×
Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

TV shows you shouldn't watch with your partner

Whether or not "Netflix and chill" is your thing, streaming TV shows together has become an increasingly common activity for couples while hanging out and enjoying each other's company, without the formality of a public date. The appeal is pretty obvious: It's a good chance to cuddle on the couch, whether you've just got one arm around each other or one of you is resting on the other's lap.

Watching TV shows together can also lead to fun topics of conversation, as the themes of the show seep into your brains. Usually that's great, but there are some shows that lead to conversations you probably don't want to have. Some are about love gone wrong, or love that's just an illusion. Others introduce entire worlds where love isn't even a concern. In the interest of peace, harmony, and your overall well-being, here are ten TV shows you definitely don't want to stream with your partner.

Imposters

The protagonists of Bravo's Imposters are two men and one lesbian who've all been victims of a female con artist who tricked them into falling in love with her and then disappeared with all their money. As they pursue the woman who wronged them all, they find themselves conning others along the way — but only those who they believe deserve it. Meanwhile, their mutual ex-wife is falling in love for real and thus screwing up her next job.

Basically this is a show about how nobody can be trusted, and how just because you're truly in love with someone doesn't mean their feelings are as sincere as yours. If you're going to watch this with a partner, you'd better really know and trust them. Otherwise if you jokingly ask, "You'd never do that to me, right?" and their eyes shift in an odd way, you're never going to stop thinking about it. This is also one of the only series that's as troubling for same-sex couples as it is for straight couples. It shows how women can hurt each other just as much as men.

The Affair

The Affair on Showtime isn't as cynical about love as Imposters. It's about realistic people feeling real emotions for one another. Specifically, it's about how sometimes you develop feelings for someone when you're married to someone else, and how that can become the catalyst that changes your entire life — whether you want it to or not. Noah Solloway (Dominic West) is happily married with four kids when he meets Alison Lockhart (Ruth Wilson), whose marriage is less stable in the aftermath of a child's death. Noah and Alison have the eponymous affair, and both of their worlds are completely disrupted.

The Affair also plays with the fallibility of memory, and how two people can remember their shared past in wildly different ways. No matter how stable you feel in your relationship, a story like The Affair, especially when told so well, can introduce an element of doubt that may prove hard to shake. If your relationship already contains an element of doubt, on the other hand, this will only make things worse.

Divorce

HBO's Divorce is a black comedy in which Sarah Jessica Parker and Thomas Haden Church play a middle-aged couple who split up after he discovers she's had an affair. Ultimately there are many other reasons the two don't belong with each other, but it can still be jarring to watch a long, seemingly steady relationship disintegrate and leave both former parters alone in its aftermath.

If you're a young couple who haven't been together for all that long, watching Divorce will have less impact. If you're old enough, on the other hand, and have been together long enough to have felt a little bored in your relationship (as all couple sometimes do), the show may lead to questions like "What would you do if we split up?" or even worse, "Do you ever think about getting a divorce?" No matter how stable your relationship really is, these conversations are never fun to have.

The Handmaid's Tale

The Handmaid's Tale on Hulu is a dystopian thriller about a post-American society where fertile women are held in a kind of sexual servitude in the name of producing children for the elite. If you're in a straight relationship, this show will give both of you uncomfortable thoughts about the long history of men treating women terribly, and how quickly the show makes it seem like the advances of feminism could be swept away. If you're in an LGBTQ relationship, on the other hand, you'll instead be faced with a world where people like you are systematically imprisoned and killed.

This show has earned a lot of acclaim, and for some very good reasons. Still, even if you're watching it alone, prepare yourself for something powerfully grim and dark. If you're watching with a partner, you'll at least have some comfort from that darkness, but you may find yourself in conversations that lead to even darker places.

BoJack Horseman

Netflix's long-running animated series BoJack Horseman is about many things, and shouldn't be reduced to just its relationship-related aspects. For one thing, it's about how some people are so damaged by their pasts that they struggle to make human connections (or sentient animal connections, if you will) with anybody as adults.

Still, a lot of it is specifically about relationships. The marriage between Diane Nguyen (Alison Brie) and Mr. Peanutbutter (Paul F. Tompkins) is a wonderfully nuanced depiction of a marriage that's deeply terrible without either partner necessarily being the bad guy. They just fell into getting married for reasons that seemed good at the time, even though they've probably never really been in love with each other. Meanwhile, Diane has a strong but ambiguous connection with the equally damaged BoJack (Will Arnett), whose relationships tend to be even worse.

