Bones Theory

What’s in a Happy Ending?

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When I was about ten years old, I read Louisa May Alcott’s novel, Little Women, for the first (and I think only) time. Of the four March sisters, Jo, the book’s protagonist, was my favorite. I identified strongly with the gawky tomboy who had a love for writing and a close friendship with the neighbor boy, Laurie. I eagerly turned page after page, completely captivated by the story until…Laurie proposed to Jo…and she turned him down. My ten-year old heart was, as Brennan would say, crushed. I held out hope that Jo would one day come to her senses, agree to marry Laurie, and live happily ever after until the sad, bitter end. And so I was devastated when Laurie fell in love with and eventually married Jo’s beautiful, spoiled younger sister, Amy. I’m not sure I ever forgave Ms. Alcott for that transgression.

I was sixteen when the most recent movie version, starring Winona Ryder as Jo, came out in 1994. Yes, it was insanity, thinking that anything…the story or my reaction to it, would have changed…but like Booth, I went into it hoping for a different outcome. It was worse. Much worse. Watching Jo reject Laurie was ten times worse than reading about it. After that I think I swore off Little Women forever.

Even today I am bothered by this story that, for me, ended so tragically. It’s been more than twenty years since I read Little Women, and yet I still can’t bring myself to want to read it again because I know that nothing has changed. After all, a story, once told, cannot be untold. Jo will still say no. Laurie will still marry Amy. And I will be devastated today just as surely as I was at ten, and again at sixteen.

But Little Women is a much-loved children’s book. So there must be people out there who accept that Amy and Laurie belonged together and that Jo married the right man (the professor); people whose perceptions were not forever tarnished by their own silly fantasies. People who understand that not all happy endings look the same. That happiness is partly a matter of perception. What some people love, others simply don’t. But that it’s also a matter of choosing to look past the moments that break our hearts in order to focus on the moments we tend to overlook.

For example, I was thirteen when I first read Gone with the Wind. For two straight weeks during the school year I read every spare moment and far into the night until I finished all 900+ pages.  I’m pretty sure I cried when Rhett Butler, rogue that he was, walked out that door for what I knew was the last time. It didn’t matter that Scarlett was selfish and mean and that she had spent her entire adult life loving another man. I cried. I cried because it was a love story and love stories are supposed to have happy endings, right?

What I tend to forget is that the story didn’t end there. The story ended with Scarlett’s realization that, “tomorrow is another day.” It ended with her resolution to return to Tara – the one constant in her life. And if the prospect of returning to the one thing she loved more than life itself didn’t bring happiness, at the very least, it brought hope. And for some, that’s enough. (For the sake of full disclosure, I have read, and very much enjoyed Alexandra Ripley’s sequel, Scarlett).  

Sometimes I wonder if, in this age of instant gratification, we have been trained to demand the Disney ending (from sad to happily ever after in ninety minutes or less) to everything. Hans Christian Anderson penned the original story of The Little Mermaid, and yet his version is nothing like the Disney classic. In Anderson’s version, the little mermaid doesn’t win her prince. In this story there are no singing crabs, talking seagulls, or avenging ocean wildlife that swoop in and save the day. The day her beloved prince marries another, the little mermaid, unable to take his life in order to save her own, throws herself into the ocean and turns to foam. Sounds depressing, right? I read my copy, an adaptation for children that I have had and loved since I was young, to my five-year for the first time about a month ago. I cried as I read the ending. And then I noticed something that I had never noticed before:  even in death, the little mermaid didn’t lose everything.

You see, the little mermaid wanted two things more than anything:  the prince and a soul. The story tells us that only humans have souls and the only way the little mermaid could obtain one was to marry a human. When the little mermaid lost her prince, she thought she lost not only her life, but her only shot at a soul as well. But, as it turned out, Mr. Anderson believed in second chances. When daylight came, the little mermaid, now a spirit of the air, discovered that she had been given the opportunity to, “fly to hot countries and bring cool breezes,” to “bring peace and happiness” and in so doing, to win a soul. For years I had focused on the tragedy of lost love and as a result, missed the point entirely.

So what does any of this have to do with Bones? Just this. Is it possible that we are so tightly wrapped up in our own silly fantasies, our own perceptions of the way the story should be told, that we are missing the beauty in the way the story is being told? Are we so convinced that we know the way Booth and Brennan’s story should play out that we’ve lost our ability to just sit back and enjoy the journey?

So Brennan rejected Booth. 

But she held on so very tightly as they walked away.

Why? Because she was cruel…or because the act of saying no broke her heart more than she was willing to admit?

So Booth rejected Brennan. 

But he had just followed her to a bad part of town in the middle of the night.

Why? Because it was his job…or because she still matters more to him than even he is willing to admit?

Pardon the pun, but Bones…it has good bones. No matter how shaky it seems at the moment, the story is built on a solid foundation. And we all know that story isn’t over yet – not by a long shot. You see, I wouldn’t have been so affected by Jo’s decisions in Little Women if I hadn’t been so completely invested in the story. It was precisely Ms. Alcott’s skill as a storyteller that sparked my irrational response to her book. That we are so affected by the current storyline on Bones is proof, in my opinion, of how very completely we have been drawn into the lives of the characters. And that, my friends, is good storytelling.

So what do you think? Am I on to something or have I been drinking a little too much of Hart Hanson’s Kool-Aid? What’s your definition of a happy ending? Are there any books or movies that you thought had particularly troublesome endings? Let’s discuss!

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41 thoughts on “What’s in a Happy Ending?

