relationship, Ted was helping Alexis see the value in thinking about her future and in understanding the long term. We saw this as he encouraged her to graduate from high school and then continue into college. Because of this, Alexis learned to appreciate what actions like these enable her to do. So much like how Ted aided in Alexis’ growth as a character, Alexis encouraged Ted to follow his passions despite it what it meant for their relationship. She helps to push him out of the sidelines and towards his dream. That’s love in it’s simplest and purest form. To push your partner to be the best version of themselves as they push you to do the same; even if it pushes you apart. Not everyone will be able to such a thing for their partner and not only that, not every partner will want that, but here’s the thing: you must do it. Make the time together amount to something because every day brings you closer to something new and exciting, and in the end know that it’s not about the outcome, it’s about the journey.

Hats off to you, Alexis and Ted, may your ambitions come to life and your dreams come true.

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