Sometimes a top five isn’t tied into a new release, an anniversary, or a holiday. Sometimes it comes about from a discussion we have that warrants our individual thoughts. So it is with this week’s five. We started discussing movies where the romantic lead “picked” the wrong person, which led us a down a rabbit hole of quasi-debate/arguing. Feel free to share your own five or comment on ours in the comments below, and be sure to vote on whose 5 this week is the best on our Twitter feed.
This one could have been a top 10 for me because I usually believe leading ladies are wrong. Okay, I also love villains who aren’t meant to succeed but my point still stands. I love Leo in Titanic, but had Cal not been so slap-happy I would have been just fine with Rose choosing him. Controversial statement? Maybe. The point is my five are very me – the best top 5’s are – and I am okay being the shoulder to cry on for these men scorned.
Melanie choosing Jake over Andrew in Sweet Home Alabama (2002)
This was the impetus for this five and I still get pissed every time I watch Sweet Home Alabama. Let’s break this down: Patrick Dempsey’s Andrew looks like JFK Jr. for starters. The fact that Melanie thinks she can do better than 2002 Patrick Dempsey is ridiculous. He also took her to freaking Tiffany’s – closed it down! – to pick out a ring! Tiffany’s! This isn’t Holly Golightly hanging outside. Sure, Candice Bergen was his mom but also Candice Bergen is his mom!!! Melanie hadn’t had ANY interest in seeing Jake before she absolutely had to, so I’m not buying that they needed to rekindle jack. And what happens when his burgeoning glass company goes pear-shaped? Melanie’s gonna be supporting him in Alabama forever.
Ann choosing Felix over Mickey in Four Daughters (1938)
As you all probably know, I’m obsessed with John Garfield and I don’t understand how other people aren’t (looking at you, Mom!). Four Daughters was Garfield’s debut where he played the little black raincloud invading the happiness of the musically inclined Lemp family. Garfield’s Mickey Borden catches the eye of the doe-eyed Ann (Priscilla Lane) and they’re a perfect lesson in contrasts. She’s chipper and peppy; he has to go on diatribes about how the world sucks. Think of them as the Rory and Jess of 1938 (albeit I actually support this relationship). And then you have Jeffrey Lynn’s Felix Dietz. A man who enjoys swinging on garden gates – not kidding – and…..that’s about it. He’s whitebread and because this is 1938 he’s supposed to be the “right” guy for Ann. Mickey may end up committing suicide, but Ann barely waits till his body is cold before throwing herself at the man she calls “Dietz.” Mickey knew, Ann. He knew. You might as well have killed himself yourself. And for what, a guy who’s idea of foreplay is swinging on a garden gate door like a nine-year-old.
Lori choosing Rick over Shane in The Walking Dead (2004)
Am I cheating including a television show? Kim did it so I feel this is acceptable. And the Dames all knew I’d include this. So, full disclosure I hated Andrew Lincoln WELL before The Walking Dead. His guppy-like look and general pastiness never sat well with me. Not to mention he played Edgar Linton in an adaptation of Wuthering Heights once. (BTW, Cathy choosing Edgar over Heathcliffe hangs over this five!) So, in general, I’m anti-Andrew Lincoln. But, if we’re looking at JUST Walking Dead…..I mean how is Jon Bernthal’s Shane NOT surrounded by women AND men desperate to jump on him. I mean, this is the end of the world and he’s possibly the sexiest thing left in the world. In fact, I question the character’s judgement about Lori (Sarah Wayne Callies) more than anything else. How could she decide that a dude like Rick is more impressive? OK, Shane was a taste crazy by the end, but the man NEVER got any credit for anything. He risked his life like a bunch of times and barely got a “thank you.” No respect. If anything the creators of the show could rectify this, considering Andrew Lincoln is leaving, by having Zombie Shane stride in, rip Rick’s heart out and declare that he’s king of the fucking zombies.
Diana choosing David over John Gage in Indecent Proposal (1993)
Okay, so you should know if I EVER got stuck in a “millionaire offers insane amount of money for a woman” type of movie…..I’d pick the millionaire. I think it’s why these movies aren’t written by women because they’d probably realize these guys are better than the schmucks they’re dating. In Adrian Lyne’s film you have poor lovers Diana and David (played by Demi Moore and Woody Harrelson) who are offered a million dollars if Diana spends the weekend with millionaire John Gage (Robert Redford). Let’s take stock: It’s Robert. Fucking. Redford. The man is an icon. Enough said. Like Four Daughters, John pretends to be a dick because he knows Diana really loves David, proof of how much better a person John is. Smooth move, Demi!