  1. I have never read “Little Women; but, I have read “Gone With The Wind” and I must say I took the ending of “Gone With The Wind” a little diffrently. I will admit up front I adored Brett so when he freed himself from a loveless marriage I was happy for him and actually happy for Scarlett. I thought that this would be a good thing for both of them.
    I have not been happy with this season; but, I have watched every episode, watching and waiting. I want Booth and Brennan to be together; but, I am willing to see the story unfold at the pace that the writers are going at. I love to read very long book, the longer the better, so I am use to waiting for a very long story line to complete before the payoff. That is the joy of the story. I don’t like short stories and I would hate for Bones to take a shortcut with this story.
    We need that long tale to set up the love story that we know Booth and Brennan are. Booth and Brennan need to work through the problems that have plagued them since childhood. They have to be able to see for themselves that each is the soul mate of the other. No amount of pushing by others is going to shortcut that. Sure it would be nice if the writers would just put them together; but, I am enjoying the story more because Booth and Brennan are slowing evolving into a couple that will eventually complete each other. When they truly complement each other then this whole journey will seem very romantic.

  2. You know, when I read “Little Women,” I wanted Jo and Laurie to be happy, but I really didn’t want them to end up together. Mostly because it would simply be them arguing all the time, and, as a hopeless romantic, I assumed that it would only wind them up into divorce. (My eleven-year-old self was an interesting character, not realizing that divorce was almost unheard of in civil war time.) I adored that book and read it three times, but i realize how other people might not. My high school performed “Once on This Island” last year, a play based off of “The Little Mermaid.” I know how awful unhappy endings are. So, stuck, it seemed to me like Booth and Brennan added to the unhappy ending that was last years’ musical in addition to some rather terrible movies that I was dragged to see by my mom. Anyway, I’d lost a lot of faith in the B&B relationship. Not the tension between them, but the possibility of them even ending up together. I love what you did with this post. It really brought me to a new perspective on the show, and I really needed that. Booth and Brennan now are tied for the top spot in my mental list of favorite TV couples, the other having taken the spot in the time I was angry at the Bones storylines. Thank you!

  3. Your article is spot on in my opinion. We are so accustomed to having our happily ever after handed to us on a silver platter that we fall apart when its arrival is a minute delayed. I believe this age of social networking has also allowed us to begin voicing our opinions as though they were fact. “If I think the happy ending should happen this way at this time, then it should.” The thing about life is that it doesn’t always happen the way we want it to or when we want it to. As fictional as the Bones world is, it’s still a story about life…but that’s all it is…a story. It’s fiction. It’s following a pattern that has been written about forever. (Granted, I happen to think it’s following that pattern in a very creative way and its characters have drawn me completely into their world.) We have the guarantee of Booth and Brennan ending up together. HH has reiterated this multiple times. Life isn’t like that. We don’t have guarantees. Ever. So sit back and enjoy this ride…cause this is one time we know we’re getting our happy ending…no matter how long it takes.

  4. “That we are so affected by the current storyline on Bones is proof, in my opinion, of how very completely we have been drawn into the lives of the characters. And that, my friends, is good storytelling.”

    It’s the great story telling that keeps me coming back. I would love there to be a “happy ending” but I’m old enough to recognize that real life doesn’t look like Disney. The optimist in me believes this story will end happily and even more so because of the storms these two have weathered together.

  5. You’re right…totally. There are no guarantees of happy endings out there. Real life is full of lost loves, only to find a new love that we thought previously would be impossible…I’m sure we all have stories like that…and your ‘Little Women’ example was perfect. Because I, too, was heartbroken for Jo and Laurie…but Louisa May Alcott convinced me that in the end they were not meant for each other. It’s possible that HH could do the same thing to us – although I’m counting on the fact that since this is network television they WILL eventually get B/B together. But I don’t discount the possibility that it could end differently…and if that happens, then HH’s challenge will be to see if he can convince us all that it is for the best, because that would be VERY difficult to do 🙂

  6. I can’t say that I know how this story will end. In my mind, I can see several different ways it can go… for a ‘good’ ending. But you know, I’m not the writers or the creator of the show. I’m an outside viewer looking in. I don’t have say. Just like in real life. So I’m going to sit back and enjoy every bump and twisty turn. Because that’s life and that’s all you can do. And I can’t wait for the ending but I’m not going to try and force it before its time.

    Anyway, great post!

  7. I am perfectly content to watch this story continue to develop. I trust that the creators and producers who formed these characters and had the skill to make us love them as we do, will dream up and write an ending we all adore. I am counting on it! I don’t like the Hannah character, but I don’t mind that B & B aren’t together yet. I enjoy the drama. 🙂

  8. For me, I think what would more of a happy ending than them just getting together, is each of them facing their personal issues that have plagued them through life and dealing/overcoming with them. To me, this is one area in which BONES really is different from a lot of TV shows and movies. Over and over again (talking about TV still), we see two people who are attracted to each other and assume that the next step is to get together, ignoring the emotional baggage that each person carries. And over and over again, we see these same people who were so “head over the heels” in love break up. Was the love ever really there? Did it fade in the presence of the reality of who each person really is? Was it enough to keep fighting for and stay committed even if going through a rocky phase? I think that’s why a lot of movies (maybe just those of the Disney and chick flick type?) end with people finally getting together, when it’s a lot harder to show people staying together. The couple will inevitably face obstacles getting together, but then all of a sudden, “love conquers all” and they conveniently forget all their issues and live happily ever after. I often question whether romantic love is enough because I believe those issues really don’t go away.

    Brennan is stubborn, but Booth is great at being in denial, too. We know something about their histories, and know they have emotional baggage. If B&B had gotten their roll in the hay, where would that have left them? Brennan has already come face to face with herself. If Booth can do the same, that will be great, and give us more reason to hope for a happy ending between these two.

    I often ask myself whether I really want these two together. I decided to ship them because, heck, it’s just TV and they are fictional characters, why not. But in evaluating their relationship, I do see a lot between them that suggests they can have a lasting relationship. Love, mutual respect and admiration, understanding, loyalty, friendship are all there. They know what’s so awesome about the other person. What’s missing is their own self-worth. It will be needed to fight for what they want for themselves and what they can have together. Fortunately, it seems like we are entering that stage now, and I am holding my breath in anticipation.

