Let it be known that I have never been a fan of the Lip & Mandy pairing, but that doesn’t mean I wanted Lip & Karen to be together either because I didn’t. Far from it actually. It wasn’t that I wasn’t able to see each pairings positive attributes, but rather the negatives far outweighed whatever positives they may have had. Now unlike some viewers, I don’t feel that either Lip or Mandy were the victims or the villains. Both characters brought so much negative baggage to the relationship that they were pretty much doomed from the very beginning.
Lip & Mandy started out because Mandy instinctively knew that Lip would never hurt her the way her father and past boyfriends had. For Mandy, Lip represented a safe space to come home to regardless of whether it was her home or not. Lip, on the other hand, stumbled his way into a relationship he never knew he wanted or not all because he didn’t want to be the “bad guy”. This was especially so after he discovered what Terry Milkovich had been doing to his own daughter. There was just no way he could send Mandy back to him knowing what he did.
And so their relationship began, but as with all things that start out for the wrong reasons, we knew they wouldn’t last. While some may believe that the final straw came when Mandy hit Karen with a car, the truth is Lip & Mandy were always on borrowed time. Lip wasn’t mentally or emotionally mature enough to be in a relationship of that magnitude and Mandy was only trading in one bad situation in for another, but because Lip didn’t hit her she wrongfully assumed it was a healthy relationship.
In the season four finale Lazarus, when Lip & Mandy said their goodbyes, each knowing how it impossible it would be to ever go back to how things used to be, I had never seen Mandy stronger or more beautiful. Here was a woman who at one point had been so desperate to hold onto her safe space that she hit another person with her car. She risked going to jail for the rest of her life because Karen was a threat to everything she held dear. You can say she did it out of love, but that wasn’t love, it was fear that drove her to such desperation.
So for her to stand in front of Lip unwavering in her resolve to let him go took extreme strength. Abusive/co-dependent relationships have an insidious way of forever altering our perception of what a good relationship really look like and while it may not have looked like it at the time Mandy was doing what was best for both her and Lip. Mandy still had a long way to go before she would be ready for a truly healthy relationship, but she had taken a very important first step.