L Is for List, List, O List: #atozchallenge



List, list, O list!
If thou didst ever thy dear father love —

~ 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

“Judi Dench” by Thore Siebrands is licensed under CC BY-2.0

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.

Image of couple by picnic_fotographie via Pixabay.com



6 thoughts on “L Is for List, List, O List: #atozchallenge

  1. I agree, middle aged women are rather under represented both in books and movies, especially if we compare it to middle aged men. What’s more, if there are older women, they are still “shapely”, with the whole package of not looking their age. What is it about normal middle aged women you also described that makes them so boring even the imagination of writers can’t do anything with them?


    1. I was in my forties when I realized I was no longer reading fiction about the very young. The lack of women in major roles is more common in American movies and television, I think. I wonder who writers think are watching–or who would watch if there were a more diverse cast of characters, age and shape-wise.

      Thanks for commenting.


    1. No, it’s not in mysteries. I’ve watched As Time Goes By several times–each time it ran on the local public television station, and I believe that was three times (my station likes re-runs). I would watch it again.

      Thanks for commenting and for leaving a link. I forget that last part.


  2. Happy to have found my way here today and to this post. Yes, yes, yes, to wishing for more realistic relationships, and kudos to the British for managing to portray them with apparent ease we could learn much from.


  3. I wonder if American actresses would be less concerned with aging–and plastic surgery–if there were more roles for older actresses available to there here. I’m very happy you found your way here. Thanks for commenting.


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