Love can come sometimes come from the most unexpected places. The question is, are we willing to give it a chance, especially when it does not fit into our worldview?
Made in Manhattan, by Lauren Layne, was published earlier this year. Violet Townsend is an heiress/socialite who has spent her entire life within the borders of the Upper East Side. She has known since she was young how to dress, who the right people are, and how to please them. Working for a family friend, her newest task is to ensure that her boss’s newly found grandson and heir fit into their world.
Cain Stone has, up to this point, spent his entire life in Lousiana. Having been uprooted from his home and re-planted in New York City, he is only in it for the money. Cain is not interested in either his grandmother or Violet’s attempt to remake him into a man that fits into the city’s elite.
Once they get to know one another, Violet and Cain discover that they are not so different. They could even be more than begrudging friends. But before that can happen, both have to be willing to put aside their emotional baggage and open up.
In theory, dating, either via traditional means or via internet dating should be simple. But love and relationships are never simple.
In Sarah Archer’s new novel,The Plus One, Kelly is a genius when it comes to robotics. But when it comes to dating and romance, she isn’t exactly the most sought after bachelorette in Silicon Valley. With her 30th birthday and her younger sister’s wedding coming up, Kelly feels the pressure to have at least a prospective boyfriend handy.
So she decides to create one. Ethan is everything she has ever wanted in a boyfriend. But she knows that at some point, she must reveal the truth and say goodbye to him.
I find the plot of this book to be infinitely clever, especially for those of us for whom dating and romantic relationships are not so easy to find. A sort of modern gender swap reboot of Pygmalion, I loved the question of what if we could create our perfect partner instead of wading into the singles scene and hope that we meet the right person.
Sometimes, when we are lonely and desperate, it’s easier to create a vision of perfection instead of going out and fighting for what we want.
In the 1987 movie, Mannequin (which is basically a 1980’s reboot of Pygmalion and My Fair Lady), Jonathan Switcher (Andrew McCarthy) is an artist who seems to lose more jobs than he can get. He finally hits a career high when he creates the perfect mannequin, Emmy (Kim Cattrall) who only comes to life in his eyes. He also falls in love with her. Will this utopia last or is Jonathan just fooling himself?
What is interesting about this film is that it speaks to the question of what is reality and what is fantasy. It also speaks to the deep need for companionship and love when we feel that we have neither.
The best teen movies are the ones that transcend their genre and generations. Regardless of our age and how old we were when these movies were released, we can still relate to them.
Two of my favorites are based in classic literature, Taming Of The Shrew by William Shakespeare and Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw. They were also rebooted into Broadway musicals, Taming Of The Shrew remade into Kiss Me, Kate and Pygmalion remade into My Fair Lady.
10 Things I Hate About You is the story of the Stratford Sisters. Biana (Larissa Oleynik) is extremely eager to be popular and date Joey Donner (Andrew Keegan). But her hilarious and cringe inducing overprotective father (Larry Miller) will not allow Bianca to date until her older sister Kat (Julia Stiles) is dating. Kat has no interest in dating anyone. Cameron James (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is new to the school and falls in love with Bianca instantly. He uses Joey, who pays Patrick Verona (Heath Ledger), to date Kat, so he can go on a date with Bianca. The end result is very interesting and very entertaining.
I love this movie. The screenwriters kept the Beatrice and Benedict relationship between Kat and Patrick (as well as some of the Shakespearean language from the play) while dulling the sexist and misogynistic language of the original text. The late Health Ledger (pre Batman and pre Oscar for Brokeback Mountain) has a massive potential as an actor, that potential shines through in his later roles. Julia Stiles is another up and comer who proves that she has the talent to go very far.
She’s All That starts at the tail of senior year. Popular Zach (Freddie Prinze Jr) has just been dumped by his girlfriend (Jodi Lyn O’Keefe). Zach’s friend Dean (the late Paul Walker), makes a bet that Zach can turn any of his female classmates into prom queen. Zach’s choice is Laney (Rachael Leigh Cook), the artsy outsider.
I love this movie. It’s one of those movies that I can find on cable and brought back to that time in my life. The coup that makes this movie stand out from other teen movies of this era is that Zach and Laney are each dealing with their own internal pressures. As their relationship grows, they find a way to deal with those pressures. This is another movie full of then up and coming performers (Usher, Gabrielle Union (who also had a part in 10 Things I Hate About You), Anna Paquin, Dule Hill) who have had steady careers since then.
Both of these movies have quotable lines and soundtracks that fit in so perfectly with era that they premiered.