“Happily ever after” falls into the same category as “Forbidden Love” and that category is called Tropes That Shouldn’t Exist.
Now I was a pretty dumb kid, but even I didn’t believe in fairy tales. I’ve never known any kid that believes this Happily Ever After bullshit, but I have seen grown ass women refusing to eat anything at a restaurant, much less anything that could be considered messy, because their One True Love might walk into the door and will never become their much coveted husband if he catches her with pasta on her chin. No, really, this happened. Kids are stupid about a lot of basic things but at least they’re not completely delusional.
You want to know what happens after the marriage? Snow White gets seven dwarves of her own, Cindarella has someone else to do the cleaning and is bored out of her skull, and Sleeping Beauty, weeeell, do we want to go with the Perrault version here, because no. The princes are out hunting all day or entertaining their mistresses. Meanwhile, the Fairy Godmother is having a spa day and can’t be bothered about absolutely anything.
I mean, what’s the deal with fairy tales anyway? Folk tales, now those I can get behind. Tales of strong-willed men and women outwitting demons and spirits and talking animals, that’s something useful. Stories that give you a laundry list to marriage? Not so much. How to score a prince: a) be royalty yourself and wait for your arranged marriage, or b) be the most beautiful girl in all the kingdom and having a really unusual shoe size helps, too. No thanks, I liked the story about a girl outwitting the devil to save her sisters from hell better somehow.
And it doesn’t stop there. From teenagehood onwards I was bombarded by a vast of rom-coms that rivalled Ren fairs in ridiculousness and Brechtian theatre in level of grotesque, and I’m not even going to go into an analysis from a feminist point of view here because that would take too goddamned long.
I mean seriously, who the hell writes this shit and why did most of the female friends I had lap that stuff up like manna from the heavens? So guy meets hot chick. Absurd non-conflict that everyone takes way too seriously happens that prolongs the plot to ninety minutes until they finally kiss and make up and get married. When an honest five minute talk could have saved us all the bullshit. (Looking at you, teenage rom-coms and every film with Meg Ryan ever.)
And then there’s The Big Misunderstanding that inevitably happens about the middle of the film so we spend the rest of the film “worrying” if they’re going to get together after all (spoiler: yes, they will, they always do, why is that even a question?). The Big Misunderstanding is usually one protagonist overhearing or seeing something waaaaayyy out of context. Now what do they do? Do they follow up with the romantic partner? Do they talk to their partner, be like “Hey, I heard [insert controversial half-heard thing that makes me think you’re a WHORE/ASSHOLE!], do you know what they were talking about?”? Nope. It’s an Olympic-grade jump to conclusions, a big argument during which one side has no idea what the hell is happening, a complete refusal of having a good old-fashioned healthy talk (really, rom-coms are not exactly sending a good message about the importance of communication in relationships), and in the end they still end up together, usually through no effort of their own, but because one of their
goofy sidekicks friends steps in at the last moment to resolve this and more or less beg the intended breeding couple to engage in make up sex already.
It’s even worse when they throw in “Forbidden Lurve” for good measure. I most cases the love isn’t so much forbidden as slightly frowned upon. So one of you is rich and the other isn’t, big deal. Your relationship isn’t worth much if you throw it away at the slightest hint of trouble, I mean what are you gonna do if you have kids and you want to tear your hair out with tiredness from all the sleepless nights? Stop being wimps, stand up to your douchey parents and do something useful. (Looking at you, The Notebook.)
Also, relationships. Just once I’d like to see a portrayal of a realistic relationship. You know, the time after they fell in love. When they find out humans are humans and not prince/ss substitutes. And when they find out that maybe they should have gotten to know each other better before jumping into this entire marriage thing. And then come up with an actual solution. But they don’t do that, instead they try a “twist” (an oooooh look at this twist, are you looking, isn’t it just so twisty! kind of twist) by doing a rom-com with an older couple. Which somehow makes the entire genre even more asinine because aren’t people in their fifties and over supposed to know better? And know when it’s time for a divorce because one of you is a douchebag and the other’s an idiot? (Looking at you, Hope Springs.)
Bonus points if they throw fantasy elements into the mix. “We can’t be together because of X thing!” someone proclaims. To which I reply, “Then stop doing X thing.” – “I CAN’T STOP DOING X THING BECAUSE OF REASONS!” Usually the script forgot to give them a reason. I mean hell, if you’re a vampire just rob a blood bank, George Hamilton figured that one out in the 70s. If you’re something other than a vampire I’m pretty sure you can work around that somehow. One honest talk and a bit of preparation, that’s all it takes! Or just don’t fuck humans, find someone of your own species, you weirdo. (Looking at you, every fantasy film with a romantic element ever.)
Also, they suck. Rom-coms suck. They’re badly written, the characters are flatter than a sheet of paper, the dialogue is bullshit, even kindergarten kids have more believable conflicts and heartaches, the resolutions are lazy, the setting is somehow always New York and the actors are just not that good.
So what do we learn from this? Well, this lil’ princess here is going to keep feeding the tower-guarding dragon scraps from her plate until it’s tame enough to fly her away to a film set where women have better things to do than ensnaring a maaayyyuuun. Preferably a place with more wifi and less stupid princes. So done with castles #sodone #cantbebothered #independent #grownwoman.