As I’m currently writing 3 different romantic comedies at various stages right now, I’ve been thinking a lot about love. Specifically, how couples bring each other into balance a.k.a. “You complete me.” What specifically makes us love our favourite pairs? So I did an informal poll with the following question:
Who are your fav fictional couples and how do they bring each other into balance? Like Harry wanting out of there after sex in ten minutes and Sally picking out china patterns in her head?
Initially, I was looking at romantic couples – these were some of the answers.
- Morticia & Gomez (The Addams Family): practical vs romantic
- Mindy & Danny (The Mindy Project): Mindy needs the straightforwardness from Danny and she gives him a more broad and open view of the world.
- Ron & Tammy 2 (Parks & Rec): She’s out there, wild in a bad way and Ron is so conservative. She’s catnip to him.
- Ned & Chuck (Pushing Daisies): Chuck is all about whimsy and spontaneity and fun whereas Ned is a constant worrier. Ned settles her down and she opens him up. Perfection.
- Jack and Sally (The Nightmare Before Christmas): He’s a head-in-the-clouds dreamer and she’s a real world worrier.
- Leslie & Ben (Parks & Rec): Ben tends to temper Leslie’s crazy when needed, but otherwise just gives her unconditional support to reach as high and as far as she can (which is pretty high and far). Leslie gives Ben a push when self-doubt gets in his own way, and also gives him unconditional support. Basically, they’re awesome as individuals and as a team, unstoppable.
- Hoban & Zoe Washburne (Firefly): She’s strong, brave, a little impenetrable. He’s goofy, capable, charmingly clumsy. He admires her completely. They are madly in love.
All great and true points which really illustrate the idea of balance. There was still something else I wanted to express, though. A thought at the back of my mind that I couldn’t quite articulate. Then my friend Jesse jumped into the conversation with these “couples”: Bert and Ernie, C3P0 and R2D2, Leonard and Sheldon, and Felix and Oscar, and their “love between imbalanced personalities.”
As he said, “In each case, the straightmen (Bert, C3P0, Sheldon, and Felix) are highly intelligent and neurotic. Body-image wise, they are like their character, straight and narrow. They are also portayed as loving boring things (Bert: “Wow! These boring stories are really exciting!”; Sheldon with his Fun with Flags; etc.). Their personalities are somewhat repressed, and are often very frustrated by their partners, the comics (Ernie, R2D2, Leonard, and Oscar). Without their comics, the straightmen wouldn’t start out watchable, their humanity is revealed through the relationships, to the point where they become lovable in their own right.
The comics, on the other hand, are often more slovenly and silly, These are physically more rounded characters, but emotionally immature. But they are to some degree one-trick ponies who I think would be tiresome to watch on their own for very long prior to the doubleact. Their quirks and breadth is best understood in contrast to their straightmen.
At it’s best, such double acts reveal a journey through φιλíα (philia). Whereby they start as relationships of utility and convenience riddled with cynicism and quarrel; and yet over time the character balance within the relationships (which needn’t be perfectly symmetrical) shows the good of both the straight and the round and leads to warm friendships of the good.”
First off, I love this idea of “the straight and the round.” But more importantly. he nailed what I’d wanted to express. Why do I-we-love great fictional couples so much? Yes, the specificity of how they balance each other provides the fun of it. But the heart of the matter, for me at least, is that individually, each one would be tiresome to watch on their own for long. It is in making two solos into this one duo that rises them up. Alone they’re great; in contrast to each other as a cohesive pairing, they are sublime.
That’s what I fall in love with. That’s what I promise to give to you with my next book. Now, tell me your favs and why.
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