All of these emotionally broken people (and dogs, cats, and horses) can hit pretty close to home for a lot of viewers. If that's you, or your partner, it's probably not going to be a fun revelation.

House of Cards

House of Cards, Netflix's first hit drama, might be the most cynical show on television. Its takes on politics and marriage are certainly both quite dark, which reflects the views of its main character, Frank Underwood (Keven Spacey). Frank and his wife Claire (Robin Wright) have a relationship that's not necessarily loveless (to the extent that love even exists in the House of Cards universe), but it's certainly not a sweet or romantic connection. It's a partnership between two viciously ambitious people who are each doing their best to help the other get ahead, but for their own personal gain.

They each sleep with whoever else they want to, which is something some healthy couples do these days, but on this show it just feels like a symbol of their tawdriness. By the time their relationship really explodes, House of Cards has already done everything it can to convince you that love, like altruism, is a lie.

Black Mirror

Black Mirror, which started on the BBC and is now a Netflix original, is a sci-fi anthology with a very dark view of humanity and the future. While many episodes don't specifically deal with relationships, those that do make the prospect seem horrifying. "The Entire History of You" is about a man obsessed with the possibility that his wife is cheating on him, in a world where people can replay anything they've seen. "Hang the DJ" raises questions about how much freedom we really have to be with who we want. "Be Right Back" is about how technology can make it harder to let go of a partner.

Moreover, Black Mirror is a show that basically exists to raise uncomfortable questions. Whether the episode has anything to do with romance, sometimes discussing social questions with a romantic partner can lead to uncomfortable places. Maybe just watch "San Junipero" together, and forget the rest of the series.

Breaking Bad

Walter White (Bryan Cranston) of AMC's Breaking Bad might be the worst husband on television history. He doesn't just lie to his wife, he lies to his wife by pretending not to be a meth dealer. By the time Skyler White (Anna Gunn) finds out what Walt is up to, he's already so addicted to the power of being a criminal mastermind that he can never really go back to being a good husband to her. Ultimately his crimes lead to disaster for their family and directly cause the death of Skyler's brother-in-law Hank (Dean Norris).

Not every couple needs to tell each other everything about their lives, but this show takes secret-keeping to new and dangerous heights. You'll definitely find yourself wondering what your partner has going on that you don't know about. They'll be wondering the same thing about you. If you are keeping secrets, then you'll really be in an uncomfortable position.

Rick and Morty

Rick and Morty is a very funny Adult Swim animated series with a very dim view of humanity. Morty's parents, Jerry and Beth Smith, are trapped in an over-the-top parody of a toxic, loveless marriage. Jerry is a spineless loser who thinks highly of himself and backs it up with nothing. Beth is extremely smart and angry at the world, herself, and especially Jerry for the fact that she never really achieved her dreams. As the series goes on it becomes increasingly clear that deep down Beth is probably as amoral as her father Rick. Jerry, on the other hand, is so needy that he can't imagine life without her.

There's even one episode where alien science gives physical form to their perceptions of each other. Jerry's version of Beth is a towering monster that resembles the alien queen from Aliens, while Beth's version of Jerry is a little boneless slug creature. More than just making its characters comically unappealing, Rick and Morty kind of makes the entire idea of getting married look terrifying.

GLOW

Netflix's GLOW is mostly a pretty upbeat show about women's wrestling. At its center, however, are two best friends whose relationship has been terribly damaged, perhaps even irreparably, by one man. Debbie (Betty Gilpin) is married to Mark (Rich Sommer), and they have a baby together. However, Mark is having an affair with Debbie's best friend Ruth (Alison Brie). Both Debbie and Ruth are inclined to blame Ruth, but over the course of the first season it becomes increasingly clear that Mark is the real heel. When Debbie joins Ruth as part of a women's wrestling TV show, Mark is embarrassed and unsupportive throughout. When Debbie reveals at the first live show that she hasn't given up on wrestling after all, Mark's derision for Debbie's pursuits is palpable.

Ultimately this particular subplot is about how you can be in a serious relationship without even realizing that your partner is a terrible person. However, unless that's a specific problem in your relationship in particular, GLOW might be worth watching together anyway. No matter how dark its relationship storylines might be, this is a show that has lots of other cool stuff going on.