Story Pet Peeve #1: The Unrealistic, Fairytale Guy

The end scene of Sweet Home Alabama.

The end scene of Sweet Home Alabama.

I’m not sure this is a universal thing or just my own preferences/tastes, but I thought I’d share some things that drive me crazy in novels/stories. I plan to do this over the course of several blogs. If anything, it’s an opportunity to feed my hedonistic vanity by means of venting, which I love to do. It’s also an opportunity to share your pet peeves in novels, too. I’d love to hear them.

Story Pet Peeve #1: The Unrealistic, Fairytale Guy

I’m thinking specifically of the movie, Sweet Home Alabama, with Reese Witherspoon. If you’re a woman who likes romances, you’ve seen it. If you’re like me, a guy whose woman likes romances, you’ve also seen it. The ending of this movie ticks me off for the same reason most women seem to love it. If you haven’t seen the movie, be warned there are minor spoilers ahead.

At the end of the movie, Witherspoon is walking down the aisle with one man, while the other man she’s been fooling around with during a trip to her home town interrupts. He professes his love for her and she turns to the man she’s about to marry and says (in so many words) she chooses the other guy. This man who’s just been completely humiliated looks at her with understanding eyes and says (again, in so many words) it’s OK and gives their relationship his blessing.

Hogwash! This is one of the worst endings to a romance I’ve ever seen, and it might be important to note that I do not hate romances. In fact, there are many I’m quite fond of (A good story is a good story, no matter the genre). I mean, come ON! One of many things is happening here: first, the other guy is a horrible, horrible person. If he really loved her he would respect her wishes to marry the other guy, who isn’t a jerk or anything—he’s actually a decent guy. Second, Witherspoon’s character is also a horrible, horrible person. She was dishonest and unfair to the man she agreed to marry, and fixes this in the worst of ways—by humiliating him at the last moment. And you might be thinking, “Well, if she doesn’t really love him and just figures it out then, what is she supposed to do?” Simple—not make a scene. Pull him aside; have a private moment. Yes, it will still be humiliating and perhaps there’s nothing to do about that, but do you have to put his humiliation on stage like that? Both she and the other guy were incredibly selfish, yet they’re painted as the heroes of this tale. Third, if a person acts all nonchalant about being stood up like this, a few things are happening. Either he never really loved her at all and is happy to ‘dodge the bullet,’ he’s lying to save face and he wants to murder both of these awful people (and who’d blame him), or he’s not a real person but a holographic computer program designed by space aliens to conduct an experiment about the nature of love among humans. What happens in this movie is not real and not even believable, but because we are a society that loves the convenient, ‘everything’s gumdrops and rainbows’ kind of story, this is what appeals to people. The problem with this, however, is that some people try to live their lives this way, and these are the ones who often end up in unhappy relationships.


About authorphilpartington

Phil is a writing enthusiast of many years, having been published in numerous online and national print trade and sports publications over the past decade. He has spent the past five years delving back into the world of fiction writing, focussing on the fantasy, horror and suspense genres. Deshay of the Woods is his first novel.
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19 Responses to Story Pet Peeve #1: The Unrealistic, Fairytale Guy

  1. Polly says:

    I agree. I’m not a fan of those romantic films myself but I have watched them with my daughter. I’m with you all the way.

  2. RStorey says:

    Well said. I think most people watch and get all teary eyed when “true love conquers all”. But did they forget that a) there was a reason they weren’t happy together to begin with, and b) she cheated. SHE CHEATED!.. and they weren’t even on a break.

    I’m reaching back a couple decades, into an alternative romantic movie…but Desert Hearts is far more realistic. And one more modern and main stream is Crazy Stupid Love.

    I know that we watch movies to escape, not to reflect reality. I get that. But why does the honest, hard working sweet one get his/her heartbroken so flippantly? And why doesn’t he/she fight for love?

  3. Dyane says:

    Ugh, I hate romances, books and movies! But then I make a disctinction between romance and love stories, and it’s exactly the kind of foolishiness you mentioned that makes me want to tear out my fabulous afro. Thank you for telling the truth about that nonsense! Can’t wait for the next installment. 🙂

  4. Frank says:

    Or he’d placed a bet with long odds that he would be jilted at the author, and he’s standing there thinking, ‘Okay, life sucks, but: I’m rich!!! – and I ain’t gonna share with that bitch…’

    • I think we need to petition to get you a job where you write the disclaimers behind every romance movie. 🙂

      • Frank says:

        (I’m still trying to figure out why my fingers typed ‘author’ when ‘altar’ was clear in my mind… What exactly could ‘jilted at the author’ mean? Is that when the scriptwriters get tired of the plot just as it reaches the climax and go off down the pub?)

  5. Pingback: Pet Peeve #2: Cheating Your Audience | Phil Partington, author page

  6. Realism is the key. How would someone REALLY react in a situation like that??? Not like they often do in the movies!

    • Precisely. The problem is there are a lot of people who get brainwashed by this dribble and live their lives with these unrealistic expectations. And in this way, they inadvertently sabotage themselves from ever having a happy and healthy relationship.

  7. Bookwraiths says:

    I’ve seen the movie. (Yes, my wife made me.) And I agree with everything posted here regarding the annoyance of these type of “love” stories, namely they are so ridiculously unrealistic. However, I will say that in this movie the guy who got stood up at the altar was a politician, so I took his acceptance as more of a “I’ll screw you over later” type of thing. Just my personal take of it, but I agree the ending of the movie was “fairy tale” drivel. But what else does hollywood put out these days?

  8. Pingback: Story Pet Peeves #3: Things that irk me in fantasy novels | Phil Partington, author page

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