I just finished reading Sally Thorne’s The Hating Game and yes, I know, I’m really late to this party but what a truly lovely book it is! Fun, warm and real. It had some bits that didn’t quite work for me but I’m not here to do a book review. I’m here to talk about the tropes and clichés that pepper our rom-coms and other romances and how, if they’re done right, they never get boring.
The Hating Game has two tropes that it uses to maximum and amazing effect; Enemies to Friends and Opposites attract. Some of the others that we see so often are Second Chance Romances, the poor/rich divide, The Ugly Duckling, Bad Boys, The Love Triangle, the list is endless.
And, then there is one of my least favourite tropes – Instalove. No, I don’t mean falling in love on Instagram. I mean the falling in love instantly variety. How does this work exactly? You look at a person and decide “Ok. I’ll love that one.” Wouldn’t this be more in the lust category than love? “I want to jump his/her bones.” seems more likely than “I will marry that stranger in the corner and live happily ever after with them.” But then, what do I know? Orkut romances had just found their footing when I was single and even that was considered a distant second to the good old fashioned way of meeting someone at work or through friends…I would be lost in today’s world of Tinder and Instagram dating.
On that front, Second Chance Romances are, in my opinion, effortless. The couple has already finished falling in love, they just need to discover that they never stopped. Easy Peasy. One of my favourite tropes all round. One of my favourite second chance romances, and I think I’ve said this a hundred times is Again the Magic by Lisa Kleypas. What a hero McKenna is! I’m sorry Joshua Templeman of The Hating Game but McKenna has you beat.
Another popular trope and one that is very much a part of The Hating Game is the Enemies to Lovers trope. While Sally Thorne did a great job writing this one, no one did it better than Julia Quinn in The Viscount Who Loved Me. Anthony and Kate truly hated one another in the beginning and their interactions and squirmishes are the stuff of legends. Their transition from enemies to friends to lovers is so smooth that you don’t question it for a second. Their romance was everything you’ve dreamed of and wished for. At least, I know I have.
Speaking of Opposites Attract, to me there truly isn’t a better example than my own. When W and I started dating, we shocked everyone who knew us. We had, literally, nothing in common. I read a book a day. The last book he’s read was Tinkle and even that was probably under duress. Sleep defines his mood, his day, his very existence. I can operate on two hours of sleep without blinking. He’s into sports and was an exceptional Rugby player. I have the hand-eye coordination of a drunk goat. And yet, here we are. 8 years, marriage, a child and a million fights later, we’re still together. On parallel tracks but heading in the same direction. It is our own version of living happily ever after. And at the end of the day, trope or not, isn’t that what it is all about? Defining and charting your own happily ever after? After all, you’re the ones who have to live it.