I’m so pleased to welcome Natasha back to Reads & Reels!
Last time she was “here” she had written a hilarious piece on certain tropes found in romance novels, specifically the “damsel in distress” trope still found today in modern writing. (Read it Here)
Today she’s going to talk about romcoms (you know you love them) and why the “nice” guy” can’t catch a break and when he does, he feels he’s undeserving.
Nice Guys Finish Last & Unrequited Love by Natasha D. Lane
Okay, I’ll admit. I have a dirty little secret, a tantalizing weakness that gets me every time and at times even leaves me wondering why I chose to take part in the vice.
Here it goes.
I love romantic comedies. Yes, I know. They’re corny, predictable, and in some instances just downright poorly done. But I’d be lying if I said their predictable plots, laugh-because-it’s-bad one-liners, and the characters’ amazing ability to stumble into awkward situations couldn’t occupy me for hours.
And truth be told, I don’t think I’m alone in this addiction. We all have our guilty pleasures and as much as I love rom-coms, there’s a consistent trait in some of them that pulls me down from my high. The consistency I speak of can be found in movies such as the 2010 film She’s Out of My League.
Now, please understand that I am fully aware this movie and many like it (2009’s I Love You, Beth Cooper) don’t fit neatly into this trope and they all have their “happy endings.” The “nerdy” guy gets the “popular” girl. The popular girl finally realizes the nerdy guy is the one for her and they ride off into the sunset together. But therein lies the problem.
The popular girl has to realize the nerdy guy is amazing and “worthy” of dating her.
As someone who’s been a fan of nerdy guys since middle school, this trope frustrates me to no end. Not only does it perpetuate the idea that a person needs to change in order to find love but it completely neglects a specific character, one who goes unwritten or unnoticed too often.
This character is the nerdy girl (or goth girl, emo chick, loser, female best friend, etc) who loves the lame male lead as he is.
Of course, this trope and character archetype aren’t new nor are male characters their only victims. I mean, we’ve all seen She’s All That, right? However, the frequency of this story in media in comparison to its counterpart—a nerd love story—is something to note because it speaks to a culture of standard and expectation.
The hot blonde bombshell next door should be the male lead’s only goal even if she mistreats him or the two have nothing in common.
Let’s dive a bit deeper into She’s Out of My League. The main character Kirk Kettner is played by Canadian actor Jay Baruchel. He’s a TSA officer at the Pittsburgh International Airport and has a pretty crappy life. He doesn’t have much luck with women and his most recent ex-girlfriend (despite being the one to dump him) still remains close with his family. Ever head of a constant reminder?
Anyway, one day the jaw-dropping Molly McLeish (played by Alice Eve) walks into the airport. Kirk is the only TSA officer who doesn’t openly drool at her and actually treats her like a human being (treating women like people? Who would have thunk it?), making him memorable. Later, as she’s boarding the plane, Molly realizes she left her phone in the airport. She calls her phone, Kirk—who has found her phone– answers and the two agree to meet up to return Molly’s phone. From there, the pair eventually fall into a relationship with several revelations coming to light, one of the most significant that Molly only dated Kirk because he was “safe.”
So, to start, Jay Baruchel is hot, peeps. I mean come on…
Whether he’s playing a TSA officer in this movie or Seth Rogen’s hipster best friend in This Is the End, the man is all types of nerdy, all types of fine, and all types of yummy.
My issue with this movie is that Molly for over ninety percent of their story views Kirk as second best. Yes, by the end, she comes to her darn senses and snatches him up but what was blinding her before?
Admittedly, if you’ve seen the movie, you’ll know Kirk isn’t completely innocent himself. Still, what stopped Molly from seeing how dateable he was immediately after their first romantic encounter?
Beyond that, why did Kirk knowingly settle for someone who initially had no interest in him and only dated him as a kind of backup?
Simple answer: Because he was a nice guy. They’re supposed to finish last which is a sugarcoated way of saying; they’re supposed to take what they can get, especially if she’s attractive.
Another face-palm, anyone?
Sadly, this style of story isn’t the only time the nerdy, sweet guy gets the crap end of the stick.
Nice guys often fall victim to unrequited love, as well. There are a ton of unrequited love movies out there, one of the most notable being the 1980’s hit Pretty In Pink.
Before anyone says anything, yes, I know the eighties was over twenty years ago now but it was a pretty defining decade. The sixties and seventies had the hippy movement and civil rights (hella important by the way). And the eighties?
Well, they had cinematic masterpieces like E.T., The Breakfast Club, Ghostbusters, Gremlins, and, well, the list goes on. If you want a more recent example, read “The Mortal Instruments” book series by Cassandra Clare or watch the television show Shadow Hunters which is based on the series…read the books.
Anyway, to wrap it up, I’ll say this:
To all the nerdy, loser male rejects out there who are pursuing the hottie with little personality and an uppity attitude, stop what you’re doing. Look around and see whose eyes are plastered on you. Because there’s a geek out there just waiting to ride off into outer space with you.
Natasha’s a friend of most things caffeinated, a lover of books (particularly fantasy), and a writer to her core. Her first fantasy novel “The Pariah Child & the Ever-Giving Stone” is set to come out this spring. You can keep up with her on the social media links below.
Instagram: Natasha Lane Writes
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