By and large, the most "original" TV tends to be on cable, yes?* The shows with the craziest, grittiest characters--it's all Showtime, AMC, HBO, etc.
Yet, for as "groundbreaking" as some of these characters are, more often than not, they have a spouse who is overly suspicious and controlling.
(Mild spoilers ahead.)
I used to think it was just a Dexter phenomenon--Rita, who started out sweet and oddly noble, turned into a suspicious control freak sometime around season 2 and never let up. Honestly, the transition didn't make a ton of sense, and it always struck me as something that was done to drive the plot. (I imagine the meetings in the writer's room went like this: Dexter needs time alone to kill people, sooo ... let's make Rita think he's a drug addict and force him into Narcotics Anonymous! Let's make Rita the neediest pregnant lady ever! Let's make make Rita, a former single mother, completely incapable of driving herself to the pharmacy!)
And I like Dexter. I just found it odd that the go-to plot twist was always, "Let's make Rita as unlikeable as we can."
Same phenomenon now that I'm getting into Breaking Bad. About five episodes in, you have Walt (recently diagnosed with terminal cancer, he decides to use his skills as a chemistry teacher to cook meth as a way to leave a nest egg for his family after his death) acting slightly sketchy, and Skyler (his pregnant wife of 20-something years) acting like a hardened detective off the mean streets of New York.
Skyler's thought process: Oooh, Walt took a mysterious phone call and pretended it was a telemarketer! I know what I'll do, I'll *69 it, use a reverse phone directory to look up the owner, google the owner, find his MySpace page, look up his address, and go confront him.
OVER A PHONE CALL.
I debated this with a friend who thought Skyler's reaction was perfectly normal -- Walt was acting like a skeevy little deviant. I counter with, "Yes, but."
But she's been married to him for 20 years.
But she has a kid with him and another on the way.
But he's never given her a reason to be suspicious before.
But he's the most mild-mannered dork on the planet -- it's far more likely he's planning a surprise baby shower than anything nefarious.
So why now? Why turn suspicious and controlling now? You've obviously trusted him enough up until this point to marry him, stay with him, and have his babies. So why is a phone call suddenly so very problematic for you?
Oh, that's right. Because we need the plot to move forward.
The thing that is puzzling to me is that, fundamentally, Rita and Skyler (and Betty Draper from Mad Men and Lori Grimes from Walking Dead and Rick from The Killing and all the rest) are right. There is something horribly wrong with their significant other (serial killer, meth dealer, identity thief and serial philanderer, chronically emotionally closed off, chronically emotionally closed off and workaholic, respectively). But their suspicions, whatever they are, never really hit the mark. (Betty Draper comes closest, but I imagine she always thought Don had one mistress, maybe two--never mind a dozen, never mind a STOLEN IDENTITY.) And because of this, the Suspicious Spouse rarely has the audience's sympathy.
It kind of makes me want to watch Nurse Jackie, just to see if Nurse Jackie's husband thinks she's secretly running a Ponzi scheme or something.
Have you guys noticed this elsewhere? A character who should otherwise trust the main character, but for some unstated reason, does not? And if you have, do you think it worked anyway?
* I am not ripping on network TV. I love a lot of its programming, particularly Modern Family and Vampire Diaries. But we all have to admit, comparing Two and a Half Men to It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia just isn't fair to poor Jon Cryer. And let's not even start in on reality programming.