  9. Many of the stories that are famous today in their disneyfied version actually ended bad in the original version. I once read the Hunchback of the Notre Dame (after seeing the Disney film) and was a bit shocked when it ended with Frodo and Esmeralda getting betrayed and dying horribly.
    I know an ending doesn’t have to be good or sugary sweet to be satisfying, but the thing is, I don’t want a good “ending”. I don’t want Booth and Brennan to fall into eachothers arms, and have “The End” appear on my screen in big letters. I want só much more.
    I want to see Brennan learn how to be in a steady relationship (without her magically losing her charming cluelessness about some things), and I want to see Booth learning to balance being a/her superhero with giving her space to be the weirdo that she is.

    But most importantly, I want the story of how they get there to be awesome. I would be so dissapointed if the show would just slap them together and call it a wrap.
    I remember (back when I was a big Gilmore Girls fan) when Luke and Lorelai got together, they sort of took one episode to “celebrate” that, and then moved on like barely anything had changed and broke them up for some incredibly stupid reason later. I remember fans comments going WTF! They just put them together, and said “here you have what you want” and then moved on. It was almost anticlimactic. Maybe those writers were so afraid of the so called ‘Moonlighting curse’ that they were scared to make that hookup a big deal. (by the way, if you google “Moonlighting curse” you mostly get Bones-related hits)
    My point is, I hope when/if Brennan and Booth ever get together, It’s going to be big and beautiful, but not the end. Because I’d rather see them happy with other partners then get a quick fixup only to have them break up again a bit later. I want Bones to be the show that gets it right.
    So Im prepared to wait.

  10. I drove in to work this morning wondering if I should respond to this, and how. You’ve said some really great things here, things I absolutely am in line with. 🙂 But there’s a bit of context I think I can offer (which is where I’m hesitating.)

    First, I like the title of your post because I think it reminds us that we all have different views of what a happy ending is, both generally and specifically to Bones. For example, if Booth and Brennan wind up as best friends, but both happily married (or in long term relationships) to other people…would that be a happy ending? If the characters themselves are happy (as Jo and Laurie were) shouldn’t that count as a happy ending? And yet, I suspect most of us wouldn’t see a scenario where Booth and Brennan don’t wind up together romantically as a happy ending, no matter how happy they’re portrayed as being.

    But the second thing I want to comment on is the importance of genres and expectations. Romance is a genre, with genre conventions (like mystery, etc.) But not every story with a romance in it is in that genre. For example – Nicholas Sparks does not write romances. (That’s according to him, btw. He can actually get quite snarky about it.) He tells ‘relationship stories’ and makes no effort to follow the conventions of the romance genre.

    Romances, in that genre sense, are primarily about the romantic relationship of two people – the story is about them. It may well have additional subplots involving other people, or may blend elements from another genre (i.e., romantic suspense novels always involve a mystery or physical threat to the couple) but the main plot is the romance. And – this is important – it always ends with an HEA (happily ever after.) That’s one reason Sparks doesn’t write romances – his stories don’t always end with the couple in a committed relationship. The truth is, he doesn’t write romances, because his books don’t meet all those genre conventions. (There are more of those conventions than just the HEA, but that’s the major one in this discussion.)

    Neither Little Women nor Gone with the Wind are romances in the genre sense, though both have romances in them. I’d consider Little Women a family drama, and Gone with the Wind an historical novel. But they’re not romances.

    When I read something, I’m generally aware of the genre, and allow it to guide my expectations. If I read a ‘relationship novel’ – i.e., Sparks – I know I may or may not get my happy ending. Ditto with family dramas, historical novels, and everything else. But when I read a romance, something marketed or described as a romance, I assume it will follow the conventions of romance. I expect a happy ending, in other words. And if I don’t get it, I feel betrayed.

    Why does that matter? Because Hart has described his story as a ‘romantic comedy’ which is one of those subgenres of romance, and from a lot of other things he’s said, I think he’s quite aware of genre conventions. I’m expecting an HEA from him, and if I don’t get it, I’ll feel betrayed – even if Booth and Brennan are perfectly happy with other people.

    But this is where I veer back to a full endorsement of what you were saying. If the genre that Hart’s said he’s writing in assumes an HEA for the couple, that means that we have every right to expect to see Booth and Brennan together, in a committed a relationship, by the end of the show. Given that, why does it seem to be so hard for people to sit back and enjoy the ride? I feel like Hart has said as explicitly as possible, over and over again, in a variety of ways and places, that Booth and Brennan will be together in the end. So no matter what obstacles they encounter or how slow their growth toward one another is, we should be able to just enjoy the journey, assured our eventual arrival at the place we want to be.

    The journey itself is the story, and one worth watching. Are they apart right now? Yes. But even when things are this tense and angsty, we see their love for one another – hers for him as she tells Hannah to ‘be sure,’ and his for her as he follows her around in the middle of the night to guarantee her safety. Why isn’t that worth watching, particularly when we’ve been told the story ends the way many of us want it to?

    • I agree. In real life, we have no idea how things are going to turn out. But HH is pretty much in charge of the situation here, and he believes that they are in love and he wants them together eventually. I believe he has a plan because there are so many significant moments – easily momentous ones and those that didn’t seem so significant at the time.

      I admit this may not pertain to this post, but it’s an event that’s stuck in my head (and I didn’t know where else to post it). When Booth was in his therapy session with Gordon Gordon the first time around (and Brennan went down to Florida and worked with Sully), Booth thought Gordon’s evaluation was leading to the conclusion that he can’t let go of the women in his life, which Booth said rather flippantly. It could be just me, but doesn’t it sound true? He went back to Rebecca, he and Cam were (briefly) “together” again, and we all know he hasn’t really moved on from Brennan. He seems pretty stuck on Hannah, so should I be apprehensive of how it will affect him even if they do break up? Hopefully not. I like to think of Brennan as being a unique exception.

