Rachel M – Associate Staff Writer
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about onscreen chemistry. Strange topic to spend time contemplating, but when you spend a lot of time watching TV, these things start to fill your brain even when you’re not glued to the tube.
I also have a confession to make. I’m a little bit obsessed with Supernatural. I watched the whole series this summer (then all the YouTube clips of gag reels and Comic Con) and then started again at the beginning. Scrumptious eye candy aside; I’m hooked on the bro-mance and onscreen chemistry of the lead actors Jensen Ackles (Dean) and Jared Padelecki (Sam).
The lore goes that creator Eric Kripke originally intended the show to focus on the monsters, and the brothers Winchester would be secondary, but when the cast was set, so was the fate of the show. And frankly, I’m not sure the show would have gotten past the first season if it were just about the monsters. The chemistry between these boys is palpable, and makes a show that’s pretty shallow totally obsessable. Anyway, after watching a lot of Supernatural (and now that we’re going into a sixth season I think it’s time the boys got some non-incestual hetero-romance), it got me thinking about other actors/characters who have made a show worth watching just by being great onscreen together.
Shawn (James Roday) and Gus (Dule Hill) from Psych spring to mind as another great guy team. They balance each other out, and their affection for each other off screen leaks into every scene. Gus makes Shawn likable, because otherwise he’s kind of a jerk, but we see Gus and his friendship with Shawn and we see something redeemable. Neil (Matthew Bomer) and Peter (Tim DeKay) of White Collar also share this trait. The stick in the mud Fed is made adorable by the criminal, which seems backwards, but it totally isn’t. Add Mozzie (Willie Garson) and you’ve got an amazing trifecta. There’s a yin and yang that is written in, but there’s something else. An “x” factor if you will. Male bonding and friendships on screen don’t always work, despite the best efforts of producers. I struggle to think of examples, you know why? Because those shows don’t last. If the chemistry isn’t right, or at least believable, viewers turn off.
Girl-mance seems harder to pinpoint for me (and in my review of shows to trigger my memory I found it even harder). Meredith (Ellen Pompeo) and Christina (Sandra Oh) have it on Grey’s Anatomy. And talk about two characters that need help! They are both so damaged that it would be easy for the audience is to give up on them. Instead, we wish for a friend who gets us like that. Glee’s Santana (Naya Rivera) and Brittany (Heather Morris) also seem to be a great example of girl on girl chemistry. So much so that I think their characters have gotten a lot more screen time than originally planned for what are basically background characters.
And what about couple’s chemistry? The list should be endless right? But when you think really hard about who was amazing onscreen together? Well I struggled, but maybe you won’t. Mal (Nathan Fillion) and Inara (Morena Baccarin) on Firefly never so much as hug, but the tension, oh the tension. This is in stark contrast to what I think is a dearth of chemistry on Castle between Nathan and Stana Katic. I just don’t buy it. I think Brennan (Emily Deschanel) and Booth (David Boreanz) have it on Bones. To the point where if they don’t hook up soon I’m going to personally strangle the writers, it’s just ridiculous at this point. I think couples chemistry has to be one of the hardest things to orchestrate for potential TV shows, and it has to be one of the most essential.
Chemistry between people is so hard to put a finger on. It’s a feeling you get, and everyone feels it differently. And you can’t fake it. We, the audience, are too clever for that anymore. It’s a testament to show that uses actors who have real chemistry to the advantage of the show because at the end of the day that’s what’s going to make or break a show, no matter how twisted or original the plot or how many special effects you throw in or how much skin you show. It’s about the people, we have to like them (or love to hate them) and we have to believe in them.
So, what do you think about chemistry? What couple have I overlooked? There are many I’m sure. Leave your TwoCents!