When I was a kid, I remember all the love triangles being between some jerk who was also the antagonist and the good guy who would win the girl in the end if the girl was the peak. When the guy was the peak, it was a slutty girl who wreaked havoc on the male protagonists life and a good girl who the guy realized was better for him in the end. Neither of these are necessarily realistic on the scale to which they were portrayed, in my opinion. And then things changed. It started with Sweet Home Alabama.
This was the first movie that I had ever scene where the choices were between a great guy and the right guy. And others followed suit. Sure, sometimes the right guy was a bit whiny and annoying to other viewers like Edward, and sometimes it was the great guy who could get annoying, like Stefan. Or maybe it’s just me, I was never an Edward girl. Anyway, this progression seems to have lasted well, and I am grateful for it. While I’m sure that the old way of doing it resurfaces occasionally, it is certainly doesn’t appear to be the norm anymore. Even getting away from the young adult and supernatural storylines, we have This Means War which is cheeky and cute and mostly for grown ups.
There is another little bit of progress that has happened more recently that I also hope is here to stay. It is a triangle that happens behind a greater story and is among complex characters that have more going on in life than just concentrating on the love story. This is what has happened in The Hunger Games Trilogy. I don’t want to give anything away, but anyone who has seen the first movie has also seen the setup for this triangle. It happens closer to the way things happen in life, I think. The characters are complex and care about each other. There is real danger when they weigh the costs of their actions and there is a lot more going on in life. Love is important in our lives, but how often is it the only thing we are concentrating on at a time? I don’t think it’s as much as most romantic moves would lead us to believe, whether they are a comedy or drama. The other beautiful thing about a Hunger Games triangle is that no one is fighting each other. Yes, the men vie for the woman’s attention but they do this without petty competition or degrading each other. They understand what each means to the woman in question and don’t act like children fighting over a toy. I think it’s because those male characters understand that she is a person and not a prize or property. She is an autonomous being with her own set of worries and problems that are completely independent of them and their ability to suck attention out of her.
The Vampire Diaries appears to attempt this at times and even gets close. The same writers do a much better job with the women of The Originals. One brother recognizes that the women are autonomous beings who are capable of making their own decisions just as the men are and the other brother doesn’t recognize anyone as capable of making decisions without him with few exceptions. The exceptions aren’t even based on gender so much as the authority that they have ever had over him and are mainly his parents. The women of the show are consistently being shown to lead different factions, spy, and attempt or succeed in a takeover. They are powerful and even when they are not supernatural, they are strong women. The love stories and triangles here also take a back seat to bigger plot lines. I hope to see this trend grow as I am sure that it already extends well past these few stories.
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