    • Hi rynogeny. Thanks for your comments. As always, they were enlightening. 🙂 I understand what you’re saying about genre and expected literary conventions and it makes complete sense. For me though, it’s not something I usually consider when I’m reading a book or watching a television show or movie (or when I choose what to read or watch). I’m much more interested in my emotional response and in many ways I judge how good something is based on the intensity of my response, good or bad. I guess what I’m trying to say is that even if I had gone into Little Women or Gone with the Wind expecting that the ending wouldn’t be what I wanted, it still wouldn’t have prevented my emotional involvement – and that’s kind of the root of my struggle.

      I struggle with Bones sometimes for the very same reason (I’m too close to the characters emotionally). For example, I’ve learned that I need to take some time to think through new episodes, to hopefully ride out the emotional response enough to look at what happened objectively, before I respond to Sarah’s GMMR reviews. Things sometimes look different in the light of the day than they do in the middle of the night.

      As I was thinking through this post in my head before I wrote it, I actually considered the possibility of reading Little Women again to see if my response to it has changed with time and maturity. Ironically, when I sat down to actually write and started feeling those emotions again, I realized that I didn’t want to, that I was too afraid of what I would discover. I guess I haven’t evolved as much as I had thought. 🙂

      Anyway, thanks for your observations. And thanks for bringing up Nicholas Sparks. A Walk to Remember is probably on my all-time favorite books list. And I love The Notebook and The Wedding. However, I gave up on his regular “relationship stories” (*cough* traditional romance novels *cough, cough*) a long time ago because it seemed like the stories were all the same, only the names had changed.

      • “You see, I wouldn’t have been so affected by Jo’s decisions in Little Women if I hadn’t been so completely invested in the story. It was precisely Ms. Alcott’s skill as a storyteller that sparked my irrational response to her book. That we are so affected by the current storyline on Bones is proof, in my opinion, of how very completely we have been drawn into the lives of the characters. And that, my friends, is good storytelling.”

        I agree completely. And if you are willing to acknowledge Ms. Alcott’s skill as a storyteller, you might want to dip into Little Men (and Jo’s Boys) to see what their “happily ever afters” looked like. To my recollection (it has been a few years!) it felt very organic–in a very Victorian lit kind of way–and there were new stories to get invested in. As with so much in the real world, if we are willing to give a little time to the grief or to acknowledge the setbacks, eventually more “Life” (with a capital L) comes along to take over and help us move on.

  11. A very interesting and thought-provoking article and I couldn’t agree more on your point about us being so affected by the current storyline – the very fact that we ARE all so invested in the series is indeed proof of good storytelling. If the storytelling had been bad we’d have given up a long time ago. In a way fanfiction is also to blame because we all go off to fanfiction land and find lots of happy endings and then we get disgruntled because the show hasn’t gone that way (yet). (Not that I’m knocking fanfiction – I spend many a happy hour reading wonderful stories by incredibly talented people.)
    I too read Little Women and adored it. I guess, thinking back, that ultimately I accepted everything that the author put her characters through because it was her story and she knew her characters best although I didn’t necessarily like some of the things that happened (Beth’s illness and death was one that hit very hard for me), but I still remember the book with great affection. As you said it’s a matter of perception.
    Life isn’t all about ‘sunshine and lollipops’ and if we only ever watched and read happy stories we’d be bored witless (well, I would be anyway). Booth and Bones are living real lives (well you know what I mean) and things, both good and bad, happen to them. It’s what makes us relate to and identify with them. This current storyline is a monumental study in irony, in my opinion.
    Getting back to the theory that the writers are indeed so good that they have pulled us in and ‘trapped’ us into this world of Bones I think it’s true and personally I’m willing to stay till the end, on the basis of that criterion – they know what they’re doing.

  12. The analogy to Gone with the Wind is an excellent one. Because while the book doesn’t end happily, it does end on a note of optimistic possibility. Scarlett picks herself up off the floor, says tomorrow is another day, and–more importantly, in my opinion–says that there was never a man she couldn’t get if she put her mind to it. So when she says she’ll get Rhett back, I totally, 100%, believe her. And that’s all I need–possibility. I don’t need to see the happy ending, per se, I just need to know that it’s possible.

    And I think that’s what the fans need, even if it’s not what they think they want: Possibility. Just the idea that B&B could get together at any moment is what keeps a lot of people (myself included) interested and invested in the show. And I think that’s what’s got fans so upset this season. In seasons past, there’s always been the possibility of B&B. But now, with Hannah, that possibility seems severely diminished. It’s hard for your heart not to be crushed when it seems like with every episode, that possibility is slipping further and further away as Booth becomes more and more invested in Hannah.

    I think that’s why DitP affected me so much; made me fall in love with the show all over again. Because the possibility was back. I saw the way they looked in the SUV. There is possibility again, even if the characters don’t know it. And for now, that’s all I need. I know that these characters will end up happily ever after. It’s TV. TV rarely has unhappy endings, and that’s why I love it. I know B&B will end up together, and now that I have possibility again, I can enjoy the ride.

  13. Firstly, I just have to say I loved Little Women but was always really disappointed that Jo turned down Laurie and went off with that old man professor. I mean he had a beard – my young self did not find that concept at all appealing for a start!

    I agree with the sentiments in your article. We will have our happy ending, Bones is not going to marry a professor type and Booth is not going to marry Hannah. Everything happens eventually!

    Maybe I would be more frustrated if I had watched from day 1 but I am one of those DVD catch up types so I have only being watching live since series 4. I knew they weren’t together so I was comfortable with the pace of the journey and enjoyed all the little moments between them.

