(Is it okay to use invented words like "angsty"?) Is love better when it's angsty? How do we reconcile that we dream of "happily ever after" with the fact that we prefer to watch media where the couple doesn't end up together? We, as a culture, prefer it when love goes wrong. We like heartache. We like angst.
Don't believe me? Take a look at the American Film Institute's 100 Years... 100 Passions list. Now yes, this list is inherently flawed. It's impossible to pick the best on-screen romances from a century of movies and rank them objectively. Such a list must be subjective and can't please everyone. Still take a look at the romance movies in the top ten.
1. Casablanca (1942)
2. Gone with the Wind (1939)
3. West Side Story (1961)
4. Roman Holiday (1953)
5. An Affair to Remember (1957)
6. The Way We Were (1973)
7. Doctor Zhivago (1965)
8. It's a Wonderful Life (1946)
9. Love Story (1970)
10. City Lights (1931)
Seven of these movies follow a consistent pattern. At the end of the film the man and woman are not together. Frequently there relationship was interrupted or perhaps it was an unlikely match from the start. Maybe one of them died. They have regrets. They are heartbroken. They're love was angsty.
Only 3 of these 10 movies end with the couple still together. And I would argue "It's a Wonderful Life" isn't even a romance movie at all. It's a great, inspirational Christmas movie, but I don't look at it as a romance. So there are only 2 movies where the couple actually ends up together. One is "An Affair to Remember" and Hello! is that ever an angsty couple. The second is "City Lights", a silent movie with Charlie Chaplan where his tramp labors to get the money for a blind girl to have a operation.
What does this mean?
When love is easy, when it comes without pain and sacrifice, we are unhappy. When it is too easy to win someone's love, we no longer want it. We want to feel heartache. We want endings to be uncertain. That's why Disney romances and "happily ever after" are for kids. And unhappily-ever-after angst is for adults.
Which brings me to what happened on tonights Grey's Anatomy.
Burke and Christina's Wedding
I think I predicted it a few weeks ago when I said Burke and Christina's wedding would not happen. It couldn't actually happen and work out. It would have been too easy an out for the series and too happy an ending for the couple. You can almost feel it coming in the air on a TV show. Has the couple been happy and angst-free for the last 3 episodes? Then watch out. Because something is about to go majorly wrong soon. I had the same feeling about Derek and Meredith. They were together and somewhat happy. That couldn't last long because they are the couple that's meant to not be together. They are the couple that is meant to be most angsty.
As for Burke and Christina, I think their marriage could have worked out. I thought the moment where Christina was willing to fake ignorance to buoy Burke's self-esteem spoke volumes on her growth. Beyond the legitimate incompatibility of a couple with Burke's over-eagerness to commit and Christina's total commitmentphobia, they had seemed to find common ground and Christina was easing into her position as a fiance. She was trying to change for him, which of course, is subsequently why she was bound to be rejected.
What I don't understand about the episode is Christina's reaction at the end. She seemed to be feeling two very different things at once. Perhaps that's more realistic but I'm confused. She's obviously upset Burke left and didn't marry her. But she's also yelling "I'm free" the minute Meredith cuts her out of the wedding dress. In some ways the mixed emotion is more Christina than anything else. She hadn't seemed wholly into the wedding details in the past few weeks. And she needed to keep a bit of herself by doing surgery right before her wedding.
In all likelyhood Burke will leave Christina for a while in the hopes that it will make her more interested in him. But I'm kind of hoping she reasserts herself into being the Christina of old. I want her to be happy not to have gotten married. I want her to be even more of an emotionaly distant workaholic than ever. If she suddenly falls to Earth and realizes she needs Burke and acts like she isn't Christina, then she'll loose herself completely.
Derek and Meredith
I'm really disappointed in the way this couple has turned out throughout the third season. I thought, despite the relationship with the Vet, that Meredith returned to Derek too easily. For gods sake she gave him an ultimatium and he chose Addison over her. That says it all. He had treated her terribly and she seemed to fall right back into his arms.
Now that she's had some tragedy strike in the form of her drowning and the death of her mother, he says she has been leaving the relationship. Yes, she hasn't been as wholly focused on Derek as she was in season 1. But for good reason. She's been having real trama in her family life and she's been preoccupied helping Christina. I don't really understand where Derek was coming from with those lines, other than his already expressed displeasure with Meredith's pseudo-suicide. They seemed to pop up out of nowhere in my mind. There hadn't been many happy Meredith/Derek scenes recently, but then again there hadn't been many unhappy Meredith/Derek scenes either.
But what was with Meredith's reaction? "We have a wedding to go to." She completely ignores the talk they need to have saying nothing either way. She was also inviting him to break up with her. But then Derek goes into Emo!Derek mode and says he loves her and couldn't leave her. He seems surprisingly attached lately. He's almost too attached to the relationship and yet totally ignoring most of Meredith's needs. He didn't comfort her when she needed it such as after the incident with her father or her internship test.
The ending at the church suggests that Derek and Meredith's relationship is over. "It's over." Meredith says several times. So my prediction, which for some reason I love to give, is that they will break up. I predict Derek will start seeing or at least pursuing this new intern Alexis (?) Grey. He'll see her as a fresh, new, less complicated Meredith but be rather disappointed. Meredith is somewhat emotionally sapped. I'm not sure how much she fights for Derek. I wonder if they'll spend all of season 4 apart. They will most likely get back together. But I sense it can't happen till at least halfway through season 4. Probably right at Christmas time.
This confused the heck out of me. Calli got Chief Resident, Bailey's old position. Then Bailey is very upset, feeling like she failed George. Then Chief Webber names Derek the new Chief but he doesn't accept. So does that mean Bailey gets that position? If so, why is she upset? Or is Bailey no longer Chief Resident and not Chief of Surgery? I'm kind of confused about this.
Izzy and George
I still don't get why Izzy suddenly loves George. I don't like seeing her chase him. Yet George's marriage to Calli seems like a lesson in miscommunication. They don't seem to belong together either. And George's leaving the program will likely drive an even bigger wedge between them. Where is he gonna go? Will he start over at a new program?
I don't know what ending I want for him. I'm happy he rejected Rebecca only to regret it and go running back. I kind of want to see him punished for acting like an asshole to women indescriminately. I thought he worked best with Addison. He seemed to find common ground with her and he was even kind to her at multiple points. I guess that relationship is nixed because she is running off to her own series. It's called "Private Practice". I wonder if it'll last 4 episodes. I bet she'll be back on Grey's for guest appearances very quickly.