Just about every person enjoys romantic comedies. While they’re often seen as chick flicks, most guys have no problem spending a couple of hours with some lighthearted humor. Most of us have a favorite one (Notting Hill), can quote from them, and see at least a few every year, whether in the theater, streaming, or on disc.
But the stories that Hollywood tells affects the way you see the world more than you think. Much of this is repetition, as every movie has “beats” that are hit by just about everyone out there. This is especially true of romantic comedies, nearly all of which follow the same 7 Beats.
How can simple romantic comedies be affecting the way you see the world? And how can it affect the need for couples therapy and mental health counselors?
Where They Live: Characters in romantic comedies often live in idealized versions of cities. Every apartment in Paris has a view of the Eiffel Tower. Every person living in New York can take their lunch in a crime-free Central Park. Most apartments in movies are huge, while in reality most people in a large city will live in an apartment under 1000 square feet. If they’re a struggling musician and can still afford an amazing apartment, while you’re living in Idaho and are much worse off, then you must be the screwup who just can’t make things happen (and we know that’s not true). Depression treatment might be needed just because you can’t keep up with an artificial reality.
What They Do: Ever notice how people in romantic comedies can live a consequence-free life? Need to follow the love of your life into the airport? Buy that last-minute plane ticket (without thinking that it’s a month’s pay). Take the longest lunch break without getting fired when you get back. Have unprotected sex without facing any ramifications. Go out for drinks and buy every round. What happens when someone in the real world tries to live like that and is busted because of it? Financial ruin, usually, which can lead to the need of a mental health counselor.
Relationships: Here’s the one that affects people most. In a romantic comedy, the couple meets, falls in love, falls out of love, and falls back in love. In short, the lives of people in movies get completely worked out in the course of two hours. And because it ends on that note, they’re trapped in ‘happily ever after” in our minds.
Because we’ve seen so many movies, we’re disappointed when our own relationships don’t take that path. In reality, couples overcome the same minor problems in their lives (end of movie problems) but then are presented with the big problems of life…the death of a parent, financial difficulties, health concerns, infertility. When presented with the “post credits” problems of life that Hollywood never prepared them for, they can fall apart.
Romantic comedies present a view of a perfect relationship in which the couple overcomes a single problem! And once that problem is solved, in our minds all problems are solved because the movie ends.
If this information has spoken to you and you’d like to discuss it further with a licensed professional counselor, give us a call. Hollywood calls you a puppet, and we can help you cut the strings.