    I was even one of those people who loved the 100th episode – I thought it was a brave move and their reactions were honest – he couldn’t bottle it in any longer and she wasn’t ready. The episodes after that were a bit deflating but I had high hopes for the finale. That was the first time I found myself shouting at the tv – “One of you has to stop the other from leaving! This is crazy – a year?” And then at the airport – “That’s it? Not even a hug, a kiss? Really…!? ARGHHH”!

    However, when I took a step back I thought fair enough – drama is meant to surprise and frustrate you. I only switch off if am bored. I even went into season 6 with high hopes for the girlfriend storyline – I thought it was the wake up call Bones needed.

    I have been a little frustrated with season 6 and I don’t think the various hiatuses have helped – they have given me (and everyone else it seems) too much time to dwell on Booth’s apparent 360 and lack of B&B development.

    I also think the way that the Hannah storyline has played out hasn’t helped. I do not find Hannah at all engaging and I am not sure if it is the writing or KW’s acting. I actually liked Sully and Rebecca and what they brought to the show. The actors had charisma and there was chemistry between the characters – I just don’t get that with Hannah and Booth, I don’t buy her as a character or their relationship. It’s a shame – because I think it could have worked so much better.

    Anyway, I thought that the Doctor in the Photo was much more like it and I saw Booth struggle in that car – even if only in his facial expressions and tone, rather than his words. I am quietly optimistic that we will see some real development in the upcoming episodes, that we will get some more of those classic B&B moments we all love.

    Thanks for the great post.

    • I’m not sure what I want to see from the Hannah angle. It is hard to take her seriously to buy the relationship between Booth and her. But I try to give her some credit. We didn’t get to see her character develop, so it’s really hard to compare with the others in S6. Furthermore, I don’t want the writers to take up time to show me how she got to where she is, I’d rather take it at face value. So I’d rather hear a conversation from her saying “I did this…I did that…” than to watch segments in her life to validate her as a successful, independent, strong woman. And you have to admit, she does sound good on paper. She was happy with Booth and wasn’t afraid to admit it, and she likes to make him happy. And how many women would be accepting of their boyfriend working closely with another woman? My only problem with Hannah is that she doesn’t really seem to have any, especially in contrast to Booth having a lot. She’s kind of like vanilla ice cream to me – good, but plain, and available almost anywhere. Brennan is far more surprising and interesting and nowhere close to vanilla. 🙂

  14. There are so many things I want to say right now! This post says a lot of what I’ve been saying since the 100th episode – “Bones” is a story (a very well-written one, I might add), and it isn’t over yet. One day, the show will say farewell, and no new episodes will be produced. And I will cry. Let’s face it, I get upset when I’m watching a new episode and realize there are only 15 minutes left! I don’t know how the series will end, and I don’t know what will happen between now and then. I don’t want to know. I just want to sit on my sofa every Thursday night, laughing, gasping, cheering, holding my breath, tearing up, then rewinding, and watching the best parts over again.

    I yell at people on Twitter (yes, I know they can’t hear me) when they say things like, “What’s wrong with that show that that Bones chick and that FBI dude aren’t together yet?” What’s wrong with it? Nothing is wrong with it! “Bones” is a show that actually gets it right. The character development is strong, the comedy is clever and genuinely funny, the science is smart and engaging, the writing is superb. Is there an occasional miss? Of course. I haven’t drunk that much of the Kool-Aid! But it’s a fantastic show, and I would give it Emmys and Golden Globes if I could. Obviously, I can’t, so I read and comment at Bones Theory instead. 😉

    I said in a recent comment that I’ve only been watching “Bones” for about two years, and I caught up on the earlier seasons very quickly. Well, starting in the next couple of days, I’m going back and watching the series from the beginning. Why? To give the story itself the time and attention it deserves.

    And to answer your question – my definition of a happy ending (as far as this series is concerned) does involve Brennan and Booth loving one another freely and completely. But I will only be happy if the journey was worthwhile.

  15. It may not be PC to say it, but I definitely love my happy endings. I will even admit that I can’t refrain from peeking at the very end of a book or reading the spoilers for a movie if things look iffy. For me if there is total desolation at the end with little by way of possibility, I most likely will not be viewing or reading the offending form of entertainment. I guess it’s because despite viewing myself as being somewhat cynical in nature, I am truly an eternal optimist at heart (which may be why I like Booth so much, amongst other reasons…) That being said, like Rynogeny I definitely rely on the category before deciding if I can take the unhappy ending. For murder mysteries or historical drama, I don’t mind so much. For something I consider a romance, I definitely do. No weepy romances for me-I can always read the newspapter for that. Angst, obstacles, misunderstandings are all fine; my favorite book after all is Pride and Prejudice, which has enough of these listed plot points to fuel countless mini-series and movies. But love has to triumph in the end.

    So, is Bones a romance? I choose to see it that way which means that unfortunately I have a whole set of expectations for the poor show, expectations which invariably include a HEA. Not right away, mind you. Not even six years in the making, but somewhere in the near future and accompanied by a decent amount of PDA-unlike the kiss we never got between Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy (in the book, anway). To lump Bones under the romance category all I had to do was look at Brennan and Booth interacting with each other: it just screamed the R word. This, and all the foreshadowing that we’ve gotten over the years from the powers that be: “everything happens eventually,” “there is someone for everyone,” “he knows the truth of you”, the coma dream, Plato and soulmates, “we are the center,” “I knew,” “there’s nothing I wouldn’t do for him” etc. The superb acting and all the dropped hints have created expectations in me which include the requisite happy ending. And boy, am I going to be mad if I don’t get it. I’m stiill upset over Angel and Buffy; had they gotten together, even at the end, it would have made the prospect of buying the DVDs or rewatching the series on reruns more palatable. Conversely, I was overjoyed when Pacey got the girl in Dawson’s Creek even if it was just at the end and also when Lois and Clark eventually got married in the 90’s show. I know it isn’t fair to burden a show like that, but I can’t help it. So I can take Hannah and her lingerie for a while longer if it means that Booth and Brennan will get to live the coma dream for real. And like Botjes above, I want them to stay together, not go back and forth.

