We watch romantic comedies as a guilty pleasure, but they are also guilty of changing our perception about relationships. The truth is never pretty.
Once upon a time—that was how fairy tales used to begin. Now, they take the form of romantic comedies, where dragons have been replaced with personal problems. Sounds good so far, but similar to fairy tales, romantic comedies present unrealistic expectations about life and relationships.
People are complex
We all know that people are not one dimensional, so why are they often portrayed as such on film? Both men and women are frequently represented as being either completely cynical about love and relationships or being overly emotional and sensitive.
It’s a little insulting that men who show sensitivity are deemed to be weak and undesirable, while the same can be said about the women who are cool and calculating.
In fact, anything outside of the stereotypical ideals of masculinity and femininity are generally unwanted. In reality, we know that we are capable of having all of these attributes at once, and display different ones at different times. As a result, there is no one way for men or women to act. Variety is the spice of life after all.
Flirting is hard
It shouldn’t be hard though, should it? Nearly everyone in romantic comedies is an expert at flirting. Personally, I’m still unsure as to what exactly flirting is.
Other than complimenting a person’s physical appearance, and making it evident that I find them attractive, I wouldn’t know what to say or how to act. Am I supposed to flip my hair and bat my eyes? Laugh at any jokes the other person may make?
In fact, the only accurate portrayal of flirting that I can think of is in She’s The Man. While Channing Tatum is handsome, his character is very nervous about talking to girls.
When he finally goes on a date with his crush, the two sit in silence until he tries to flirt with her by asking if she likes cheese. Maybe there is hope for us all then.
Kissing in the rain is awful
We all remember that scene in The Notebook, don’t we? The one where Allie and Noah have a fight in the rain and it somehow turns into a passionate kiss, which leads to a passionate night. (Of course you remember this).
While this is very romantic to watch from the comfort of your cosy sofa, in real life, it is a cold mess. Your hair will frizz, your makeup will run and, if you are unlucky, your nose may also start to run.
As someone who has tested this method, trust me: all the red hot passion of Ryan Gosling is not be enough to keep you warm when the cold rain seeps into your clothes. (Although, for Gosling, I might be willing to try again). It’s probably best to wait for dry weather or to stay indoors.
Romantic gestures do not solve all
So, you’ve upset your other half and want to make up for your mistake. Do you do the mature thing of making an honest apology? According to romantic comedies, of course you don’t. Instead you are supposed to break boundaries and inappropriately make a grand romantic gesture in the person’s garden, home or place or work.
Call me crazy, but that all sounds dangerously close to stalking. In Pretty Woman, finding out where your love interest lives was viewed as a romantic gesture.
Legally Blonde took it a step further when it showed a woman’s need to follow ‘The One’ across the country in an effort to win him back. However, in real life these situations would probably end with a restraining order. While there is nothing wrong with trying to earn back someone’s affection, it should probably be kept to a minimum. After all, the little things are the big things.
Like is not always enough
This is perhaps the ugliest truth of all. Romantic comedies have it almost engrained in us that saying those three magical words to someone is enough to conquer the world; sadly, this is a lie.
While love is an essential ingredient to a lasting relationship, it is not enough to sustain one. In a relationship, love not only needs to be mutual, but must be aided by respect and trust. If either of these attributes are missing, or if the effort is only coming from one side, love will not be enough. It’s true that anything worth having is worth fighting for, but a battle cannot be fought alone.
Fright not: it is not all doom and gloom! Yes, romantic comedies do present some unrealistic expectations, but they are also still fun to watch. Whether we care to admit it or not, we generally watch these types of films because they give us hope that romance might still exist. They are light-hearted, easy to watch and usually have fairly attractive male leads—perfect to pair with some chocolate and a glass of wine if you want a guilty pleasure.
What are your guilty pleasures to watch?
The more you understand yourself, the more silence there is, the healthier you are. —Maxime Lagacé