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Love triangles are the most popular trope on television.
It’s the “go-to” storyline for nearly every series looking to cause friction between a group of characters.
And it’s usually done regardless of whether or not it makes sense for a character’s arc.
Love triangles have become such a staple on show’s that my passive-TV-watching husband has asked me if it’s a requirement to be in love with two people at once.
My answer? When it comes to television, absolutely yes.
Julie Plec is known as a repeat offender; she loves nothing more than to include love triangles for every character in her series.
Just take a look at her track record: On The Vampire Diaries, the love triangle centered around Elena Gilbert, a high school student torn between two elder vampires, the Salvatore Brothers. They were drawn to her because of her uncanny resemblance to their former lover, Katherine.
TVD’s Caroline, step-mother of Lizzie and Josie Saltzman on the current Legacies, was also torn between a few men, including Stefan Salvatore and baddie, Klaus Mikealson.
And now, her daughter and Klaus’s daughter are embroiled in their very own love triangle with brooding Pheonix Landon, but the circumstances surrounding their situation are vastly different than those of their parents.
Plec stepped her game up and revamped her approach to the love triangle . . . Pun-totally-intended.
The supernatural nature of these shows has long allowed writers and characters to explore different realities, but Legacies managed to do something unique with the often familiar trope that its predecessors, The Vampire Diaries and The Originals, never could.
This new approach doesn’t necessarily better the storyline if you hate love triangles, to begin with, but it terms of how it unfolds, it’s less predictable and gives characters more to play with.
Legacies’ does not serve up the classic “me or her” ultimatum.
It doesn’t involve two girls fighting over one guy, and Landon isn’t in love with both women at the same time, at least, not that he’s aware of, yet.
After Hope made the ultimate sacrifice and jumped into Malivore, she was wiped from everyone’s collective conscious.
The Originals attempted a mind-wipe with Elijah Mikealson in the final season, but in that particular case, Elijah and Hayley, the woman he forgot he loved, didn’t have to face each other daily like Hope and Landon are forced to.
Since Landon and Josie don’t remember Hope at all, they feel no guilt about pursuing their relationship.
Landon’s relationship with Josie, despite being “forbidden,” formed organically and exhibits some health qualities.
They’re open with each other, they communicate, they support each other, and while they can be very awkward at times, it’s oddly endearing.
They’ve developed a real connection without the guilt, the lying, or any of the underlining emotions that often come with a twisted love triangle plot.
Lizzie mentioned that they’re both filling a void that was left in Hope’s absence, and while that might be true, for now, it allows us to explore this new relationship without necessarily making enemies out of anyone.
Josie’s insecurities amplify around Hope, but she doesn’t know any better nor does she remember that they used to be the closest of friends, so we cannot fault her.
Hope got hurt by the relationship but also cannot place any blame.
Hope is letting the scenario play out because she knew one of the risks of her sacrifice would be that Landon could move on.
These unique circumstances allow Hope also to flex a more mature muscle — seeing Landon happy with Josie was painful, but she didn’t retaliate, she didn’t overstep, she didn’t try to break them up, and she didn’t try to interject herself into their relationship.
Hope has decided to embrace that maybe there’s a new destiny in store for her in a world where she and Landon co-exist as friends and not lovers.
Of course, embracing her current circumstances allows her to pursue other romantic interests including Rafael, a relationship that was briefly hinted on Legacies Season 1, but never explored because of his close friendship with Landon.
Plec managed to steer clear of love triangles for most of the first season, allowing the series to find its footing and success through strong plotlines surrounding monsters-of-the-week, friendships built between Josie, Lizzie, and Hope, a comical tone, and magic within the walls of the Salvatore School.
The love triangle hopefully won’t be what defines Legacies Season 2, but in a teen drama where matters of the heart provide necessary conflict, Plec has found a loophole for writing love triangles.
Much like Hope is the loophole to stop Malivore, Malivore is the loophole that allows characters to explore new relationships without the emotional baggage.
It offers new and complex layers to the generic love triangle trope and raises the stakes.
Audiences will likely find themselves rooting for both ships because there are aspects of each that work when they’re independent of each other.
Of course, once Landon and Josie regain their memories, it will likely get pretty awkward and confusing for everyone, but those feelings are synonymous with young love, regardless.
And it’s how they’ll overcome that adversity that will showcase the show’s strengths outside of the love triangle.
Simply put, Plec proved that she’s not above taking an ordinary TV trope and making it shiny again with just the right formula and a dose of magic.
What do you think of the love triangle between Hope, Josie, and Landon?
How do you think things will change once Josie figures out the truth?
Will Hope pursue a relationship with Rafael?
Be sure to watch Legacies online to catch up on all episodes!