    For now, I’m definitely content and enjoying the journey. Patience after all is a virtue. Character development continues to be wonderfully nuanced and realistic in my opinion. And I love that Bones doesn’t follow the cookie cutter form of almost every show on a major network despite what it may have started out to be. Any other program of this nature would have had the two main characters in and out of bed several times by now. But Gossip Girl and CSI this isn’t, and I for one am glad for the complex story lines and the character integrity that Bones provides. But I still want my HEA, eventually.

  16. In my mind, a happy end to the series would be for both Booth and Brennan to be, well, happy. It’s so simplistic, but that’s really my criterion. I’d be okay in knowing they’re satisfied with their professional and personal lives, whether or not they get together. And of course, I want to see them as a couple. It seems like it would be such a waste if they didn’t, given what we’ve been shown as far as the effects they’ve had on each other and moments shared. Before season 6, I would have said that their getting together was inevitable, but now it seems like the point of season 6 is to show that maybe it will be okay if they’re not romantically involved? Maybe? Booth seems content in his relationship with Hannah, and after the car scene in The Doctor in the Photo, Brennan says she can/will adapt. Brennan’s my favorite so I took that as a positive thing.

    Watching 6 season has been heartbreaking, to the part of me that wants Booth and Brennan together. I am glad that both have admitted their feelings and will look forward to seeing where that leads. Thanks for such a great post!

  17. Excellent point…

    I also believe that if this story line was the end game….It would be the end….but we are somewhere in the middle. It hurts and I do think it is because we are so invested in who they are….

    I just hope we don’t get a Little Women or Gone with the Wind ending.

  18. I think you’ve hit the nail on the head here 😀

    How you view a happy ending is all in the perceptions you have. Some people want the happy ending to be immediate…no bumps in the road, they just want to skip to the end. ‘These two people belong together, so why the hell aren’t they’ kind of mentality.

    Others are as interested in the journey as they are in the ending. It took me a while to get there, but now i am thoroughly enjoying the journey HH and Co are taking us on. It’s not an easy ride, people were hurt (and will continue to be hurt), tears were shed….but it makes the eventual Happy Ending that much better.

    You appreciate things that much more when you’ve had to fight for them.

  19. One of the things I applaud HH for is not having an on again off again between B and B. They have a very deep friendship that is rock solid. It may be struggling right now but it is still there. On again off again would kill me and kill the journey. So while we may have to wait a bit longer before we get there, I do think when we get there we will really be there!

  20. thanks for another great thought-provoking post! I am not a literary genius but I enjoy the discussion. I appreciate this show partially because I think it is more than a romance even though that’s the largest part of it. It is not just about B&B but about all of society and how we live our lives. I am enjoying the journey — especially after watching the season 6 eps over again. The first time I was just looking for a quick break with Hannah and the second time around I am watching for the character development and angst knowing that this is something they must go through to get to their happily ever after.

  21. You have been drinking too much of HH’s Kool Aid. ;-D I remain astonished at the extent to which we are willing to justify what HH does even when it is upsetting us.

    I’m sorry, I can wait, but if I don’t get the traditional happy ending, I will have wasted a lot of time and emotion. And, at this point what bothers me the most is I don’t trust anything that HH, et al. say any more. As a result, I question whether they will give us that happy ending. And, by happy ending, I mean only one thing: Booth and Brennan happy together as a couple. Period! Anything else is not a happy ending to me.

    The point is: the journey can get so long and convoluted that you lose hope that you will get there. The journey can become so draining that you lose the hope and energy to get there. Net net, you give up and quit the journey. And, that is where I am getting because I’ve lost hope. And, DitP didn’t help much because I can see Brennan closing herself off now so completely that even Booth will no longer be able to get through to her. And, if the series didn’t have to continue, I could see Brennan running away forever.

    For me it’s gotten nearly impossible to believe in everything happening eventually.

    That is all.

  22. I love this post! Such a great point. I never read Little Women or Gone With The Wind so I can only truly relate to the Disney story. I loved the part where you talked about how the Little Mermaid had a happy ending in it’s own way. It relates to how I felt after watching tDitp. She didn’t get Booth, but she evolved as a person to an entirely new level of conscious. I found that beautiful in itself. Watching her go through that relating to her the way I do was incredibly inspiring. ‘

    Like all romance stories, Booth and Bones will get together eventually, but I think demanding a happy ending cheapens the show. The effect that these characters have on each other, the way they force each other to grow, is way more meaningful than a typical romance story.

    I adore Hart Hanson for resisting the urge to please the crowd and instead creating a story with true depth. Not that I won’t I won’t jump up and down gleefully once I see a happy ending.

  23. I’ve never dared say this in a post because to do so would strike dread and perhaps anger in the hearts of some Bones fans, but I grew up watching what I consider to be some of the greatest romantic movies ever…Love Story, The Way We Were, Dr. Zhivago…even Gone with the Wind…and none of these, including Gone with the Wind IMO despite Scarlett’s last optimistic comment, had happy endings. But, I absolutely love them and consider them to be epic love stories. Not having a happy ending didn’t diminish my enjoyment of these movies. Today, I probably wouldn’t be able to tell you of a movie in the last 20 years that I consider to be as great as these. Right now…I can’t name them. So…my favorite movies/stories have been without happy endings. What does that say about me or rather about storytelling in the last 15-20 years since you don’t see these type stories anymore??????

