Mmm, Smells Like Heroine To Me
“You’re a bitch, you’re shallow, you’re selfish,” so says Tracey, a matchmaker on the reality TV show Ready For Love. She’s reporting how she is willing to give it straight up to women about why they’re not married. Mmmm, smells like a potential heroine to me.
Pamela Palmer admits her love of deeply flawed heroes who must be redeemed, but I love me a flawed heroine just as much. The ugly duckling, the woman afraid of intimacy…and the woman who has got a lot of great qualities, but some big honking flaws as well. I think my obsession stems from my mother telling me The Taming of The Shrew as a bed time story when I was growing up. I found the implied comparison between Kate and myself annoying when I was nine, but the trope of a beauty-in-the-rough who must be tamed obviously stuck with me through the years.
In last week’s show we saw some beauty, but also some beasts as the claws come out over the new guys up for grabs. Ben and Enrnesto were presented to their potential matches, and at the end of the show the women were called out on their bad behavior by the experts.
I watched one woman try to hold it together. Her chin would come up and her lips tighten like she’d sucked on a lemon. She did not like anyone—except Ernesto. She was heartily sick of the other women but managed with sheer effort to rapidly pull her emotions together as soon as he came around and present him with a sense of herself: a flash of flame, and a hint of playfulness. Yet she shot herself in the foot running down the other women in the house when she had Ernesto’s full attention. She really just needed to vent a little, but his time is too precious for such ordinary activities and in the end she was sent home, thinking she was misunderstood.
Matt the matchmaker points out that even though she was feeling misunderstood: “She said she was feeling awkward, but her response to feeling uncomfortable is negative. The dream partner is not an automatic drama queen when things aren’t ideal.”
I want to say back to Matt: but so many men marry drama queens! Face it: men love drama. The next guy after Ernesto was Ben and when his ex is around he snaps to. What’s going to happen next? Ben doesn’t know when he’s around her and he relishes the cheap adrenaline rush she brings to the table.
I didn’t really care for the contestant sent home but I was left to ponder what we want in a heroine. Myself, I find a misunderstood heroine so appealing. After all, misunderstood guys are catnip for women.
Edward in Twilight is a classic example of the ‘misunderstood’ guy. He’s not moody and unsocial, daddy, he’s just a vampire who’s trying not to kill me. He even says he’s the bad guy and I should stay away…See, he’s totally misunderstood. (Okay Twi-hard haters out there, don’t leap on me in the comments section. It’s just one example. I’m sure you can think of others.)
We love the misunderstood guy, but what about the misunderstood girl?
Could the misunderstood girl become a new kind of heroine in romance novels?
Or the Selfish Girl?
Or the Anti-social girl?
Or the Scary girl?
Or must heroines all be near-perfect, selfless and endlessly giving?
Can you think of a heroine who’s idiocyncratic and a bit indifferent to others? I think I’d be interested in her—especially if her flaws keep me laughing.
Meanwhile, I’m even more convinced that the hero of Ready For Love is Matt the matchmaker. Again, trying to keep the women from succumbing to competition Matt says: “Men value what they have to earn.” True, Matt, so true. But so do women. We watch these shows because it’s 8 women fighting over one guy—if they aren’t earning his love, I don’t know who is.
Matt, my hero, then says towards the end of the show: “99% of people allow the quality of their life to be affected by strangers. Never be one of them.” Woot!
And then there was this heart-breaking moment for me. There’s a virgin on the show, and Tracey, another matchmaker said to her: “Instead of being vulnerable you talked about being vulnerable. Big difference.” It’s so true, that’s exactly what happened. But come on Tracey, baby steps. This virgin just doesn’t know HOW to allow herself to be vulnerable. And my heart goes out to her because she’s trying.
In the end, I deeply admire the women we watch on these shows who are feeling so uncomfortable, but they just keep trying. These are the women who suck me in and keep me watching.
The guys slay me too. They are intent, focused, and yes, very vulnerable themselves. My heart melts watching them struggle to be honest, to be the good guy, and work hard—but not too hard!—at their job of finding love.