Movie three (2008) reverses the roles. A gifted male skater, whose partner has broken her leg, recruits a Latino female hockey player with a killer check. To be fair, at the end of this movie they only promise to skate together, not to marry, although romantic firecrackers are exploding all over the place.
In movie four (2010) the dreamboat male skater has retired from skating, and the gorgeous ex-hockey player pairs up with a disgraced speed skater to reach elite levels in three months, no less! Their partnership only coalesces when they have sex. (Of course, their performance at Worlds is stunning even though they have quarreled and not practiced together for the previous two weeks, and he runs in so late they don’t even warm up. But, hey, this is Hollywood!) The movie ends with a marriage proposal, but bad-boy speed skater has not learned anything other than that he loves her and figure skating, and I have no realistic expectation that this ill-suited partnership can last into a fifth movie.
So what is happening here? Is happy-ever-after no longer an expectation for romance? Maybe happy-until-the-lights-come-up is as much as we can expect. What message are we sending to young people if we are content with short-term romance that feels good for a few moments in bed and requires nothing of us when the fizz has gone out of the relationship?
Perhaps I am too cynical to appreciate romance. (Or too aware of the grip of the sin nature.) But I’m wondering: is this the direction that romance writing and movies are going these days—short-term love is good enough to count as a happy ending? Realism means not even pretending that love will last?