Has Chenford Fallen to the ‘Moonlighting’ Curse?
Sometimes, a ship can’t help but fizzle out once they’ve overcome the bumps to getting together. This phenomenon, known as the Moonlighting Curse, can be even more painful if this happens following a slow-burn ship, another dying romantic trope due to the unstable nature of television renewal in the current market. When it comes to this, The Rookie has been pretty lucky. The ABC police procedural has so far survived five seasons and sprung a spin-off, The Rookie: Feds, likely ensuring a sixth season (although nothing has yet been announced). With time and chemistry, Chenford was born.
The romantic relationship between Tim Bradford (Eric Winter) and Lucy Chen (Melissa O’Neil) likely wasn’t intentional, so the reason the two wound up on the slow-burn track can be attributed to a passionate fan base and open-minded performers and creators. Lucy even started The Rookie in a relationship with protagonist John Nolan (Nathan Fillion), but that was dropped in the first season, funnily enough, because of the stigma of dating another cop. Thankfully, Lucy doesn’t seem to have the same problem with Tim, further solidifying this couple as endgame worthy. So, what’s going on?
The couple’s relationship starts with a teacher/student dynamic, with Tim being assigned as Lucy’s training officer while she is a rookie. The first season more or less establishes their relationship, with Tim being a hardass, for a lack of a better term. Lucy is pretty much preoccupied with Nolan for much of the season, but their bond is explored more after Tim is exposed to a weaponized virus, putting his life at risk, leading to one of the first emotional moments involving the two. Another important moment between the two happens when Lucy is drugged by a date and essentially kidnaped by Rosalind Dyer (Annie Wersching), one of the many antagonists who overstayed their welcome on The Rookie. It’s Tim who is able to find her and dig her out of a buried barrel and sits at her bedside at the hospital later. It was these dramatic and traumatic events that helped facilitate their bond and proved that these two would remain at each other’s side, regardless of their LAPD assignments.
One of the other key ways the Chenford relationship was developed was how they challenged each other. Whether it was through their opposing viewpoints or their various love interests throughout the earlier seasons. Lucy and Tim always had a push-and-pull dynamic that made them entertaining to watch. Needless to say, while their relationship has changed a lot throughout the first four seasons of the show, it’s easy to see the trust built between them, despite their exterior differences. Chenford is a couple that could get your heart pumping. Except once they got together. And after.
Where They Went Wrong
Season 4 ended on a big note when the two, undercover posing as a couple, kiss to convince some criminals of their authenticity. Tim and Lucy even convince themselves, leading them to almost act on newly undeniable feelings in the Season 5 premiere, until they’re interrupted by finding another present from the gift that keeps on giving, Rosalind Dyer. Finding Lucy’s boyfriend, Chris (Kanoa Goo), with life-threatening injuries slows things down for the couple, causing them to think about all the repercussions and complications associated with starting a romantic relationship. It’s not until the ninth episode of the season that Tim asks Lucy out after she’s broken up with Chris. The way the two get together, talking things out and taking a pragmatic approach, might hit the spot for some fans, but the beginning of their relationship still feels too simple. This beginning loses all the tension and angst that their relationship had before their established romantic relationship. Put simply, it’s boring.
This brings us to the 10 or so episodes that see the couple together. There’s no denying that these two are cute together and their chemistry exists, but the main problem here is their pacing, which could give a dedicated viewer a bit of whiplash. It took Tim and Lucy four seasons to get to the place to where they could accept their feelings for one another, let alone confess them, and only a few episodes after they agree to go on a date, they are already musing about what their future kids would be like. Nevertheless, Chenford goes from 0 to 100 real quick, and while there is an issue with many shows in danger of cancelation, The Rookie has been a safe bet for the past few seasons for renewal. There doesn’t seem to be a real reason why the couple needs to rush through important milestones in their relationship, especially considering the pace it took for them to get here.
Are Chenford Victims of the ‘Moonlighting’ Curse?
Just because Chenford is finally together, doesn’t mean that The Rookie should play it safe with its fan-favorite couple. Delivering cute GIF-able moments is all well and good, but if Lucy making a five-player trade to give Tim a new job is going to be the most interesting conflict between the two, then maybe there should have been even more build-up to their romantic relationship. With the plethora of plots that they could receive as characters in a cop show, the couple could easily receive something a little more dramatic that could resonate longer, rather than just checking off a checklist and jumping from point A to point B to point C.
The Rookie landed something special with Tim Bradford and Lucy Chen. While the original intention probably wasn’t to make them a couple, the show took heed to the audience’s response and the chemistry unfolding even in the earlier episodes, and despite the relative lack of focus the couple has had since becoming canon, Chenford at their worst is still better than any relationship Nolan has at its best. So while, yes, Chenford is suffering a bit from the Moonlighting Curse, the couple is still incredibly entertaining to watch. However, with the history and connection both Tim and Lucy have, there’s still more than enough time to course correct to allow the couple to reach their full potential, further solidifying their place in pop culture as a fan-favorite happy accident.