    I think that’s one reason people are so impatient with Bones…because they’ve grown up with the, as you said, Disney happily ever after romantic story. I didn’t…so a part of me won’t be surprised if we don’t get it. Having said this…in this story…I want them together…or at the very least…I want them to attempt to be together. I want to see them acknowledge that they are in love to each other and attempt to have a relationship. Why? Because HH teased us with getting us there and yet…there’s been absolutely nothing concrete to show this type of relationship between the two of them. I want them to have their moment together because if I don’t see it…I will feel cheated. They have had moments where one or the other wasn’t ready for a relationship and this mis-step in timing has frustrated me and a lot of fans. So, I feel…I hope that the NEXT time they will be on the same page…and if they aren’t, I know I won’t be completely happy….because the teasing and promise of “something” didn’t come to fruition. In the movies I referenced above…all of them had their moments…but circumstances split them apart. However, at the very least…they had their moments and because of this I was able to enjoy them. Not giving Booth and Brennan their “moment” would…well you know…not a good thing in my mind…

  24. I’m so glad someone else finally said it. Let’s all just sit back, relax and enjoy the ride. TV is supposed to be fun after all.

  25. Thanks for all the fantastic responses everyone! BT makes the breaks between new episodes so much more bearable in my opinion. I’m not sure if it’s exactly PC to comment like this on my own post (i.e. not directly in response to someone else), but I’m going to give it a go anyway.

    As I was thinking through some of your responses today, I got to thinking about Rhett and Scarlett and Booth and Brennan and dare I say I noticed some basic similarities? Rest assured, I’m not talking about similarities in personality, but about similarities in the love story (“Gone with the Wind” may not fit into the romance genre, but I would classify Rhett and Scarlett’s relationship as a romantic one). Anyway, I thought I’d throw my ideas out for discussion if anyone is interested, assuming enough of you have braved the 1800+ pages of “Gone with the Wind” and its sequel, “Scarlett,” and wish to comment.

    So here goes…We find out fairly early in “Gone with the Wind” that Rhett Butler has been knocked off his feet by Scarlett O’Hara. He even tells her at one point, in a very matter of fact manner, how he’s fallen in love with her. So here we have a man, strong and independent and nobody’s fool, who has been completely captivated by this woman and he goes to great lengths to win her affections and her hand in marriage. Scarlett, for her part, spends the entire book believing she’s in love with Ashley Hamilton. She can’t see what’s right in front of her eyes (that she actually loves her husband), because she’s too busy wanting someone she can’t have (and who she would absolutely destroy by the way). By the time she realizes that she loves Rhett and not Ashley, it’s too late. Rhett decides that he’s had enough, he’s given too much of himself with no return on his investment, and he walks away. And, of course, that’s the end of the love story, at least as far as Margaret Mitchell was concerned (more on that later).

    Does any of this sound familiar? Booth may not have said “I love you” to Brennan in so many words (although he said essentially as much at the end of the 100th episode), but it’s been obvious from very early on in the show that she knocks his striped socks off (as Sarah so convincingly pointed out a few weeks ago). And I would say that eventually it’s obvious (at least to the audience) that he’s fallen in love with her. Just like Rhett, Booth is strong and independent and nobody’s fool, but when it comes to Brennan – he would do just about anything for her. But Brennan doesn’t see that, or if she does, she doesn’t understand its importance – both to him and herself. In many ways, Brennan is married to science. Anthropology is her Ashley Hamilton. In her case it’s not that anthropology isn’t worth her devotion, it’s that Booth is too. I believe she’s loved Booth in some capacity for awhile, but like Scarlett, she didn’t realize the extent of that love until after it was too late. Booth decided he’d had enough, given too much and gotten nothing in return, and so he walked away. And I think that’s where we find ourselves now, in season six.

    But as rynogeny said in her comment, HH describes Bones as a romantic comedy and if that’s the case, we can and should expect our happily ever after. And if “Gone with the Wind” falls in the genre of historical fiction, then its sequel, “Scarlett,” is most assuredly a romance. Margaret Mitchell refused to write a sequel to “Gone with the Wind” because she felt like Rhett and Scarlett’s story had ended with the end of the book. Her estate, however, thought otherwise and eventually gave Alexandra Ripley the rights to pen a sequel. “Scarlett” was released perhaps a year after I first read “Gone with the Wind.” I waited eagerly for my turn to read it (we lived on a small Air Force base overseas and the library had an extensive waiting list), hoping for a happier resolution to Rhett and Scarlett’s story. I was not disappointed. It took another daughter, significant character growth on Scarlett’s part (and some on Rhett’s part too, although we don’t really see it first-hand), and a number of years, but happily ever after finally happened. And I loved it. “Gone with the Wind,” it was good (heartbreaking ending and all), but I loved the resolution that “Scarlett” brought. Right now with Bones, I feel like we’re at the end of “Gone with the Wind.” The good news, of course, is that it ain’t over yet! “Scarlett” has just begun.

    Thoughts anyone?

    • The sad thing about Scarlett (in Gone With The Wind) is that when she lost her baby she wanted to call out for Rhett but couldn’t bring herself to do it. It would show weakness towards Rhett and she considered herself to be strong . (I read the original version of Gone With The Wind and I know there are differences between the original print and the version printed now. I hope that scene is in the new release because it is key to Scarlett)
      Brennan is also a very strong woman and is very defensive when it comes to showing love towards anyone. I hope we see Brennan’s emotional growth now and that she will be willing to show love to those that love her (no matter how much that may hurt).

      • They made CHANGES to Gone with the Wind? Why?!?

      • They made changes to Gone the Wind for the same reason that they are now going to make changes to Huckleberry Finn. It is very sad to mess with the classics even if they are not politically correct.

  26. I am most definitely a Happy Ever After girl, no question there and yes you always have to take the journey first. HH has his plan & we are just going to have to be patient. That’s what I keep telling myself.

    “That we are so affected by the current storyline on Bones is proof, in my opinion, of how very completely we have been drawn into the lives of the characters. And that, my friends, is good storytelling.”

