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Unpacking the Couch Theory and the Buck/Eddie Queerbaiting on '9-1-1'

By Dustin Rowles | TV | May 16, 2023 |

By Dustin Rowles | TV | May 16, 2023 |


For many seasons, I have been a devoted viewer of 9-1-1 on Fox. I enjoyed the characters and the thrilling rescues, although the melodramatic elements could occasionally become tiresome and repetitive. Bobby and Athena have settled into their roles as parental figures and mentors on the show, except for the times when their children were being kidnapped or they were solving decades-old cold cases in their hometowns. Hen’s ongoing drama with her wife has always been excessive and repetitive, while Chim is undoubtedly the show’s standout character. Unfortunately, his relationship drama with Maddie has been more frustrating than Ross and Rachel’s (by the way, Chim and Maddie are now engaged). Poor Chim is also the perpetual victim in 9-1-1; he’s always on the verge of death.

Meanwhile, Buck can’t commit to a relationship because he hasn’t found the right person, because he’s sidetracked by sudden epiphanies in every other episode. Then there’s Eddie, who can’t commit due to lingering feelings for his late wife, his dedication to his son Chris, and his struggle to find the right partner.

Considering Buck and Eddie’s difficulties in finding the right people, perhaps they are missing what’s right under their noses. That’s where the fans’ minds have been wandering. And yes, there is a massive 9-1-1 fan community. It is the highest-rated series on Fox, although it will move to ABC next season due to Fox’s financial constraints.

The Eddie-and-Buck situation begins with the “couch theory.” Buck had never purchased a couch because his former female roommates always brought their own. When these women moved out, they took their couches with them, leaving Buck without one. The absence of a couch symbolized Buck’s desire to be alone, which was a straightforward metaphor for a straightforward show on a basic network channel. However, fans, being fans, delved too deeply into it. Thus, when Buck’s mom bought him a couch a couple of months ago, fans went, “WTF!” How can Buck convey that he has found the perfect romantic partner if someone else buys a couch for him?

In a recent episode, the couch theory collided with the show’s habit of queerbaiting between Buck and Eddie, causing a massive uproar within the fan community.

Aside from the strong bro-chemistry between Buck and Eddie, Buck also shares a close bond with Eddie’s son, Chris. The three of them make an ideal would-be family. In the photo above, the fan community speculated that the show was hinting at a romantic relationship between Buck and Eddie. Notice how Eddie reacts similarly to both his son and Buck while sitting on the couch. Could this imply that the right couch for Buck is … Eddie’s couch?

That was the prevailing theory leading up to this week’s season finale, where an overpass collapsed, and the 188 had to be rescued. Don’t worry, everyone survived. However, the episode left many broken hearts in its wake.

Toward the end of the episode, while several firefighters were recovering in the hospital from their injuries, Buck found himself back in his apartment with Kameron, a woman to whom he had donated sperm. Kameron was staying with Buck because she had an argument with her husband and ended up going into premature labor. Buck had to deliver the baby… on his couch! Initially, the thought crossed our minds: “Oh no! Is Buck going to end up with the woman he donated sperm to?” This possibility felt particularly strong because of the connection Buck felt with the baby—his biological son—after delivering him.

But as Kameron went into labor, Natalia—an acquaintance of Buck’s with whom he had a brief romantic involvement—entered Buck’s apartment and assisted him in delivering the baby. After the delivery, while Buck and Natalia were at the hospital with Kameron, Natalia apologized to Buck for their previous dramatic encounter. They made up and returned to Buck’s place, where cleaners were unsuccessfully trying to remove Kameron’s bloodstains from the couch.

This is where the fan community lost it. Buck asked Natalia if she wanted to help him choose a new couch! This meant that not only did the couch theory concerning Eddie completely fall apart but Buck had also learned absolutely nothing! He was willing to let Natalia—a death doula with whom he shared no chemistry—pick out a couch for him. It’s just another example of Buck lacking control over his own relationships (or so the theory goes). Even more distressing is the realization that if Natalia is helping Buck select a new couch, then Buck and Eddie might not be destined for each other.

The 9-1-1 fan community responded with their usual memes:

That is where the season ends: Buck and Natalia are together, Eddie asked out a woman named Marisol, and most importantly, Bobby and Athena finally got to go on a peaceful vacation together. 9-1-1 will return this fall on ABC, pending the writers’ strike.