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Is marriage the new monster under the bed in entertainment?

Quick: Picture the last truly happy married TV or movie couple.

If thinking about it took a moment, maybe it’s because marriage appears to have gone from the ideal, if trying, situation (think the Huxtables) to something to be legitimately feared or made the best of.

The latter seems to be what a lot of TV is experimenting with these days, whether it’s “The Americans” (about a pair of spies posing as a picture-perfect married couple), or FX’s pair of “I guess this’ll do” sitcoms, “Married” and “You’re the Worst” -- both about couples who love to hate each other while they struggle to make sense of married life.

While most people would probably say that marriage isn’t always a picnic, pop culture seems to be upping the stakes on getting married.

Choose the wrong person, as The Atlantic’s Megan Garber pointed out in an article about recently released film “Gone Girl,” and suddenly the implications are a lot worse than a night on the couch or even divorce. The film, Garber argued, was as much about the dangers of being married as being, well, a murderer.

“(The tensions of the story) elevate ‘Gone Girl’ from taut psychodrama to full-on horror movie, because they suggest that the source of marriage’s romance can also, in extreme cases, become a source of fear: You never really know, fully, the person you marry,” Garber wrote.

Even President Barack Obama was recently quoted in a Slate article as joking that it takes the average woman a decade to “train” a man and that he quit smoking because he was “afraid” of his wife, Michelle.

With so much of culture painting marriage as a cautionary tale rather than a responsibility, perhaps it’s no surprise that millennials are largely waiting to tie the knot. The U.S. Census Bureau reported that in 2013, the median age of marriage rose six years since 1959 to 29 for men, 26 for women.

A recent Bloomberg article examining the potential economic impact of delaying marriage was called, appropriately, “The Seinfeld Nation,” after the early 1990s comedy about a group of single friends who often sabotage their own relationships for petty reasons.

Email:, Twitter: ChandraMJohnson