Everybody keeps calling them unhealty. (What does it mean?) ive seen so many couples coodepedent, verbally abusing, staying in a relasionship not to be alone, they are not in love but they care about each other, they cheat and forgive. The lie and forgive. I mean its not surealism. But in terms of the soap itself every couple n character in there are messed up, toxic and abusive arent they?
Well to be honest I think Aaron and Robert do have a very unhealthy relationship if we’re judging them as real people, but you are right that this is soap and that it’s a bit different in that medium. Soap is all about the drama so you do get these huge storylines which wouldn’t happen in real life and make things messy. I mean just to start with, they covered up a death together, which isn’t exactly a solid starting point for any relationship! Most couples don’t actually have to deal with a hurdle like that! And then the writers decided to turn Robert full-on villain and then redeem him again. In real life if someone has been a ‘villain’ it’s not so easy to just start again with them and put aside what they’ve done, but because it’s soap, he gets shot, changes, and had a redemption storyline. As a viewer of soap, we accept this. But like I said, if they were real people it wouldn’t be that simple. Soaps take everything and ramp it up to the most dramatic it can possibly be. I think most of us watching understand that, and it’s why we don’t permanently hate every character in the show! Because most of them have done something terrible at one point. I mean Aaron, who is a fan favourite (and my absolute favourite and son), has done some dreadful things in his past. Just off the top of my head I can think of the warehouse robbery with Ross where he knocked out a completely innocent man that worked there so they wouldn’t get caught. And the fact he attacked Kasim is also HUGE. Or it would be in real life. But again, it’s British soap. We accept it. Realistically most soap characters should probably be in prison by now.
This is why, although I entirely understand people who hate Robert, I don’t subscribe to that way of thinking myself. If he was real, then yes. But he’s a (sometimes) soap villain in the midst of an attempted redemption arc. Viewing him as you would a real person just doesn’t work. It doesn’t work for most soap characters. That’s why British soap is so unique and why I like it so much. It takes you to extremes, but at the same time tries to deal with the emotional fall-out in a semi-realistic way. It’s fascinating as a medium.
This is part of why I still like them as a couple. Because yes, if you take them as they are and look at them like they are real people, it’s sooooo toxic. And the history there is enough to make you want to get them away from each other. Aaron has a terrible temper and so many unresolved issues, Robert is a master manipulator with a frankly shocking history. They don’t communicate properly (most of the time, although it’s looking better recently) and the stakes are always super high. BUT when you look at it within the context of British soap, it’s true that it’s hard to find any character, let alone a couple, which doesn’t have similar problems. Look at Cain and Moria, for example, which is a big fan favourite. If they were real people, I doubt they’d be rooted for as a couple, but viewers understand that it is soap and so they have a lot of support. There are people out there who like Debbie and Ross together (I hate it, personally. I’m all about Debbie and Rebecca), but Ross has literally shot a man in cold blood. It was a pre-meditated hit for cash. In real life would you want anyone to date him? Noooooo. You would want him in prison. But in soap, again, it’s different. (The same goes for the other big British soaps as well. I can think of so many examples of couples which would be regarded as toxic and even abusive if read in a real-world context.)
Rooting for relationships in soap is different from most mediums, because it’s more about the chemistry and emotional connection than anything healthy. Because it can get so ridiculous and fantastical (one day they’ll write a comedy ep, next it’s a whodunnit), it’s more about that connection between characters and who works well on screen together. It’s about who compels you and you want to see sharing scenes. This is why I think Robron are so popular. It’s not (as many would say) because people believe they are healthy and the perfect blueprint for a happy couple. It’s because they provide huge drama while somehow managing to maintain that connection and a very realistic sense of loving each other. That’s hard to achieve in soap, but somehow they’ve done it. Through all the dramatic storylines there’s been this constant, believable affection between the characters. It’s like they’re tied to each other. So despite the weirdness around them, you put them in a scene together where it’s just the two of them, and suddenly you have realism, because it feels like watching a real couple. I’ve honestly not seen anything like it in soap before and I have no idea how they’ve managed to create something like that in the medium of British soap.
Part of the appeal of Robron for me is that they are two very damaged people. They both have BPD (imo, as someone who has that myself). They are capable or bringing out the absolute best and the hellish worst in each other. You never know if they’ll make it or not either, even though you want them to, because the mixture of their personalities could make them perfect together or a toxic mess. As a team they are unstoppable. Apart they are broken. And these are two huge Emmerdale characters with history (especially Robert). They’ve not been written for each other. It doesn’t feel forced. They just click. Those two established personalities provide some of the best interaction and chemistry in soap. Emmerdale struck so lucky there. I genuinely think it was an accident as well. They accidentally stumbled upon gold with their characters and actors, and they don’t even know what to do with it sometimes (hence the strange writing decisions which happen from time to time). Because they’re trying to fit a couple worthy of Wuthering Heights or some other huge, messy, dramatic, gothic romance, into a soap format.
When I say they’re unhealthy I mean that if they were real, I would encourage them to stay away from each other. But because they exist in soap, I see past it. I agree with those who say the relationship is toxic by non-soap standards. They are absolutely right. But this is soap. This is the medium they exist in (which is often unfortunate). I think we have to accept that things will be extra dramatic and extra terrible but also extra brilliant as the storyline requires. If you want to see healthy couples in realistic domestic situations, then I’d say British soap isn’t the best place to look for that. (Unfortunately).