Universal Truth Number Seven: Romantic Heroines Must Be Insipid. Also Klutzy. In a Cute Way.

May 30th, 2005 · No Comments
by Booksquare

A confession. We have a soft spot in our little black heart for romantic comedies. However, and this is important, even we were not sucker enough to see Miss Congeniality 2. Why? Because it was a foregone conclusion that the character played by Sandra Bullock would be like many of the other characters played by Sandra Bullock, who has the misfortune of typifying the modern romantic heroine.

As Carina Chocano describes this monster:

Quirky but impeccably soignée, Charlie (the boy’s name implies you can trust her) works a series of sporadic, menial jobs but is not poor. In fact, she lives in a lovely apartment with a bottomless wardrobe and never complains about money. She has failed to enter her chosen profession (fashion design, presumably), but she’s not bitter or anxious. She’s orphaned, but not lost or needy. She’s played by a pampered 35-year-old actress but tries to convey the untarnished hopefulness of a 22-year-old. She’s also emotionally mature enough for marriage but young, very young. She’s insanely attractive, yet she’s humble. And functionally celibate. Above all, she’s nice. She’s so nice that when her future mother-in-law launches a campaign of psychological torture against her, she reluctantly fights back, and eventually forgives her.

Chocano dissects the rules of rom-com heroines on film so precisely, you’d think she was talking about heroines in so-called funny books (this heroine, if anyone cares, is Exhibit A in our case against the short-lived Harlequin Flipside line; they created the perfect monster, yet couldn’t understand why she didn’t sell). While we’ll be generous and let you read the article for yourself (thereby basking in the joy of accessing the “Calendar” content without jumping through hoops and finding a credit card, though registration is still probably required), we will suggest that the whole thing can be summed up in a single sentence:

If a character’s age is ever mentioned, best to make it 29 — 29 being the universal sell-by date after which point singleness, klutzy adorability, etc., cross the line from “sympathetic” to simply “pathetic.”

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