The more I watch romantic comedies, the more I’m convinced that it’s a conspiratorial attempt at deceiving women into believing complete fantasy. All the romances are unlikely, short and spur of the moment, people falling in love over a few days, ladies men changing their ways for the perfect girl who is in fact riddled with flaws that are meant to endear her to both the man and the audience. It all just seems like the men of Hollywood write these things with a huge romantic comedy machine, doling out exactly what every woman wished would happen with that dashing French exchange student next door, but inevitably is always nothing more than a pipe dream.
The recipe is simple: take one pretty, quirky, interesting girl and a fairly gorgeous but somehow annoying, chauvinistic, or flawed guy and put them together in an unusual situation. Let them flirt for about 80 minutes of screen time, or anywhere from a couple days to a couple weeks in “real time”. Let there be some reason 20 minutes before the end why they might not be able to get together, and then resolve it with a happy proposal, holding hands or kissing moment.
Yes, it creates tension and conflict but the idea of a complete stranger, who doesn’t really like you at first, falling in love with you over a few days to the complete exclusion of all rational thought and reason, including giving up everything they know to be with you is preposterous. The short romances happen, yes, and it’s exciting and marvelously romantic, but that kind of love don’t happen in real life. Real relationships are more than just messy; they’re annoying and boring and sometimes fun but usually just sitting on the couch, occasionally going out and growing a stronger connection to someone because you feel you must develop that strong bond (although it’s all genetic) in order to not live a life alone.
Women get the short end of the stick in this case. We are set up from a young age watching these fictions which convince us to go for attractive, mysterious men who act like assholes because they’re “really sweet and kind”, we just have to find it in them. We try and hold onto men who know their situation, and exploit it to get the most out of it, which usually involves as many women as they can get. We think that someday soon he’ll fall in love with us and we’ll live happily ever after. He knows that you’re just one of ten girls who are dying to sleep with him, and takes advantage of that. Not only this, but society sets girls up to be convinced that unless we are gorgeous and thin and charming and sexy, we will never find the perfect guy, and so because we see our own imperfections, we settle for less and hope for better. Men are set up to think that even, especially, if they are completely disrespectful, rude, arrogant and callous, that they can get any girl they want, and that might as well be true.
Perhaps my favorite films are the one’s where the ending isn’t textbook happiness, but instead a positive spin on losing the love: 500 days of summer, My Best Friend’s Wedding, or better films that show the realistic nature of the growth of relationships, like Harry met Sally (although this does follow most of the romantic comedy rules).
I’m afraid I make the same awful decisions that all these other stupid fantasy women do, only the men I fall for aren’t played by Hugh Grant, or Matthew McConaughey, and they don’t fall in love, they just move on. And for that, I can only blame myself, since I don’t really fall in love either. Except when I do.