Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Love & Lust on NCIS

Fans of TV's #1 drama, NCIS, will be well familiar with the long-running subplot of romantic tension between Special Agent Ziva David, ex-Mossad officer and femme fatale, and Very Special Agent (as he calls himself) Tony DiNozzo, ex-Baltimore cop and permanent wiseguy. Perhaps you think I could do better than to spend my time analyzing TV relationships, but I think there's an important point to be made in looking more closely at this one.

Initially, when Ziva first appears in Season 3, the relationship between her and Tony is simply flirtatious. Ziva would "slouch provocatively," as Tony accuses her of doing, or make titillating comments about her after-hours activities. Tony would leer and make the sort of comments he no doubt frequently did as a Ohio State basketball star. Any potential interest between them remained on the most superficial of levels, which is, unfortunately, where all too many TV and film romances remain.

Think about it: there are an awful lot of romantic comedies and TV shows that advertise a "love story" but present nothing more than two people either wittily or awkwardly flirting with each other, exchanging pithy one-liners full of innuendo and intrigue, with the grand culmination of a one-night stand. So superficial. So shallow. Bo-ring.

Where's the emotional depth? The sharing of hopes and dreams and fears? The intellectual discourse? The gradual deepening of care and concern by shared experience? The exclusive commitment? Too often absent. But Tony and Ziva are different.

At this point in the show, Tony and Ziva have been through a lot together, even apart from all the cases they've worked on. Tony saved Ziva's life when she was kidnapped by terrorists. Ziva supported Tony after his experience going undercover courting an arms dealer's daughter. The two have been there for each other, admitting their fears and insecurities, sharing simple moments of joy, fortifying each other in dark times. They've shown that sort of jealousy for each other that is a slight twisting of a real concern for the other's well-being and happiness, whether it was Tony regarding Ziva's relationship with "C-I-Ray" or Ziva concerning Tony's relationship with Agent Barrett. Most recently in the show, Ziva has been dealing with her father's murder, and Tony has been right there with her, from the little comforts like speaking kind words to her in her native language (perhaps he said, "I love you"?) to working with her to track down the killer, to the simple affectionate gesture of holding her hand. And that seems natural and obvious, because the show has established the strong bond between them. Tony doesn't just like Ziva. Tony isn't just attracted to Ziva. Tony doesn't lust after Ziva. Tony isn't infatuated with Ziva. Tony loves Ziva.

Too often our media feeds us the cotton candy of stories about relationships built on lust and calls them "love stories." Tony and Ziva's is a real love story. I'm glad it's on TV.

1 comment:

  1. I hadn't thought about it, other than to love the story line, but I agree wholeheartedly with your assessment and you put it beautifully.