    My problem is I am not so drawn in this season with the exception of a couple of eps. I just don’t feel the story telling is good as it could/should be. I may not like the Booth/Hannah thing but you generally know you have to put up with this for a while. But when I find myself cringing at their scenes & not wanting to watch, well that is something else.
    We have had great story telling from Hart & Co. so when it’s not so great it stands out & unfortunately happy ending or not you have to keep the viewer engaged in the meantime to get to that ending.

  27. One of my favorite books is The Thorn Birds. It doesn’t have a happy ending and is really quite tragic. The thing I loved about it is that the female characters were strong women who seemed confident and dared to take chances. They made their decisions and live with them. They often made choices that often didn’t make their life easier or better, but they took chances. This is a love story that is interesting and compelling, without the Disney ending. The happily ever after is never realized, but thats life. To me, told this way, by this author, was beautiful.

  28. I love a happy ending, yet I can enjoy the journey as well. That all being said, I really want the happy ending at the end – why? Life doesn’t have as many as I’d like. So, I’ve decided to listen to what Hart has been saying over and over- all things happen eventually. Personally, TV shows, I would much rather them take time to get together than to put them together then contrive a horrible lame reason why it won’t work. Please Hart though, give us that happy ending, but I can wait…
    On the other hand to everyone who hasn’t read Little Women you definately should. I also suggest Little Men and Jo’s Boys. I’m still heartbroken that Laurie and Jo didn’t get together. Jo’s hubbie never wowed me, but he was a fine guy. I always felt that Laurie pined for Jo. But that’s for another website : )
    Thanks for this website by the way. I get tired of everyone being so mad at Hart. I understand, but I don’t get trashing a show you supposibly love.

  29. Excellent post Stephanie! You are spot on!

  30. That was a beautiful post, Stephanie!!!!! 🙂 I, too, was disappointed when Jo turned Laurie down (I think I was about 10 years old when that happened). But with BONES, maybe because now I’m older, I’m not that devastated with how things are right now. Sure, I felt crushed when Brennan rejected Booth and Booth rejected Brennan. But there was still signs that what they had was something that probably could never be destroyed. So bring on the wars, anthropological digs, new girlfriends, what have you…’cause I believe in their relationship and I think they’ll make it through whatever comes their way!! I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I don’t think Booth and Brennan getting together ASAP is on my list of priorities right now. What is happening to them right now is, more than ever, showing me how strong their bond really is.

  31. I’ve been thinking about this since yesterday. I totally agree Stephanie with the examples you gave and the thoughts that in this age of Disney that most people do want a happy ending. That said, many of the true classics are not that way at all. You talked about A Walk to Remember…she dies at the end…and even knowing this going into it, I still hoped for a different outcome. Even though she truly accomplishes changing a man for the better. I have to say I’m trying to remember how close the book was to the movie because I’ve seen the movie more recently than I’ve read the book…anyway, I’m off topic.

    I was looking around at some things today and stumbled across this quote, ironically made by an American writer, Peter S. Beagle in 1939. He said: “Heroes know that things must happen when it is time for them to happen. A quest may not simply be abandoned; unicorns may go unrescued for a long time, but not forever; a happy ending cannot come in the middle of the story.” If you are wondering why this might sound familiar, I will not keep it a secret…Peter S. Beagle wrote The Last Unicorn. I loved this movie as a kid and when I found it on DVD went and bought it. I think this novel/movie is another good example of the want for a happy ending but the fact that it is not the ending you hope for. The unicorn does overcome many obstacles and does discover that she is not the last of her kind. However, in saving her kind, she discovers that she is the only unicorn to ever feel love or regret, especially now that she must leave her friends and her love and return to her forest.

    What does this story and the quote have to do with B&B and our beloved show Bones? I think simply this…we are in the middle of our story. Simply put, there is so much more in store for them to develop as characters that if our happy ending came now, it wouldn’t feel complete somehow. Maybe we would feel cheated out of the story we know could be there. Yes, I want a happy ending for B&B but I do not want it at the expense of the story and I believe that HH has so much more in store for us!

  32. One more little bit of food for thought…Ernest Hemingway (to quote an author of classics…) said: “If two people love each other, there can be no happy end to it.”

  33. First, I just want to say, this is one of the posts that’s convinced me to subscribe to this blog above any other Bones blog I’ve been able to find–I can feel the kindred spirits already! I’ve been looking for a show discussion blog to read for ages now, and I’m pretty sure I’ve found it, so thank you!

    In reference to the post, I just have to say, I so appreciate that there are other people who can see the worth of the show in more than just the will-they-or-won’t-they pay off. It seems like everywhere I look viewers are dropping like flies, citing that they’re being played with and taunted, that B&B have been apart long enough. I get that people want to see them together–who among us doesn’t? But to leave the show in times like these? Yes, it’s heartbreaking to see Booth with Hannah and Brennan adjusting to her new place in his life right now, but doesn’t the fact that it’s heartbreaking tell anyone anything? What kind of geniuses can put on a show that enflames people’s emotions so fully? I’m not saying Hart Hanson & Co. can do no wrong, but look at the MAGIC they’ve given us! Since The Parts in the Sum of the Whole, the show has been pretty well fraught with heartbreak for us all, but some of those moments have been the best moments of the entire series in my opinion. And season 6, yes, I concede it’s been awful for us to watch Booth and Brennan apart and disjointed the way they are. But watching them so disjointed is almost more beautiful than watching together–you can SEE how it’s just killing them, even as Booth buries himself deeper and deeper into a serious relationship with another woman. To me, instead of destroying my B&B hopes, season 6 is affirming them! I just don’t understand how people aren’t seeing that! I just wanted to say thank you for shifting our perspective and encouraging us to ride it out with Booth and Brennan. We’ll get there. Can’t you feel it?

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