This article validates all my complaints about how movies and TV shows always couple people off in the end:
…his book is a critical examination of the way contemporary novels, movies, TV shows and pop songs choose to ignore, reject or grossly oversimplify the experience of singleness in favour of the couple, making singletons “one of the most despised sexual minorities one can be.”
Now, before you roll your eyes and accuse Cobb of being melodramatic, consider the way in which our culture upholds the search for romantic love and “the One” as the Holy Grail of human experience. Even in cultural narratives that are ostensibly empowering to singles – from Sex and the City, Bridesmaids and Girls to Beyoncé’s All The Single Ladies – the overall message (usually aimed at women) is clear: Go ahead and be yourself, but if you want real happiness, make sure someone puts a ring on it.
This is not to say there aren’t unhappy marrieds out there – just think of all the bickering couples in any recent Judd Apatow vehicle. But in the end, these couples tend to work it out. Either that or they leave, and wind up coupled to someone else. Because singledom, in pop culture, is not a way to live but a way to get from one partner to the next.
…once I began to look at pop culture through Cobb’s lens, the primacy of coupledom was everywhere. I know dozens of happy single people in real life, but why is their experience ignored in books and movies? Why, despite study after study establishing that marriage and children don’t make people any happier, do we persist in craving (and creating) narratives that assure us they will? Even complex drama fails to avoid the trap of assuming that conventional coupledom conquers all. The great Byronic hero of our TV age – Don Draper – is reflected mainly through the women he falls for, and struggles to stay faithful to. And the same was true of Tony Soprano before him.