It’s a time-honored Hollywood tradition of the faux-showmance, and one we can’t help but notice as the TV season begins. A faux-showmance can work in different ways: Fake rumors that helps build intrigue around a TV series or film, or a romance sparked on set that is actually real but will nonetheless give the project attention. Either way, you’ll probably, magically, start to see some headlines when a show’s ratings drops, generally confirmed by anonymous sources close to the couple. (Publicists.)
Why would viewers even care? Usually it’s just superficial reasons, but ones that admittedly work. “Hollywood fauxmances work because the public wants to see beautiful, famous people together,” one showbiz expert told the Sydney Morning Herald several years ago, back when “Twilight” fans were frantically trying to figure out if Robert Pattison and Kristen Stewart were really together. “With all the tabloids and overexposure of celebs these days, having two huge A-listers paired together sells magazines and movies.”
A lot of times, you’ll see this as the new TV season is starting: Shelton and Stefani are the perfect example, with their respective recent high-profile divorces meaning there’s focus on their dating lives. In this case, NBC is hoping you’ll tune in to watch the show, and pay extra close attention on the season premiere when Stefani compliments Shelton wearing Pharrell’s hat. While the other judges mock, she pipes up with, “I actually think it looks cute on him!”
The list of examples is long: “Dancing With the Stars” slyly feeds the faux-showmance machine particularly well, as its pro dancers and celebrity contestants are in such close quarters. Maks Chmerkovskiy is linked to his partners without any evidence they’re actually dating, like when he had some sizzling chemistry with Olympian Meryl Davis. In one especially contrived instance, Nickelodeon star James Maslow was paired up with Peta Murgatroyd after the two had been on a date once — the show constantly tried to make it seem like they were one step away from falling madly in love. (They weren’t.)
Even now, you’ll see that US Weekly had “multiple sources” confirm that Chace Crawford has a new girlfriend — who happens to be Rebecca Rittenhouse, his co-star on ABC’s new “Blood & Oil” that debuts this week, and is getting some pretty bad reviews. Last season when CBS’s “Scorpion” premiered, it was revealed that Katharine McPhee was dating her co-star. And when “Madam Secretary” buzz was flagging in December? That’s when People confirmed that lead stars Tea Leoni and Tim Daly were a couple. Sure enough, they’re still together. Just like the “Stalker” co-stars Dylan McDermott and Maggie Q, even though their show was canceled.
So really, a faux-showmance doesn’t matter if the couple is actually real, as long as the news — or “news” — is revealed at just the right time.