My Thoughts on “The Hating Game” and Darcy-Like Characters in Rom Coms

This weekend we watched a romantic comedy on Hulu called “The Hating Game.” Today’s post delves into the core plot, so if you want to watch a decent workplace rom com, feel free to watch it before continuing to read.

The core premise of The Hating Game is that Lucy and Joshua work in the same office (their desks face each other) and strongly dislike each other. Of course, it’s a rom com, so by the end of the movie they decide they actually love each other. The movie does a decent job of revealing their backstory and motivations to make both characters more likeable than their first impressions (for the audience and to each other).

However, the movie follows a model established by Pride & Prejudice (and probably previously from Shakespeare) that the male lead, Joshua, be cold, distant, uncommunicative, and downright mean on and off throughout most of the story. Yet in the end it excuses all that behavior through a super predictable twist reveal that he was actually doing something nice for Lucy behind the scenes the whole time.

Why. Is. This. Romantic?

Said another way: Why is this a model worth following by any romantic comedy? Pride & Prejudice is about so much more than the actions of Mr Darcy–why is that the part that so many other rom coms have copied over the years?

In The Hating Game, the movie establishes that Joshua doesn’t even acknowledge Lucy’s presence the first time he sees her, and for months he actively belittles her privately and publicly. Even after they realize there’s sexual tension between them, he switches abruptly from engaging to ice-cold, and there are multiple instances of him nefariously plotting something behind the scenes that he could have just communicated to Lucy.

Granted, we watched the movie from start to finish, just like I’ve watched a dozen other movies with Darcy-like characters (all of which have a spectrum of justifications for their Darcy’s behavior). But what if rom coms (or the romantic fantasies they inspire) simply stopped using this trope? I would absolutely support that in lieu of characters I can actively root for.

What do you think? Do you think this is a trope worth continuing?

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