Tag Archives: movies

The Enemies to Lovers Trope Explained

Some of the most iconic characters in film, television, and literature were people who started out as enemies and ended up falling in love with one another. An example of this would be Kylo Ren and Rey from the Star Wars sequel trilogy or Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy from Jane Austen’s beloved novel Pride and Prejudice. But how exactly does this happen? Why is this relationship dynamic so commonly used in the media? And is the trope problematic?

This character dynamic is known as the Enemies to Lovers trope. For many, it seems counterintuitive or even illogical for two people to come together under the context of hate and have those feelings evolve into love, but the trope exists. However, this trope exists because it involves the romantic evolution of two people who have extreme differences at the beginning of the story Still, they overcome those differences by the end of the story and find themselves falling in love.

This dynamic often exists for characters who are competitors, have different values, or have mutually exclusive ways of life in some form or another. Some inherent attribute each character possesses is in opposition to the other, which creates a natural disdain between the two. Throughout of the story, each character begins to see another side to the other or realizes just how much the two actually have in common. By the end of the story, the two characters reach such an intense level of understanding and admiration that they become lovers.

There are several reasons why this trope is appealing. A few reasons include how much tension exists between love interests, the slow burn development of the relationship, and how the trope portrays unconditional love for someone’s true self. But the main appeal that is unique to this trope is best explained by the TikTok content creator @pagemelt, who argues that the tropes’ major elements of honesty and respect make it so appealing. 

courtesy of @pagemelt on TikTok

The creator assesses the trope from the lens of a cis-male and cis-female romantic relationship. She explains that the dynamic of an enemies-to-lovers trope is appealing because it requires a sense of respect and honesty, especially from the male, which is much more difficult to find in real life. She argues that in a patriarchal society where even the kindest and most well-meaning of men can exist, many do not view women as full human beings capable of the same depth and complexity as them. She further elaborates that many of these men are likely not even aware that they unconsciously think this way. When it comes to the enemies-to-lovers trope, she explains that you have to be their equal in order to be someone’s enemy. Therefore, it is impossible to be enemies with a character they view as above or beneath them. As a result, male and female characters who follow this trope have a sense of mutual respect and view each other as equals.

The creator also argues that there is a sense of honesty in the enemies-to-lovers trope which adds to its appeal. Referring back to the concept of inequality in a patriarchal society, the creator explains that there are men under this system who actively participate in feminism which should benefit women living under this system, except for the fact that this participation is largely performative. This performance of feminism is undertaken to prevent any sort of social consequence and secure the favor of the women they are romantically attracted to. In the enemies-to-lovers trope, this performance does not exist for the male love interest because he has no regard for social consequences, at least with his enemy. As a result, there is no performance or deception for the love interest to stay with them. The enemy’s nature does not require either character to put on a charade of who they aspire to be because they are not trying to make the other person like them in the first place. 

In a great enemies-to-lovers story, a mutual sense of respect and honesty lay the foundation for an enticing story and great relationship. But where do we draw the line when an enemies-to-lovers trope goes too far? Many advise consuming these stories with caution and considering the fact that these types of stories are not always realistic. Another, more concrete, line to be drawn is that of abuse. Suppose the characters perform any type of abusive act while in the enemies phase of the relationship. In that case, it is generally agreed upon that this area of the trope enters problematic territory. Additionally, this trope often leaves many readers/viewers wondering, if the morally questionable character undertakes harmful actions initially, should the love and relationship at the end of the story redeem their character? That is subject to interpretation by each consumer and varies by each story.

So what is to be made of the enemies-to-lovers trope? Is it good or bad? Should we keep using it? The answer to that could change depending on the story and the person consuming that story. But overall, the enemies-to-lovers trope is not inherently bad. The enemies-to-lovers trope doesn’t inherently advocate for questionable characteristics or relationship habits. At its best, the enemies-to-lovers trope brings two people together who, under normal circumstances, might not have been able to do so. The enemies-to-lovers trope has been in the media for hundreds of years, and it would be a shame if it went away any time soon. 

Featured Image by Morgan Scruggs

Top 10 Underrated Gems on Netflix

Got decision fatigue? Here’s a list of underrated movies and TVshows from your fellow Longhorns to alleviate that fatigue and introduce you to some new favorites.