Betsy choosing Jack over Tommy in Honeymoon in Vegas (1992)
Honeymoon in Vegas is a film I believe has to come up with a reprehensible reason for Sarah Jessica Parker’s Betsy to return to her dumbass boyfriend, Jack (Nicolas Cage) because there’s no other way. Jack is a guy who avoids marriage like the plague, and even before he and Betsy meet Vegas cardshark/millionaire Tommy Korman (James Caan), Jack is coming up with excuses to avoid marrying this woman who has put in years with him. And considering Betsy can’t tell she’s being pushed aside says a lot about her character – or how the screenwriters see her character. Jack ends up falling into a $60,000 debt to Tommy, so Tommy offers Jack the ability to wipe out his debt if he can “borrow” Betsy. See, Betsy looks exactly like Tommy’s deceased wife. There’s nothing overtly sexual about his pick-up, he comes off as lonely. To him, Betsy is a “second chance” from God. Jack convinces – yes, let’s remember he convinces – Betsy to go with Tommy. Tommy proceeds to take Betsy to Hawaii and generally acts like a gentleman. Now, because this is a movie where we’re meant to root for Jack the only card the movie has to play to make the audience hate Tommy is turn him into a possessive, controlling James Caan-type character at the end. Not only does this not make sense from a character standpoint, it plays like a deus ex machina. You know Jack ended up dumping Betsy after six months.
This topic is kind of funny for me, because I usually am pretty cool with how the romantic pairings turn out in films. Of COURSE Bridget should have chosen Mark Darcy every single time. Sabrina was right to pick Linus. It’s only once in awhile where I think…yeah…that’s not how that was supposed to go. And so, here are mine:
Jo saying no to Laurie and marrying Friedrich instead in Little Women (1994)
I am ONLY referring to this one particular version of the story. In the book, I’m honestly fine with both Jo’s rationale for turning down Laurie, and later her falling in love with Friedrich. But in this movie? She turns down Christian Bale and then marries Gabriel Byrne? Nope, sorry, nuh uh. Try again.
Bella choosing Edward over Jacob throughout the entire Twilight Saga (2008-2012)
It actually irritates me how much mental energy I have spent on this insipid love triangle. I feel this way about the book AND the films. Bella has to fundamentally change everything about who she is in order to be with Edward, who is also psychologically dangerous and damaging to her. And then there is Jacob. He respects her (mostly). She doesn’t have to alter herself in any way. Not physically, emotionally, or anything else in order to be with him. She can only be herself with Jacob. And he gives her space without creepily sneaking into her bedroom to watch her while she sleeps.
Ilsa choosing Victor Laszlo over Rick Blaine in Casablanca (1942)
I don’t even have anything to say about this because it’s the wrong choice. It’s 100% the wrong choice.
Padme Amidala choosing death over her children in Star Wars: Episode III — Revenge of the Sith (2005)
It’s bad enough that the former bad ass leader of her own country falls in love with a whiny Jedi who can’t even remember to be grateful for being FREED FROM SLAVERY TO LIVE ON A WEALTHY PLANET and do whatever he wants. Nope. She loves the guy, and then marries him for reasons that still don’t make sense. And then, after he goes and kills a roomful of children, she’s so heartbroken that she would rather die than take care of her own children? She was like this fierce fighter and then she dies of a broken heart? Gah!
Susanna choosing Alfred after Samuel dies and Tristan leaves in Legends of the Fall (1994)
Susanna comes into the Ludlow family through her engagement to Samuel. But then he dies in the war and she takes up with Tristan for awhile. They don’t get married, but she gets pregnant and loses the baby, and then he leaves to sail the world. She doesn’t want to be alone, so she ends up, ultimately, marrying Alfred. And they are very unhappy although he doesn’t seem to know it. But, really, she should have gone back to New York after Samuel died and run away from the entire beautiful Ludlow family. She should have chosen HERSELF.
Eliza Doolittle choosing Henry Higgins over Freddy in My Fair Lady (1964)
My Fair Lady is one of my least favorite musicals, because Audrey Hepburn can’t sing (and doesn’t) and Rex Harrison is creepy. But Jeremy Brett’s Freddy Eynsford-Hill is actually cute and sweet and, if a little stupid, totally adores Eliza. So why, in the name of God, would she stay with an abusive, manipulative autocrat who thinks he owns her? Why would she go back to a man who, rather than admitting he needs her, tells her to bring him his slippers? Fuck this movie so hard.
