I can’t even express how TIRED—absolutely, bone-deep TIRED—I am of remakes and reboots. Hollywood has been remaking movies and shows that aren’t even that old for years now. It’s almost like rebooting an old movie or show is the only option available to Hollywood writers. Frankly, there are very few things I watch on TV anymore, and very few movies I’m willing to pay to see in a theatre these days because of this tiresome reboot trend. What do I do instead? I read. So, after reading A LOT of books (seriously, it’s a scarily huge number), here’s what I think the movie and TV industry can learn from romance novels.
Heroines come in all shapes and sizes
Movie and TV-land seems to be populated by able-bodied, gorgeous heroines in their 20s. But in romance novels, there are A LOT more options. I’d love to see more heroines in movies and on TV who are more representative of what average women look like. And as it happens, the gorgeous supermodel types we see so often on both big and small screens are NOT average.
For some inspiration, I suggest Hollywood check THESE out:
It’s not just Twilight and Fifty Shades of Grey
Romancelandia is huge and vast. I’m talking vast like the Russian tundra. And yet there is STILL this crazy idea floating around that “romance novel” is synonymous with either Twilight or Fifty Shades of Grey. Well, I’m here to tell you that’s a load of crap. There are millions (that’s right, I said MILLIONS) of well-written, all-kinds-of-awesome romance novels spread across multiple categories that would serve as fantastic inspiration for movie and television writers. We’re going to do a full recommendations list one day soon, but for starters, we humbly suggest:
Relying on shock value for entertainment is just weak storytelling
I blame The Walking Dead for this one. Granted, I loved the show for a long time, but after about 7 seasons, all the shocking deaths just got...old. The first few times a main character was violently killed off, I was properly intrigued. But after it had happened, oh, a dozen or so times, I just started thinking the writers were trying to shock viewers because they were running out of actual story to tell. It always comes as a surprise to critics of the genre, but there are a crap ton of intricately plotted romance novels out there that don’t have to rely on shock value to keep readers positively HOOKED. Don’t believe me? Well, I present THESE as evidence…
Bad guys don’t have to DIE to redeem themselves
The old “the bad guy earns his redemption through death” trope is a tradition that dates back to Hollywood’s Ye Olden Times. I mean, Darth Vadar was a guy who did terrible, terrible things. But when push came to shove, he did the right thing and saved his son in Return of the Jedi. But his redemption came at the cost of his life. Then comes The Rise of Skywalker, some 30-odd-years later, when Kylo Ren/Ben Solo turns his back on the dark side, helps Rey defeat Palpatine, and selflessly gives her his own life force to bring her back from the dead. Does he get to live with the woman he loves and earn a chance to atone for his sins after all this? Nope. He dies. Why? Because JJ Abrams (and head writer Chris Terrio) was too weak a storyteller to write about what happens when a bad guy turns into a good guy. See, it’s HARD to write the story of a man who once did horrible things but wants to make amends. It’s much much easier to kill a bad guy off. So, the message is that if you’ve made horrible mistakes, the only way to atone for them is to DIE? I really don’t want to believe that! And there are a lot of romance writers who don’t want to believe that, either. Maybe Abrams should take a cue or two (or ten) from them.
These authors KNOW what to do with a hero who has done terrible things, but still deserves a second chance.
Happy endings: They’re not JUST for fairy tales
For all you folks who think that everyone has to be miserable at the end of a movie or TV show for it to be realistic, I suggest you quit reading this post and go elsewhere, because that’s a load of CRAP. First of all, who ever said fiction needed to be realistic? And second of all, why SHOULDN’T characters that I’ve come to care about get a happy ending? Are we saying that in real life, no one gets a happy ending? That’s such a bleak view that I actually feel very sorry for anyone who feels that way. There ARE happy people in the world. They’re probably not happy all day every day (without chemical intervention, at least), but I’m sure there are plenty of people who are generally pretty happy with how their lives have turned out. (I mean..I am, so there’s at least ONE.) It’s about time Hollywood learns that giving audiences a hopefully, happy ending is not a crime, it’s a gift—one that we don’t get enough of in movies and television shows these days. (Again—looking at you, Abrams.)
What about y’all? Anything you’d like to add? Let’s discuss!