Being an early 2000s girl, I was well aware of the many shades of rom-coms by the time I turned fifteen. Be it Bollywood or Hollywood, I have watched an ample number of romantic comedies to accept that I am deeply in awe of the classiness of the genre. And I can also declare that I will never be the girl who gets lucky and finds her Prince Charming after going through a fabulously romantic and funny love story. The reason is simple – I am a Middle-Class Indian Girl a.k.a MCIG. Rom-coms will forever be a routine escape from my mundane life but the fact that I’m moved to tears every time I watch one is terrible. And they are not just tears of joy, watching the star-crossed lovers unite, but also of woe because it has been 20 years of life and I still haven’t had MY MOMENT, and might never have one!
Ok, so let’s get started with 10 reasons why rom-coms will never work for me!
In the words of Mark Twain, ‘The two important days of your life are the day you were born and the day you find out why’. For middle-class people, both days happen to be the same. My story started the day I was born into a middle-class family. These families don’t believe in showing affection-there is love, for you to discover, within limits set by your parents, and society. It is still ambiguous to me whether my parents actually love me, so I have a hard time believing a boy saying he likes me. Honestly, my family has been very supportive in terms of societal standards, but you grow up in the society itself so you can’t really escape. As a girl, you are expected to be quiet, closeted, shy, wear ‘decent’ clothes, and do as you are told, aka being ‘sanskaari’. So you grow up to be so and never have a boyfriend. Imagine that girl as your typical rom-com heroine. Nope!
Also, academics become the priority. Your entire school life is spent trying to ace your science & maths game while you overlook your talents and interests. By the time you reach 10th grade, you are supposed to decide between becoming an engineer or a doctor. You never have time for developing a love life or learning how to engage in basic self-development skills. How will you reply to your fated lover if he/she ever asks you out?
*Sobs in MCIG*
While you’re not allowed to interact with the opposite sex, ‘sex’ is the word you must never utter. Dating, first kisses, and ‘the first time’ does not exist in the Indian culture dictionary. My middle-class homies in their 20s can totally relate that kissing and dating still seem TABOO. So our chances at even imagining having a cute date are ruined. Added to that is the traumatic look people give to couples barely holding hands.
*shudders in MCIG*
I can go on relentlessly about how this is such an issue. My personality is being shy, socially awkward, unable to initiate/sustain conversation, introverted, anxious, etc. I know what you must be thinking- you can still be Laney/Jamie. But in the real world, people seem to only be interested in the total opposite & we can all pretty much agree on this. Another aspect is socializing.
I have engaged in it a few times before, but they have all turned into disasters. And the eye-contact thing, like that of Lord Bridgerton & Miss Sharma, is impossible because I can barely look people in the eye; I look at my feet while walking (and still have never bumped into a potential bae). I also ghost people for no reason and disappear out of the blue regularly.
Embarrassment is another no-no. Christian doing a beautiful proposal for Sophie in Letters to Juliet or Andrew doing one for Margaret in The Proposal will forever be iconic but when I imagine someone doing the same for me, MAN, the cringe is real! Life and my anxiety screw it over more-
-What will all these people think!??
-What do I say to him once he’s done!??
I’m not ready for this!
-Shit, what the hell am I wearing right now! I don’t even have makeup on. He should’ve told me before!
-This is so cute, wait, is anyone recording this? I must look really happy now!
-Ok this is so cringe-y
Even in imagination, outcomes are bizarre. Rom-com leads wake up in perfect make-up and clothes. You, my dear, wear the same bra for days and you can’t go to Gucci’s with your fees!
As a result of my personality, I have no friends. I have acquaintances, but totally unlike Nigel from The Devil Wears Prada. I have no Cher to do me a makeover or a Veronica for support. Who am I to rely on? Might as well wait to get arranged married (*sobs in MCIG*). I have no best friend, obviously, so no scope for falling in love like Jenna and Matt. To be honest, making friends becomes difficult as you grow older. You can no longer bond with someone after fighting over their favorite bus seat or accidentally hitting them.
This author is not hesitant to admit that she is deeply in awe of characters the likes of Lord Bridgerton and Mr. Darcy, completely aware that they do not even exist. All our readers can claim they have been/are in love with fictional characters.
It is both a pain and privilege to read their stories and restrain ourselves from imagining a similar fate. While we love our heroes, we also love the bad boys, like Daniel Cleaver. There are no ‘I burn for you’ moments (why?). The temporary butterflies cast in our bellies serve the privilege while the reality that they don’t exist becomes the pain. As we begin to look for our Mr. Darcy, standards touch the sky and anything beyond that won’t satisfy! So we swipe left to every possible match. At this point I’d like to quote this popular dialogue, ‘Jo hame chahiye use hum nahi chahiye, or jisse hum chahiye woh kisko chahiye’
This is India
Why do we not have proms?!
The jitters it sends through a girl’s mind- ‘Who will ask me for prom, what will I wear, how will I dance?’ are cut apart. Our hopes of dressing up and enjoying a slow dance like Bella & Edward, or participating in a dance-off are shattered. The basketball quarterbacks & cheerleaders don’t exist as most of our schools lack proper sports facilities. We eat homemade lunch in our classes; no scope for cafeteria drama. We wear school uniforms that uglify us & there is a strict rule to have your hair cut short and tied well.
RIP to high school fashion.
Lack of sass
We enjoy savage burns, like that of Bridget to her boss (you go, girl!). When the mean girl teases you, you wish to punch a solid comeback but all you do is come up with an answer after 3 years, in the shower. I have way too many tropes in my head about how I’d reply to that crush when we accidentally meet while changing classes and how smoothly he’d fall for me in just one conversation. In reality, I can barely speak without mumbling at least once and my mind goes completely blank while talking.
Side Character Vibes
Being a rom-com fan, you picture yourself as the main character, while life turns you into the side character. It’s a noble role but when will my love begin? I wish to be the main character too! Another thing is being the third wheel. Amidst Instagram posts of couples, you feel out of place. While you appreciate their love, you long for one too.
*sobs in side character*
Fear of Abandonment
Falling in love, while magical, also brings the fear that this love may one day end. And we are forced to go through heartbreaks multiple times before finding the right person. Heartbreaks affect our lives in much aspects-you lose sleep, and more. Sometimes, the pain inflicted by a certain someone can cloud your mind, making you afraid to try another time.
Fanfiction and fantasy literature have stained our brains with impossible romantic scenes. Finding love is itself a fantasy. As a Bollywood fan, my head is full of the leading lady running through fields fluttering her dupatta, Simran waiting for Raj in a mustard field, the leads breaking into a song every 5 mins and being in sync with their dance and a gush of air majestically sending the heroine’s hair into waves. But since none of this actually ever happens, I am pained. All these years of watching romances have me questioning, ‘What even is the point?’