Updated: Aug 31, 2021
We all love a lighthearted rom-com after a long day. We are the reason that romance is one of the most successful genres of all time. You can find me subtly hiding behind the “we”. I mean, humorous plotlines centred on romantic ideas about how two people meet through extremely unlikely circumstances and fall in love followed by a prodigious conflict and subsequent solution wrapped in the package of happily ever after? Count me in! That’s the thing about romcoms. We are always sure of the end. They hardly ever let us down. They are hopeful, optimistic and reassuring. They restore our faith in love. They help us build our fantasy life where the relationships are like what they say they should be like. I have grown up constructing my world from the tiny fragments of books and movies I consumed. And trust me, I have consumed a lot. Romantic comedies have always been an escape for me. As it is for many of us.
Although, at times, when I am not intoxicated with the compelling image of one true love or a flawless relationship between two people with absolute compatibility, I ponder over the destruction these depictions cause in relationships in real life. Over the years, movies and books like these have affected our views on relationships way more than we are willing to admit. Obviously, older people are less likely to assimilate the unrealistic representation of love and build their expectations around it. But these expectations− them damping in the rain all night to get your “yes” or, chasing you down at the airport to publicly express their love for you− often destroy the relationships among the younger audience. It is very important to inform and indoctrinate our youth of what love is− beyond the rose-tinted wall of books and movies.
The thing about love stories on screen isn’t that they are untrue. It’s that they are incomplete. We hardly ever see anything beyond two people reconciling after a conflict. They don’t show us the messy part of a relationship. The raw depiction is hardly ever opted for. Books and movies contribute a great deal in building unhealthy ideas about how a relationship should run or how your partner is supposed to treat you. Having expectations is not a bad thing. It actually is very reasonable. Knowing your self-worth and not settling for less is a rational approach to finding happiness. But it is a sad truth that the more books and movies we read of the romance genre, the more we find ourselves indulging in the pit of impractical presumptions that are harmful and hurtful to both the parties involved. Blinded by our high expectations, we often end up depreciating the existence of the partner who has done nothing but supports our unhealthy obsession of binging romantic comedies every weekend.
The effect of consuming romance on screen doesn’t halt here. We not only project our unhealthy expectations towards our partner but also inscribe the destructive image of what a relationship should be like in our minds, responding to our impulse trying to recreate our favourite tropes of a romance flick. We start looking for the same people that exist (and seem charming) only within the pages of a hardcover or inside the black and white world of our favourite tv shows. The tedious trope of bad boy falling for the good nerdy girl has been shoved inside our throats for so long, yet it keeps manifesting itself in a variety of guises, still just as beloved as it was a lifetime ago. It starts with the falling for the said person’s abuser, slowly progressing to I can fix him, to the jealous/overprotective/possessive boyfriend, ultimately closing with the I will slit my wrists