A “sugar fix” can come in all forms. A cookie, a new dress or even a one-night stand are all those lovely little distractions that make life a little more interesting. These are only problematic when they interfere with the rest of your life. That cookie broke your diet; you can’t afford the dress; and that one-night stand was your best-friend’s ex-boyfriend. The same can be said about romantic comedies. Watching one of these in the wrong state of mind and suddenly I feel bad about myself. I also create a whole new set of unrealistic expectations of how a man should court me.
These movies should have a warning label, especially if someone has just lost love, “Caution: Despite bad writing and unrealistic plot, this film may destroy self-esteem. If this does occur, please have a loved-one take your phone and computer to prevent any alcohol or depression induced communication with ex-boyfriends or potential one-night stands”.
Last summer I had a nasty break-up. After several attempts made by my friends to get me drunk and to have a one-night stand with someone they knew (I have the best friends in the world), they decided that I might not be ready to leave the house. It was too hard to get the tangles out of my hair, as well as to pry bottle of vodka from my hands. So they came over and we watched How Do You Know, because it was supposed to make me want to date again.
After watching Reese Witherspoon have easy-sex with Owen Wilson and have Paul Rudd fall madly in love with her, I felt even worse! “I have never had a fling with a guy as hot as Owen Wilson and Paul Rudd will never be head over heels in love with me. I should just give up now and become a crazy cat lady. Get rid of all my nice clothes for mom-jeans and fleece sweaters,” I lamented to my girlfriends.
I think romantic comedies or “rom-coms” hit us hard because the female protagonist is always bitter and defeated when it comes to love. It’s always someone with a past of failed relationships, has a bunch of friends with perfect lives, and has consequently thrown herself into every other aspect of her life. This is every woman at some point in her life! And Hollywood knows this because this genre keeps doing well. Jennifer Aniston, Katherine Heigl and Matthew McCaughey have built their careers on these films. Your relationship woes pay their mortgages. Thank God you keep getting your heart broken, or Kate Hudson would be out of work!
The difference between your life and every female protagonist in rom-coms is that you slough off any credit your friends give you. I watched When In Rome with some girlfriends and we couldn’t get over how unfair it was that Kristen Bell’s character could not find love. She is so smart and pretty and fun! But, people tell you these things all the time yet the immediate reaction is to dismiss it. Women will always jump to the conclusion that these things are said out of pity. The protagonists in these films can’t reject your compliments.
It’s also funny how the insane behavior of the men in these movies is deemed romantic. Interrupting weddings and stalking are a staple in rom-coms. In How Do You Know, Rudd’s character George is eager to get Witherspoon hammered, despite the fact he barely knows her and she has just had a fight with her boyfriend. That’s not true-love, it’s the beginning of a police report.
Treat rom-coms like you would a horror movie this Valentine’s day. Remember the first time you watched a slasher-flick and you were afraid to be alone? In hindsight, you realize how insane you were for thinking serial killers were living in your shower. Think of rom-coms the same way. Don’t expect a man to get in a hot-air balloon to get your attention; they don’t want a restraining order against them. If you feel bad about being single, these movies will only make you feel worse.
So, next time you need a quick distraction, give the guy your friends are trying to set you up with a second chance.