Romantic plotlines in sitcoms too often consume the show


Amanda Bynes (Holly) and Nick Zano (Vince) in The WB’s “What I Like About You”

Edwin J. Viera, Columnist

In many sitcoms, the idea of romance can be a central element of the plot, but oftentimes the romantic side can take over the entire show and distract from any of the other plots of the show. Though this can drive the conflict of a show, it takes away from that comical element of the show. In some instance the element of romance can often consume the entire show until it really is no longer a sitcom, by definition.

The effect of romance on sitcoms can change the entire course or plot of a sitcom. Some examples come from the sitcoms What I Like About You, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Young & Hungry, Just Shoot Me and Spin City. These shows are prime examples of romance or love consuming episodes, seasons or entire plots of a show.

Amanda Bynes is remembered for her years spent on two different Nickelodeon variety shows as a child. She started off on All That where many kids got their start and was spun off into her own show The Amanda Show. Once The Amanda Show finished she moved on to The WB in which she starred alongside Jennie Garth in What I Like About You.

Commonly called “WILAY,” this show was originally about two sisters having to live together after their father has to move to Japan for work. This show was called a sitcom, but it can only really be called that for the first season.

What I Like About You season one focuses on both sisters dealing with their conflicting personalities and lifestyles. Much of the first season is genuine situational comedy, and allowed for more to develop within the series. Seasons two through four, however, are about Amanda Bynes’s character Holly and her conflict over two guys she has feelings for.

In season one she starts dating a guy named Henry, but in season two she develops feelings for a new character Vince. Afterwards, she inadvertently blurts out Vince’s name while trying to say “I Love You, Henry.” After this, Henry slowly begins to get overprotective of her and decides to break up with her. This allows her to go after Vince, which also doesn’t work out because he cannot commit to one specific relationship.

Then at the end of season two she gets an internship that allows her to go to Paris and be a tour guide. She does this, but in the first episode of season three it is shown that she met a new guy in Europe named Ben Sheffield. He is a musician who Holly met while she was in England for a weekend.

Throughout the latter part of season three she begins to develop feelings for Vince, feelings that he has had for her all throughout season three. Throughout season four, Vince and Holly start dating, but during the latter half of season four Robin, a former flame of Vince’s makes a plan to get him to love her again.

Vince and Holly break up once again due to Vince believing Holly is jealous of his platonic relationship with Robin. In the series finale, he sees through Robyn’s deceit and he runs back to Holly in which they both end up together and start a relationship.



Life after Hannah Montana has been well for Emily Osment since she is now on a new sitcom called Young & Hungry. The plot for this show is about Gabi Diamond, a chef who gets a job as personal chef to Josh Kaminski. After they both get incredibly drunk on her first day they sleep together.

This drives the plot for the entire series as they both won’t admit their feelings for each other. Season five shows that they end up going through a casual sex relationship instead of actual commitment to each other. As the show progresses it remains to be seen what will come of them.

Sabrina the Teenage Witch is remembered for the spells and the mayhem. It had romance set aside for most of the show, until season four when Sabrina begins working at a coffee house with a college guy named Josh, as she becomes friendlier with him Harvey gets incredibly jealous. During season four Harvey and Sabrina break up, though she doesn’t date Josh until season six.

Harvey and Sabrina end up together in the season seven finale after he breaks up her wedding. Their relationship as a driving point for several seasons though it never topped some of the other plot points.

Just Shoot Me! which ran from 1997 to 2003 demonstrated possible chemistry between Maya and Elliott. In season one she has a sex dream about him in the episode, “In Your Dreams,” but it is revealed that she only had the dream because Elliot made her feel beautiful while taking her company ID photo.

In the season two episode, “The Kiss”, Elliot and Maya pretend to be husband and wife so he can get an apartment. After seeing the apartment, they end up kissing to fool the landlady, but kiss again out of potential feelings. They try to deny these feelings but then comes season four when Elliott starts dating someone with potential. Maya finally confronts her feelings about Elliott and they start dating in season five.

Elliot begins to want to commit to Maya, but doesn’t when he gets panic attacks after trying to ask Maya to marry him. Thus, their attraction ends here with no more coming of it. These characters ended up in their own decent relationships with their friendship being maintained.

Finally comes the romantic angle of Spin City. The romantic side of this comes from Michael J. Fox’s character falling for Connie Britton’s character Nikki Faber. Their relationship developed throughout season three, but fell apart in the first episode of season four when it is discovered he slept with his ex-girlfriend, Heidi Klum.

Season four introduced Heather Locklear’s character Caitlin Moore to the show, and saw Mike start falling for her. They end up dating and maintaining a long-distance relationship after his character left the show. Although, it is eventually revealed that they broke up with Mike coming back to New York to get married.

Romance and sitcoms often mix but it’s sometimes not for the greatest intentions. Though this brings out the dramatic side in sitcoms, it could make for poorly developed shows that are not heavy on the humor. This takes sitcoms and waters them down, turning them into comedy-dramas with a live studio audience or a decent laugh track.

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