Romantic comedy tropes
I don't think so.
I am sure you have heard this saying at one time or the other that opposites attract. Well, I am tired of hearing it. The refrain gets most on my nerves in poorly scripted or acted romantic comedies. Now, I like watching rom-coms generally, and I don’t mind that one of the clichéd themes of the genre is love between two different personalities. When done right, like in When Sally Meets Harry, The Proposal, and Return to me, the theme really tugs on the heart strings. But when the not so good ones like The Ugly Truth and Leap Year push the agenda in my face, then it gets tiring. I saw The Accidental Husband on DVD last week, which went beyond the not so good to so not good.
The comedy bit got a few laughs from me but the romance aspect got me annoyed, it was so not convincing. Uma Thurman is a controlling radio talk show host and Jeffrey Dean Morgan is a free-spirited fireman and they meet after a “supposed” computer glitch gets them married. In the process of getting an annulment, sparks begin to fly. Like I do with most rom-coms, I give an estimate of how long I think the couple will stay together.
I didn’t wait to finish watching this one, it was so bad that half-way through, I gave them only 2 weeks before they split. The movie producers seemed to realize that some of the audience may not be convinced of their flaky romance, so they tacked on an epilogue where the two major protagonists, now married, are still lovey-dovey. The lady is heavily pregnant and talks about how they do not sweat the small stuff. I’m still not convinced.
This brings me to the title of this article and begs the question; do opposites really attract? I’ll have to be honest here and say yes they do. This is the only reason it is even acceptable as a theme in romantic comedies and romance novels. There is research, from the psychological to the biological to the social, to bear out the theory. Women are attracted by the smell of men with a different gene pool than theirs. High-strung people want a partner who will act as a calming influence on their tempers and even the bad boy wants a nice girl to take home to mama. Analogies are given with the north and south poles of a magnet and the reason more people are heterosexual. Yeah, opposites do attract, but for how long?
Yes, opposites may attract during times of high sexual tension, like in dating, courtship and the early months of a marriage. However, opposites will certainly clash when it comes to differing personality traits, attitudes and values, especially in the long term.
To the writers and directors of romantic comedies, please allow the heroine to marry the conventional guy she has been dating happily for the five years. Forget the slacker she just met yesterday, with whom the only thing she has in common is a one night stand.
Note to self. Maybe this is an idea for my next book.
Note to you. What do you think?