Usually, especially in these Hollywood comedies, it’s also based on
the idea that the difference is that men are fun and interesting, and
women are tedious, status-obsessed bores. In the movies, men have
friendships, a sense of adventure, and an ability to opine at length
about rock music, and women have a strong desire to wear wedding
dresses and look aggrieved at these baffling men, with their baffling
lives that they want to live for reasons beyond simple-minded women.
In real life, however, you see that it’s completely possible for people
to fall and stay in love because they find each other genuinely
My sense it that these movies are being made because there’s a demand
for them. The resolution where two people agree to set aside mutual
animosity and live together because that’s what you do seems like a
really obvious rationalization, and the only question is whether the
movie-makers are rationalizing their own miserable marriages, or if
they’re responding to a strong public desire to see bad choices
rationalized. The obvious answer is, “A little of both.” A
screenwriter who rationalizes his boring ass relationship will write a
more authentic script that will speak to people in the audience making
the same rationalizations, though of course it’s always possible that
cynical screenwriters in passionate relationships are just very good at
imagining what the audience wants to hear, and cranking that out.
In my extensive experience of busybodies, the same people who will endlessly make comments about how their wives don’t have sex with them or their husbands are morons will also endlessly life you about when you’re getting married, buying a house, settling down, and eating at Applebee’s yourself.
An overdose of work lately has led to my insomnia roaring back with a vengeance, so the other night I wound up watchingMarley & Me on HBO on like a continuous loop and getting more and more annoyed every time at the usual yuppie angst, like “Man, I used to be awesome, but then I had this wife and these kids and it sucks, but it’s worth it … because it is. I guess. Kind of.” I am just so over watching middle-aged dipshits mourn their lost youth on TV. Nobody forced you to get hitched or have unprotected sex, genius. I get people make choices they end up regretting, but you could at least admit they were choices. You didn’t trip over something and fall into marriage. At some point you asked, or said yes, so there’s a limit to my sympathy.
And also? You weren’t all that when you were 20, dude. Nobody ever was.
To Amanda’s point, I don’t know so much that the screenwriters are miserable or think their audiences are miserable as the people who greenlight this crap see the success of other crap like it because it’s relatively inoffensive. Except to, you know, thinking people, who won’t go see this shit anyway, and probably live in decadent enclaves on the coasts. I joke that people who write relationship trend stories don’t know anybody in a relationship but have just learned about them from the TV beamed out into space, but I do think at some point this all becomes self-reinforcing. Someone makesAccording to Jim and then it’s all downhill from there until we end up atForgetting Sarah Marshall. A lack of originality will suffice as an explanation.
It does bother me, though, that with all the pressure that exists to get married and stay married and be married, there are so few mass-marketed depictions of good relationships from which to draw inspiration. I know conflict is dramatically satisfying, and that everybody has problems, but we seem to have substituted saying “it really sucks but stay together anyway” for dealing with those problems honestly, as if it’s some kind of stunning revelation that people can go through periods of disliking each other but still be in love. As if somebody deserves a medal for saying “my wife can really be a pill at times” or “my husband is being such an asshole.” As if that says anything at all.