Cheesy Love stories: Unrealistic Expectations

            I grew up watching A Cinderella Story, Mary Kate and Ashley go to Paris, and What a Girl Wants. Movies like these are what helped me shape a perception about life: conflict and immediate resolution. I grew up with the idea in my head that, as a girl, I was supposed to find a man to guide me and direct my future. If I encountered any sort of difficult situation, it would only last for the length of one angsty three minute, thirty-second song. At the end of every movie, everything would be simply resolved and fit together like a puzzle.

            These stories gave me unrealistic expectations of life. Problems aren’t resolved as quickly as they are in movies; it’s more complicated than that. Growing up, I also learned something very important: there doesn’t have to be a man to “save me” from all of my problems. I’m perfectly capable of making decisions on my own. These movies also all ended in “happily ever afters” with Prince Charming. Because I had this idea installed in my head from an early age, I had to learn the hard way that “happily ever after” doesn’t need a Prince Charming. I also learned that having a Prince Charming doesn’t guarantee you a “happily ever after”.

            Sure, love stories are cute. Don’t get me wrong; I still love to watch these movies. Nicolas Sparks’ The Notebook and The Last Song strike a cord in my heart and tear ducts every time I watch them. I absolutely believe in love and soul mates. I’ve just noticed lately how rarely things like that happen in real life. If you drop your cell phone, Chad Michael Murray isn’t going to search the school to find out whose it is. If you yell at Liam Hemsworth for spilling a milkshake on your shirt, he’s probably going to leave you alone instead of continuing to pester you until you fall in love with him. There are plot holes in almost every love story. When I’m watching a movie like this, I always hear a voice in my head at some point in the movie saying, “this would never happen”. Basically, my problem with these movies is that they blow everything out of proportion. I believe that there are perfect moments in life, as opposed to the perfect endings that are displayed in Hollywood’s movies.

Something Borrowed: Something to Return


            Emily Grifin’s Something Borrowed depicts the love triangle between characters Rachel, Darcy, and Dexter. Rachel is the maid of honor in Darcy and Dexter’s wedding. Rachel met Dexter in law school and introduced him to her life-long best friend, Darcy. At the start of the novel, the reader is thrown into the situation when Rachel describes the first time that she slept with Dexter behind Darcy’s back. While Giffin illustrates problems and themes that are relatable to the readers, the characters lack likeability, making Something Borrowed something that I would like to return to the library.

The first chapter of Something Borrowed holds the entire premise of the book. On Rachel’s thirtieth birthday, Darcy steals the limelight from Rachel (as always) and in return Rachel has sex with Darcy’s fiancé, Dexter. What started out as a one-night stand apparently turns into something more when Dexter and Rachel begin to fall in love. During this affair, Rachel reveals to the reader the backstory between these three main characters. Darcy is Rachel’s lifelong “best friend”. However, Rachel continuously complains about Darcy being self-centered throughout the novel and still tries to insist that Darcy is a good friend to her. This is not convincing for the reader— this just gives the reader negative associations with Darcy because her good “best friend” side is rarely shown in the text.

In law school, Rachel acknowledged Dexter’s good looks and charm but thought that Dexter was out of her league. This gives the reader the impression that Rachel lacks self-confidence. Rachel then introduces Darcy and Dexter, which is also a display of low self-confidence because she is letting Darcy win everything that she wants. Rachel begins to have an affair with Dexter during the engagement, eventually breaking up the wedding and winning Dexter’s love. 

            Although this love triangle is a complicated situation, the characters do not seem to grow or learn from their actions in the story. The characters do not work for what is best for them, they all whine like children until they get their way. Dexter does not learn how to be a respectful man, for most of the story he was engaged to Darcy and having and affair with Rachel. He had everything that he wanted and lusted after without any consequences because Darcy was just as self-centered as he was and Rachel never stood up for herself. Rachel shows indecisiveness and does not make any choices that are good for herself; in the end, she is fulfilled with everything that she wanted without working for it in a proper manner. Darcy’s character remains superficial and flat. She is hypocritical, getting mad at Rachel and Dexter’s betrayal when Darcy had been having affairs during their engagement as well. 

            I wish that Something Borrowed had more depth in character development, and that the overall meaning of the story was different. The way that Giffin wrote the novel gives the reader the impression that cheating is okay and that it will all work out if you are truly in love. This is not reality; if Rachel wanted things to work out with Dexter, she should have talked the situation out with him rationally instead of expecting everything to magically fall together for them in the end. The novel displays the problems of complicated relationships and indecisiveness, but does not provide good solutions for these characters.