Shock Value Relationship
"I'm dating Dylan, a woman who volunteers at the Coalition For Gay, Lesbian And Bi Rights For The Homeless. Sure, I'm not really a lesbian, but showing up at Take Back The Night with Dylan captured a lot of attention. When I was in the bathroom stall the other day, I heard two girls I didn't even know talking about me. See, this feminism stuff works."Most relationships are about mutual attraction — or at least a mutual something — but sometimes, there's another motive at work: Someone's only in it for the attention. Maybe it's a teenage girl dating a punk to get a rise out of dad, or a gay guy who's just not that into the other gay guy but really likes shoving it in everyone's faces. The person actually serious about the relationship might want to wait to kiss until nobody's looking, but the one out for shock value will only want to kiss when everybody's looking. Hilarity Ensues — or Tragedy Ensues, depending on how seriously this is played. This seems to mostly happen with girls, due to the popular belief that women form romantic bonds out of convenience while men do so only out of instinct. The character who's serious about the relationship will probably come across as The Woobie for their one-sided affections. Super Trope of Operation Jealousy and Dating What Daddy Hates.
— Megan Heller, The Onion
- In CLANNAD, Mei (who is 13) and Tomoya (who is around 17, not to mention a delinquent) pretend to go out and actually do go out on a pretend date together all with the hope of shocking Sunohara into expressing care for and protectiveness towards his sister. It doesn't work and he waves the whole thing off, to Tomoya's fury. Ultimately, it's revealed that the reason why he didn't worry was that he trusted Tomoya enough that he thought he would take care of her.
- A particularly nasty version of this is part of Dr. Mann's backstory in Y: The Last Man.
- Phat and Vivisector from Marvel's X-Statix comic pretend to be gay to steal the media spotlight back from their teammates. Phat breaks with the ruse, and eventually he and Vivisector conclude that they are both gay, but not attracted to each other.
- In Harry Riddle (a Harry Potter AU in which Voldemort is Harry's father) Harry befriends Hermione because she's a muggleborn and such a move is bound to get daddy's attention.
- Desperate Housewives:
- Andrew's relationship with Justin. Justin was in love, Andrew used him to drive his mother insane. Andrew's still gay, though.
- While they were divorced, Gabrielle pretended to have very loud sex with a business competitor that Carlos knew, to make him stop thinking she still loved him.
- Sex and the City
- Miranda pretends to date a lesbian in an early episode to curry favour with the boss at her law firm. Fun fact, Cynthia Nixon who played Miranda have later come out as a late-in-life lesbian.
- Oddly enough subverted with Samantha's short fling with a lesbian. At first it seemed like it would be a big shocking story line that would be played up, but it was oddly underplayed, with none of them treating it like a very shocking thing. Most likely because Samantha can't really surprise them anymore. It was more shocking that Samantha was in a RELATIONSHIP than a lesbian one. Her friends were shocked by them waiting to have sex.
- Played with in Boston Legal - at the end of a court case involving one, it turned out that they were still seeing each other, and had faked the break-up and the ensuing case to maintain the publicity.
- Murphy Brown and her black boss at one point found it really amusing to "shock" people, especially by sending them kahlua and cream drinks. Eventually they figured out that the one thing they had in common was liking to screw with people.
- Mad Men:
- Paul Kinsey dated a black woman in Season 2 basically for the shock value/to indicate how "forward-thinking" and "artistic" he was. She eventually sees right through him and kicks him to the curb.
- Averted by Lane Pryce and the literal Playboy Bunny Toni; it's clear that despite him being white and her black, to say nothing of the age element, and his being married (if separated), and the other chasms between them, they actually have a legitimate relationship and aren't trying to shock anybody.
- Ja'maie King from Summer Heights High does this twice over the course of an eight episode series: First by going out with a year 7 boy four years her junior, and again when she asks another girl to the year 11 Formal.
- In Degrassi, Claire invited Eli over for dinner with her parents just as a way of shocking them with his black clothes, hearse, and chain necklaces to get back at them for getting a divorce. Eli was completely humiliated that she used him like that.
- Attempted in the pilot of Arrested Development. Maeby was upset that she barely ever sees the rest of her family. She decided that a good way to get back at her parents was to pretend to make out with her cousin George Michael, and then pretend she had no idea they were related. This backfired on her in two ways. One, her parents didn't even notice her kissing her cousin. Two, George Michael ended really enjoying the kiss, and spent much of the rest of the show trying to deal with being attracted to his cousin.
- On My Wife and Kids, Claire breaks up with her Christian abstinence-practising boyfriend, who her father approves of, for a gang banger who goes by "1040 EZ".
- Frasier's feud with his Sitcom Arch-Nemesis Cam Winston winds up their respective single parents to the point that they decide to play a prank on them by pretending to be going out. They succeed in getting their sons to make up, but hint that they're not planning on breaking up right away... (although they appear to have done so by the next episode, of course).
- Non-romantic example in Community. Britta befriends a lesbian for the sole purpose of getting progressive liberal hipster cred to lord over everyone and feel morally superior to them. She was not happy to find out that the girl she befriended is straight, thought she was a lesbian, and was doing the same thing.
- Downton Abbey:
- This trope is strongly averted by Lady Sybil and Tom Branson—the daughter of the Earl of Grantham with an Irish socialist chauffeur? It is completely shocking when they announce their relationship, but Sybil in particular had given every indication that the shock to her father was a good argument not to go through with it. As for Branson, he recognised that his family considered him a damned fool, and although he did not care, he also did not particularly want that either.
- In Series 4, Lady Rose, daughter of the Marquess of Flintshire, secretly dates the Black American jazz singer Jack Ross (and of course, even in 1922, "American" and "singer" would be bad enough, but "Black" and "jazz singer"...). While she does have some real attraction to Jack, a major factor in her decision to pursue him is simply the desire to spite her mother (Lord Grantham's cousin on his mother's side).
- Lady Rose then proceeds to avert this in Series 5, when she marries Atticus Aldridge, the son of Lord Sinderby; the Aldridges are Jewish, and the proposal causes quite a stir...among the Aldridges, particularly Lord Sinderby, as (1) Lady Rose's parents are getting divorced and (2) they want their grandchildren to be raised Jewish (as Judaism runs in the maternal line, the children would have to convert as adults to be considered Jewish under Jewish law). Lord Sinderby calls Rose everything but a shiksa. (Mind you, it's not that there isn't some racism on Rose's side of the family, but the Crawleys—who are pretty much her main family by this point—have already had the much-more-shocking marriage to Branson and are relieved to see Rose marry a man of her own class.)
- Shortpacked!. Poor, poor Leslie. Robin does eventually develop feelings for her, and by series end, they are married with three kids.
- The Moral Orel episode "Closeface" had the lesbian couple Stephanie and Kim. Turns out Kim was using this trope all along, breaking Stephanie's heart. And it turns out one of the persons they shocked, Stephanie's father Rev. Putty, saw right though it as well and felt bad for Stephanie.
- Toyed with once on Family Guy, when Meg pretends to be a lesbian in order to get some friends. A rare example of the deceptive one being the Butt Monkey.
- American Dad!:
- Hayley once dated an illegal immigrant just to tick off Stan. Stan winds up hiring her boyfriend for his factory, however, and Hayley, annoyed that he isn't spending any time with her anymore, calls immigration on him and his family.
- In another episode she tries to freak out her parents by suggesting that she might move to France and start a relationship with someone named "Simone." They remain stoic until she points out that that's a woman's name.
- A Cutaway Gag on The Cleveland Show had every girl at a college graduation ceremony breaking up with the girl next to them as soon as they've graduated.