'Bones' Wedding: Showrunners Revisit (and Dismiss) the Notion of the 'Moonlighting' Curse
"Our characters, these two specific characters, lose nothing when they're together," EP Stephen Nathan tells THR. "It's been 20 years of people talking about 'Moonlighting.' It just doesn't make sense."
Three seasons after segueing Brennan (Emily Deschanel) and Booth (David Boreanaz) from perpetual will-they-or-won't-they to happy couple, Bones finally married off its two leads during Monday's episode, "The Woman in White."
The Fox drama's long flirtation with the dreaded Moonlighting curse no longer a concern, the stable duo tied the knot with little more than the requisite procedural drama -- something that creator Hart Hanson and co-showrunner Stephen Nathan wouldn't have imagined several years ago when so much attention fixed on how to negotiate the stars' chemistry while not derailing their dynamic.
One of the steadier ratings performers -- and Fox's longest-running drama by far -- Bones did not see a viewership exodus after its leads paired up. And while the TV nuptials could have been saved for later in the current (ninth) season, the executive producers say they felt the development had become unavoidable. Hanson and Nathan, who recently chatted with The Hollywood Reporter, also admit they still have mixed feelings about how they finally got the two together, talk about which star had cold feet about the onscreen marriage, and suggest that it may be time to put the notion of the Moonlighting curse to rest.
(A few mild spoilers follow.)
Did you give any thought to saving the wedding for the finale?
Hanson: Only for a minute -- both the studio and the network said, "Shouldn't this be a season-ender?" And after our arguments against that, they said, "Oh, we get it."
Nathan: Everybody assumed that Bones would end with a wedding and that everybody would go off into the sunset. It's just too predictable. Their relationship had gotten to a place where it was fake if we didn't have them marry.
Hanson: Creatively, it just had to happen. It's our ninth season, and we have to keep eyeballs. We front-loaded it -- and part of that was spoiling that the wedding was coming. It would have gotten out anyway.
Nathan: We also didn't want to keep it the will-they-or-won’t-they any longer. Anything keeping them apart was artificial. It's not like their characters are going to change. They're still going to have the same conflicts and issues when they work -- but they're married.
Hanson: They've been married. And between us, we've been married to our wives for 70 years. We have a lot of good marriage stories to write.
How did you decide who would write the episode?
Hanson: We asked Karine Rosenthal. She came on the show in the second season as a writer, and then she left two years ago to be a mom. She'd be really high up in our ranks if she had stayed. She's just fantastic.
Was there a lot of anticipation about shooting the episode?
Nathan: Viewers don't have any reason to realize this, but our actors don't all get to be together on set very often. But everyone is at the wedding. And having all of the squinterns in one place is a lot of fun.
Have you had any second thoughts about how you timed Booth and Brennan getting together?
Hanson: We wrestle with it all the time. Did we leave it too long? I don't know. It doesn't seem like we did.
Nathan: I don't wrestle with it at all.
Hanson: It's what I think about in the middle of the night. If you get them together and the audience leaves, you've created this huge expectation and it turns out that's what was keeping viewers there That's why we did everything backwards. We didn't show them have sex, and weeks later she says that she's pregnant. That was the announcement. And we have this moment where his first reaction is joy. That carries it along a little further. They have the baby, we see how that's going to be, but then they have to get married. We've been parsing out these moments.
Nathan: We were always being hit with was the whole "Moonlighting curse."
Hanson: I don't believe in it at all. Those were specific characters that lost something when they got together.
Nathan: Our characters, these two specific characters, lose nothing when they're together. It's been 20 years of people talking about Moonlighting. It just doesn't make sense.
Hanson: For a while there, David was saying that they should never get married. And his point was that there's a difference between a single-man hero and a married-man hero. And we had to come to place where we'd see how that would look.
Nathan: And he does love all of their scenes to say that.
Hanson: He was the first one to say it -- even before the network.
Nathan: Their chemistry is just right. It's something you can't construct.
Hanson: I always thought this seemed to be evolving naturally.
Stephen, you have regrets about the romantic timeline?
Nathan: I was anxious when it seemed like we were going on too long without putting them together.
Hanson: We have the exact same dynamic with our serial killers: How long do we do this? I thought that with Pelant (Andrew Leeds), if we were going too far with him, but in the end I thought it wasn't.
Nathan: But if we had gone one more, it would have been too much.