Ilsa choosing Victor Laszlo over Rick in Casablanca (1942)
Yeah, sure, he’s a Resistance hero or whatever, but c’mon—there is no way that Ilsa really loves Victor. She might love his ideals and his heroism, but what happens when the war is over and she’s stuck with boring-ass Paul Henreid? Meanwhile, Rick is over here suffering for her. Pfft.
Alison choosing Ben over Single Motherhood in Knocked Up (2007)
I hate Knocked Up, but I especially hate that the film makes a woman getting together with a boring, childish dude better than just being a single mom. Katherine Heigl should just raise that baby on her own and avoid the necessity of supporting her husband and putting up with his loser friends.
The Princess choosing Ahmad over Jaffar in The Thief of Bagdad (1940)
So now I’m going to get a bit esoteric. The 1940 film of The Thief of Bagdad is an excellent adaptation of the Thousand and One Nights story, but it was the first time when I actually questioned the Princess’s decision to not just marry Jaffar. Yeah, he’s evil and all, but he actually seems to love her and he’s way more interesting and exciting than Ahmad, who would probably just spend his time looking at his own reflection. Evil wizard > boring aristocrat.
Emma Peel choosing Peter Peel over John Steed in The Avengers (1961-1969)
OK, listen. There is no doubt that John Steed and Emma Peel are in love. I have written a helluva lot on the subject. So when Diana Rigg decided to leave the show, the writers did the absolute worst thing they could have possibly done and resurrected Emma Peel’s husband Peter to whisk her off, ending the relationship between the two leads with a stupid and out of character tag scene. Yes, it gave us probably the most emotional final scene in The Avengers, but no way in hell was Emma ever going to be happy with her husband (and she’s not – a later conversation in The New Avengers informs us that she gets divorced).
I’m a shipper. I’ll fully admit it. Get ready for some fangirl-ing, shipping and good old fashioned denial as I dive into some of my favourite (though never-fulfilled) ships.
Juliet choosing Peter over Mark in Love Actually (2003)
I’m a huge sucker for Love Actually. Yes, I know it’s problematic, and no I don’t really care. I fell really, really hard for Andrew Lincoln’s lovelorn Mark. He’s adorable, and we could only wish for someone to look at us the way he looks at Keira Knightley’s Juliette. Okay… it’s a bit stalkery, but he looks like Andrew Lincoln, so he can’t be all bad, right? So, it makes it all the more heart-breaking when she kisses him and walks back inside to be with her husband. Someday he’ll get the girl (even though that still hasn’t happened…).
Melanie choosing Jake over Andrew in Sweet Home Alabama (2002)
Sweet Home Alabama was high school for me. I was the obnoxious kid wanting to get out of suburbia to an east coast school, so Melanie just spoke to me. While in my old age I’ve come to appreciate the delightfulness that is Josh Lucas… how did she not pick Andrew? I mean, Patrick Dempsey!! Look at the man in a suit! Not to mention he absolutely adores her, and there’s no reason what-so-ever as to why they wouldn’t work… except for maybe his mother.
Oliver choosing his Fiancee over Elio in Call Me By Your Name (2017)
Okay, we don’t really have the third point in the love triangle, but Oliver still chose wrong. The chemistry, the adorableness, think of all the nights of unbridled, short shorts dancing which could be had. Plus, Elio is just so heart-broken by everything, the last twenty minutes of that movie absolutely destroyed me. *Sob*
Jo choosing Friedrich over Laurie in Little Women (1994)
Yes, I know why she choose Friedrich. Ultimately, their characters work better together, and she’d be happier with him. Yes, Laurie and Jo would just argue. I don’t care… I mean… Christian Bale. Look at the adorable, fan video worthy material here. I may be kind of a sap… or, perhaps this is psychological and I’m still the young girl watching this movie, hoping to find a Laurie of my very own…
Rose choosing the Human Doctor over the Tenth Doctor in Doctor Who (2006-Present)
Okay, I’m cheating a bit here with a television reference. However, the 10 and Rose storyline in Doctor Who absolutely broke me. You don’t get much better chemistry than what David Tennant and Billie Piper have on screen. Rose and The Doctor have a love which spans universes and even regenerations! *Sob*. I mean, there is the small torturous problem of his super-duper 900+ year old life-span and the fact that she’s only a human. However, I’ve never cried quite as hard as in “Doomsday” (S2E13) when The Doctor and Rose have to say goodbye… so when she is given a mortal clone of the Doctor in her last episode… it feels cheap.