Office Romance – Why It Could Never Work: 5 Cautionary Tales From Popular TV Series


In this day and age, the majority of us is likely to spend the bulk of our time at work. Whether you work for a large organisation or a smaller one, it is likely that, spending so much time with a bunch of people with whom you share a number of activities, day in and day out, will lead to get to know your co – workers well enough for a romance to blossom. Depending on one’s personal circumstance, i.e. whether or not you are already in a relationship, however, getting involved with someone at the office is generally a bad idea and it could range from being flirtatious and innocent to downright dangerous and reckless. Sometimes, in spite of your better judgement, falling in love with someone at work, and acting on it, seems inevitable. But beware, it almost never ends well. Relationships in general are already so complicated, if you have survived your teens and high school crushes, and made it through college and are done experimenting, you are likely to know what you are looking for in a significant other, and you are likely to know yourself well enough to make an informed decision when it comes to pursuing someone with whom you have to work every day. Is it worth it? Would you pursue this person if you were somewhere else?

But if you find yourself in a situation where you look forward to the Mondays and you dread the Fridays, it might be a sign you have fallen for someone at the office.

Whether it is the guy in Merger and Acquisitions or the girl at the Private Banking branch, that you can’t get out of your head and find any possible excuse to set up a business brunch with, you may want to hold your horses and take a look at what happened to a few beloved characters who gave in to their office passion, only to regret it for the rest of their onscreen life.

Exhibit 1. Roz and Frasier in “Frasier”.

Roz and Frasier in Frasier IMDB image

Roz Doyle and Frasier Crane are co – workers at the fictional Seattle radio KACL. This classic 90s TV series ran for 11 seasons and it was very popular. Frasier and Roz worked together at the radio, where Frasier is the host of a talk show and Roz is his producer. They both have an eventful personal life outside of the radio and they often confide in each other. They develop a strong friendship throughout the years, however, at a particularly vulnerable time for the both of them, they give in to passion, only to realise they just might have jeopardised it all. It is fair to say that they did not pursue one another, and that most likely they never thought they could be in a romantic relationship with one another. Having said that, the “morning after” cringe, was real. Luckily in their case, talking honestly with one another and having a pre – existing relationship based on a strong, long lasting friendship, helped them deal with the panic and perhaps the shame of having succumbed to a moment of vulnerability. They talked it out and where back at KACL and in each other’s life in the nick of time. However you might not be so lucky, especially if you are not a psychiatrist (like Frasier is) and do not deal and fix this kind of situations for a living.

Exhibit 2. Alicia Florrick and Will Gardner in “The Good Wife”.

Will and Alicia in “The Split hits the fan” The Good Wife CBS

Will and Alicia are by far one of the most powerful example of an office romance gone from great love to sour and bitter to unavoidable tragedy, that should be included in induction seminar for all new hires at every company in the world. Will and Alicia work together at the law firm where he is a name partner and she is an associate lawyer (note the double trouble here, as she is also an underling). Will and Alicia have met many years before at Georgetown University, where they were Law school buddies. It is revealed in the course of several episodes that there was a spark between the two of them back then, but Alicia met her snotty husband who whisked her away only to publicly humiliate her, many years later, by being caught red handed with female companions for hire, half his and her age and accused of using public funds to pay for their services (he was the State Attorney). Anyway, after a series of missed opportunities and sabotage by other characters, Will and Alicia finally decide to act on their feelings and get a room at a hotel, the super expensive and exclusive penthouse ( how to explain that office expense?). Oh my – that elevator ride! It could have been a prelude to something great, all the fans hoped. But her teenage children, her politically ambitious straying husband and office politics get in their way. They put the romance on the back burner for a while, until there’s nothing but resentment. Nothing can be the same anymore, their dynamic is off. And when she leaves Will’s firm to start her own, it is the beginning of the downfall. Could an honest, heart and soul – bearing conversation have saved the situation for Will and Alicia like it did for Roz and Frasier? It is unlikely. When there is so much passion and love between two people and life gets in the way, and there seems to be no way to be with one another without upsetting so many loved ones in the process, the resentment is too high and there will be blood. So abstain at all cost, unless you are ready to move far, far away once things get ugly.

Exhibit 3. Saul Berenson and Allison Carr in Homeland.

Allison Carr and Saul Berenson in “The Litvinov Ruse” Homeland Showtime

Saul and Allison are colleagues at the CIA in Berlin. She is a beautiful and elegant woman, way out of his league; nevertheless, he does not seem to find it suspicious that she so eagerly wants to get involved with him. This is particularly silly as he is a veteran spy (they both are), her eagerness should have activated his spook’s radar; it failed him miserably instead. Of course it turns out that she is a double agent and getting into Saul’s skivvies is part of her job, a classic ploy used by spies to turn someone to their cause, worldwide. Once again, what looked like a blissful office romance turned ugly tragedy, and no one does revenge like a scorned CIA spook: Saul ambushes Allison while she is on her exfiltration route. She won’t be seen or heard from, anymore. So, beware of those hotties at the office who seem so eager to get to know you personally and so on. They might have an agenda that might destroy your reputation at the company. And you do not want to have to “pull a Saul” as that might lead to jail time, unless of course you work for the secret services et alia.

Exhibit 4. Emilie Rhodes and Aaron Shore in Designated Survivor.

Aaron Shore and Emilie Rhodes in “The Interrogation” Designated Survivor ABC

Designated Survivor might be a new addition to the numerous TV series and movies on conspiracies against the Washington political elite, however it has already made its mark on this list of exhibits to discourage office romance.  U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Tom Kirkman, was sworn in as the new President in the wake of a devastating bomb attack that basically eliminated the entire US Congress and Senate. As he becomes, almost reluctantly, the new Commander in Chief, he confirms his long standing collaborator Emilie Rhodes in his team, and appoints shady character Aaron Shore as his chief of staff (he previously was deputy chief of staff of the late President). Emilie and Aaron get to work side by side and in a short amount of time they move from simpatico to sharing a kiss. When a suspicion arises that the bomb attack might have been an inside job, President Kirkman tasks Emilie to fact – check a few anomalies and she rapidly becomes aware that Aaron might be involved in the conspiracy. Now, would you want to have to explain to your boss that you have found out who caused the massive problem at the office but that you are also involved with this person? This might undermine you beyond repair, so think long and hard before acting on any feelings, as you might risk your job and credibility in the process.

Exhibit 5. Jessica Pearson and Jeff Malone in Suits.

Jeff Malone and Jessica Pearson in “P.S.L.” Suits Getty Images

 Jessica Pearson is the managing partner of the law firm Pearson Spectre and Litt when Jeff enters the picture. A former prosecutor with the SEC, he becomes a senior partner at the firm, but there is a secret that Jessica cannot share with him which drives a wedge between them and he eventually leaves the job and her for good. Career driven Jessica, after things go south for her firm and as she is trying to revive it, has a personal crisis and, in a moment of clarity, decides to go back to Jeff and ask him if she can go away with him (to live and work in a different city). He accepts, and this might be the only silver lining. To be together, with no guarantee of success, they both have had to leave their jobs, their careers and even have to move to a different city.

Would you risk it all?

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