I know romantic comedies. Like, I really know them, to the point where I’m getting a degree in rom coms. I’m going to be Dr. Rom Com, as soon as I figure out how to conclude my dissertation with something other than a heartwarming speech about finally learning the meaning of love, an inside joke, a big kiss, and a slow pan away before my bibliography starts to roll.
One of the things that makes a rom com a rom com is the happy ending — that is, the uniting of the couple by the end of the movie. It’s a genre convention with which very few rom coms break. But the thing about will-they-won’t-they? stories that always land on “they will” is that you end up with some couples who really shouldn’t end up together. Couples who, because of restrictions of the genre, are forced together as in an arranged marriage, but who really should have been given an extra thirty minutes on screen to conclude that, no, actually, their love is not fated and destined and world-changing and perfect and let’s just go our separate ways. What happens to those couples? Where are they now?
Susan and David (Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant) from Bringing Up Baby. As a cute homage to how they met, Susan bought David another leopard as an anniversary gift. It mauled him to death while he was feeding it dinner one night because it is a terrible idea to keep a leopard as a pet.
Walter Burns and Hildy Burns, née Johnson (Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell), from His Girl Friday. After having their first child, Hildy quit the newspaper business, because come on, you didn’t really think this movie was going to singlehandedly overthrow the sexist bullshit that was America in the 1940s, did you? Sure, it’s great that Walter wanted more than a quiet suburban existence for Hildy, and that he needed her journalistic talent in his newsroom, but how long did you think that was going to last? Mothers who were married to newspaper editors did not stay in the workforce in the 1940s. Walter and Hildy worked side by side for a year or two, but given that there was no maternity leave in those days, what was Hildy to do? Stuck at home in the suburbs, she missed out on reporting on World War II and on the start of the Cold War, and developed a bitterness and resentment at the thought of what might have been, which left her daughters feeling like she didn’t really love them that much.
Isaac and Tracy (Woody Allen and Mariel Hemingway) from Manhattan. Are you fucking kidding me? She went to college, grew up, had a kid, and taught that kid to stay the fuck away from creepy, narcissistic middle-aged men who want to sleep with 17-year-olds. I don’t know where he is now, and I don’t particularly care. Come the fuck on now.
Sam and Annie (Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan) from Sleepless in Seattle. Annie’s ex-fiancé Walter (Bill Pullman), tired of forever being thrown over for the unattainable other man and being expected to take it on the chin because he’s so damn nice and understanding, carried out a vengeful vendetta and ruined Annie’s career in journalism. Which wasn’t nice, but seeing as she abused her professional database to look up Sam’s address and go find him, Walter probably did the world a favor.
Mary and Ted (Cameron Diaz and Ben Stiller) from There’s Something About Mary. Ted cheated on Mary three years into their marriage, but she forgave him. Once you’ve forgiven a man for stalking you via a private investigator, you might as well forgive him for every other shitty thing he does.
Kate and Leopold (Meg Ryan and Hugh Jackman) from Kate & Leopold. When we last left them, Kate had just travelled back in time from 2001 to 1865 in order to be with the man of her dreams. In doing so, she left behind the right to own property, voting rights, and contraception. Back in 1867, she died of tuberculosis, which almost certainly would not have happened had she stayed in 2001. But hey, it’s a totally romantic disease, and at least she didn’t die doing a high-powered and highly paid job that granted her financial independence. Because feminism is a fate worse than old-timey death.
Pete and Debbie (Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann) from Knocked Up. I don’t need to write this entry –- you can just watch This is Forty. On second thought, don’t.
John and Clare (Owen Wilson and Rachel McAdams) from Wedding Crashers. Shortly after they got married, her father became Vice President, and John and Clare now get to crash a lot of state dinners and other similarly fancy diplomatic affairs. On one occasion, John gave one of his bumbling Owen Wilson-y speeches to an ambassador from a sometimes-friendly country, and sparked a major international crisis.
Every character ever played by Gerard Butler (The Ugly Truth, The Bounty Hunter, Playing for Keeps). Every one of these men is in now in prison for domestic violence, tax evasion, or third-degree douchebaggery.
The precocious little redheaded boy and the cute, wildly talented singing girl from Love Actually. These two are still together, and they’re perfectly happy. I’m not a total cynic, you guys.