~ William Shakespeare, Hamlet, I, i
Yesterday I wrote about three conventions of the mystery/suspense novel screenplay that I see as less than realistic. Today I’m taking on two other conventions that give me pause. So–
List, list, O list, while I explain:
- A man meets a woman. He’s middle-aged, whatever that is these days. If he’s not over the hill, he’s making steady progress in that direction. He doesn’t have an uber-fat bank account, but he has an interesting job. He doesn’t teach third grade. The woman is young, a good twenty or thirty years younger than he. Her hair is long and silky, and legs are long and shapely, and the rest of her is shapely, too. And she’s smart and talented. The man is attracted to her. And guess what. She’s attracted to him, too! In fact, she falls in love with him, if not at first sight, at least at second. By third sight, they’re in bed together. Or sometimes it doesn’t take that long.
- See #1, except in this instance the man and the woman are closer in age. They may be young; they may be older. Otherwise the details are the same.
I thought about these literary relationships while watching a movie on Netflix. I won’t mention the title, but the leads are played by January Jones (long blonde hair and a pleasing visage, etc.) and a male actor whose name I still don’t know because I didn’t watch the credits.
They’re about the same age. They’re lawyers (a common profession); he’s just been hired as an assistant prosecutor. She introduces herself and says, “I’m your boss.” That evening, or maybe it’s the next, she invites him to her house. Etc.
Please note: I’m not talking about romances–Harlequin, Danielle Steele,* Judith Krantz,* the gothics–because in this genre, these are standard relationships. That’s what we read them for.
I don’t want writers of mystery and suspense to scuttle them altogether.
And I’m not saying May-December romances don’t occur in real life. If they didn’t, we wouldn’t have the term May-December romance.
But it would be nice to read now and then about an attraction between a middle-aged male and a middle-aged female character–a female character with hair styled for convenience, shoes chosen for comfort, ten or twelve extra pounds she isn’t trying to lose, and close enough to his age to remember the same TV commercials.
Is that too much to ask? Obviously not. The British manage it all the time. Consider As Time Goes By. Lionel and Jean meet after being apart for thirty-eight years. They look like they’ve been apart thirty-eight years, too. And the series doesn’t suffer.
It’s true that initially, before he sees Jean again, Lionel has designs on Jean’s daughter, but she’s not interested–more power to her–and he doesn’t suffer either.
And I am unanimous in that.
Thank you for listing.
Quotation verified at No Fear Shakespeare.