Kim’s Convenience

In need of a heartwarming show that will make you laugh until your sides hurt? This show portrays a Korean-Canadian family’s struggle to assimilate with the world around them without compromising their culture. The show captures a wide range of emotions from estrangement, generational guilt, and toxic masculinity while conveying peak comedy.

Courtesy of Polina Kovaleva 

A Simple Favor

Five words: Anna Kendrick and Blake Lively. A Simple Favor is a psychological thriller that will keep you on your toes and have you hooked with its sarcastic humor and effortless storytelling. Lively and Kendrick perfectly fit the roles of Emily and Stephanie. While Henry Golding’s Sean Townsend somehow seems like the manipulator and the victim simultaneously. This movie will have you question every single detail about the case and all I can say is Gone Girl, who?

Young Royals

Looking for a more dramatic teen show? Young Royals may be the show for you. The show portrays the complexities of a young LGBTQIA person’s life with picturesque scenes and dark undertones. Through all the royal scandal, the show makes an important point about the last vestiges of royalty desperately clinging onto heterosexual views rather than the reality of the society they rule over.

Courtesy of Steve Johnson 

Sex Education

Moordale Secondary School seems like a fever dream with its rambunctious students, questionable teachers, and on-campus sex therapist. But Sex Education is truly one of the best Netflix original shows you will come across. Characters like Otis and Maeve are flawed yet fully fleshed out and seem real. Eric’s coming-out story is genuine and not forced or cheesy. Mr. Groff finding happiness after a lifetime of upholding societal expectations is truly inspiring. Most importantly the show de-stigmatizes sex and its activities without hyper-sexualizing its characters.

Fractured

Our worst nightmares are the product of our own imagination. This psychological thriller makes you question who is telling the truth, and you find yourself sympathizing with the protagonist, Ray, or is he the villain? The movie makes you go back and forth between the two versions of reality until the horrifying truth is made evident. A thriller truly worth watching that will keep you at the edge of your seat the whole time.

Courtesy of Michael Burrows 

Atelier

Get ready to step into the world of fashion with this beautiful and Get ready to step into the world of fashion with this beautiful and entertaining show. Atelier is the story of Mayuko Tokita finding her way into the fashion scene of Tokyo’s infamous Ginza district. If you loved The Devil Wears Prada and enjoyed watching glamour and style, this is the show for you.

Derry Girls

The Northern Ireland conflict of the 1990s is the last place you think of when looking for the setting of a feel-good coming of age story. Derry Girls captures the trials and tribulations of school dances, no-good tattletales, and boy troubles. The show is able to avoid cliches and captures its audience’s heart with its authenticity and humor.

She’s Gotta Have It 

This comedy is a fresh take on the struggling artist by replacing the whining pseudo-intellect with a young woman full of life. Furthermore, the show depicts sexuality without bias and portrays a pansexual without judgment or value-calls.

Courtesy of Tamanna Rumee 

AlRawabi School for Girls

Standing up to your high-school bully can be a pinnacle moment and the shifting point in your journey to find your confidence, but what happens when it goes wrong? This show examines the fine line between a victim and a bully. In the words of the director Tima Shomali, the female-led cast gives a “female perception on their issues.” The show carefully avoids the usual tropes of mean high school girls but rather goes deeper and questions the motivations behind being a bully and how your circumstances can turn you into a monster without realizing it.

To the Bone

Eating disorders are often mocked and used for cheap laughs in entertainment. To the Bone is raw in its depiction of how pervasive an eating disorder can be and how the disorder is not superficial or for attention. While To the Bone is not perfect in its depiction of mental illness it is a step in the right direction.

Featured Image Courtesy of cottonbro

Always Be My Maybe Movie Review

After a long day, the lyrics from Harry Styles’ song Woman, “Should we just search romantic comedies on Netflix and then see what we find?” often come to mind. It’s a thought many of us have on nights when we feel like watching a comforting movie. 

The rom-com combines the best parts of a love story and all the laughs of a comedy, which makes for the perfect thing to watch to put you in a good mood. Rom-coms have captured our hearts for decades, but the shift in media content in the digital streaming era can make us wonder what can we expect from rom-coms in the coming years? 

Rom-coms in the 2020’s should take notes from the 2019 Netflix original film Always be my Maybe. The film wouldn’t have been possible without a few notable alumni from the hit ABC sit-com Fresh Off The Boat.  The creator of the show, Nanatchka Khan, directed the 2019 film. The film was also written by and starred Ali Wong, a writer for Fresh Off the Boat and Randall Park, a star on Fresh Off The Boat. Wong andPark have been close friends since their days at UCLA and the magic behind their duo is what made the movie such a special treat to watch— complete with a great story, well-executed comedy and a film with positive representation.

