It’s been a bad week to be a ‘shipper. Last Sunday, The Good Wife killed off legal eagle Will Gardner (Josh Charles), gunning down the dreams of fans who’ve hoped that the series would reunite Will with Alicia Florrick (Julianna Margulies). That same night, Girls drove a wedge between Hannah (Lena Dunham) and Adam (Adam Driver): In a development as out-of-the-blue as the bullets that claimed Will’s life, Hannah was accepted into the University of Iowa’s prestigious writers’ workshop, then mishandled the communication of the news with Adam, who used the occasion to break up with her after a season of growing doubt about their relationship. A couple days later, another pair of scrappy-scruffy love birds surrendered to anxieties about their union when New Girl‘s Jess (Zooey Deschanel) and Nick (Jake Johnson) decided to decouple and revert back to just-friendship. All this, and Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin called it quits, too. It’s all very sad and Phil Collinsy.
With the three television shows, ‘ship death (and just plain death) brings creative opportunity (albeit not before an obligatory grief ep or two). As Mark Harris observes, Will’s death should seed “dramatic possibility” for several characters, notably Alicia and Diane (Christine Baranski). Season 4 of Girls (due next year) could feel like a markedly different show — one with new characters, conflicts, and of course setting — if Hannah follows through and relocates to Iowa. And New Girl – struggling since the sitcom put Jess and Nick together — has a chance to win us over anew by basically reverting to its original settings.