The story of Always Be My Maybe follows Sasha Tran and Marcus Kim, and their classic tale of childhood best friends who fell in love. The two grew up together in the Bay area in the 90s and Sasha grew close to Marcus’s mom since her parents worked a lot and his mom taught Sasha how to cook. The summer after they graduate high school, Marcus’s mom dies and it takes a toll on Marcus and the relationship he has with Sasha. The two reach a breaking point and don’t talk to each other for years. Fast forward to 2019 and the two reunite when Sasha, now a celebrity chef, spends time in San Francisco opening a new restaurant. Marcus and Sasha reunite after all those years and after some initial awkwardness ease into their friendship again. While the two are dating other people, have different career goals and live vastly different lifestyles, they realize that they want to be with each other no matter what it takes. By the end of the movie, they commit to one another and build a life together. 

The movie has excellent world building especially given its setting in San Francisco. The location is influential on the characters and situations in the movie and builds a world that depicts life and Asian-American culture in the context of the Bay Area. Both characters are from there so they are attached to the location,family and overall community it represents. 

The movie also has really good character building in that throughout the entire movie you get a sense of the characteristics of both love interests and how that dynamic changes over time. The movie also acknowledges the trauma each love interest has and how it’s affected their worldview, relationships, sense of family and lifestyle. But by acknowledging these flaws, they show the conflict the characters have and how the conflict gets resolved when the characters learn to overcome their flaws and heal from their traumas.  

Something about the storytelling in this film is so natural. The progression of events seems so smooth and effortless that you never have to question why something happens because each scene informs the next and builds off the one before. The plot of this film also seems natural in a way that accurately depicts real life situations and conflicts. Even though the story follows Sasha and Marcus, this could have been the love story of anyone. 

An aspect of the film that highlights its appeal is it’s comedy. For a rom-com this movie is equal parts romantic and comedic which is a ratio that’s often hard to come by. You have the comedic stylings of Wong and Park who also have amazing onscreen comedic chemistry. The movie has situational humor, jokes about the embarrassment of adolescence and humorous commentary on the current state of California and Asian-American cultures. 

Beyond a well-crafted film, the movie serves as a positive depiction of Asian-Americans and women. As a story written by Asian-Americans, the film has a natural perspective on what life is like for Asian-Americans. The movie depicts the identity struggles that can exist among Asian-Americans in addition to the ways in which they celebrate their culture and community. The movie also depicts women in a positive way by having the lead female love interest be a woman who is successful in her career and consciously does not shrink herself or her ambitions for love. 

Always Be My Maybe could easily be the blueprint for rom-coms in the streaming era because it has everything you could want in a rom-com and more. The film combines the elements of great storytelling and casting, humorous writing, cultural commentary and representation that make for an impactful movie that stays with you long after the movie’s over. 

Movies We’re Anticipating This Fall

For the past year and a half, I’ve eagerly anticipated going back to the theaters. Quarantine made me miss the overpriced popcorn and freezing temperatures that movie theaters had to offer. Although several theaters opened their doors again this past summer, I wanted to save my first experience back in the theater for a good movie. I mean, the last movie I watched in theaters was Little Women — what could top that? As more movies are being released in the upcoming months, here are some of my top picks for movies I can’t wait to see!  

Dune (in theaters)

Adapted from the 1965 sci-fi novel, Dune follows Paul Atreides, the son of a noble family, and his journey to protect the valuable planet Arrakis. Starring Timothée Chalamet, Zendaya and Oscar Isaac, Dune is full of your favorite Hollywood actors. Dune is currently out in theaters and available to watch on HBO Max. 

The French Dispatch (in theaters)

Set in a fictional French city, The French Dispatch follows an outpost of American journalists and the stories they publish in their newspaper. Like all other Wes Anderson movies, you can expect an interesting cast, offbeat characters and colorful sets — what’s not to love?

Last Night in Soho (in theaters)

After being transported into the body of a 1960s nightclub singer, Ellie realizes that her life isn’t all that it appears to be. Starring the beloved Anya Taylor-Joy, Last Night in Soho is the perfect psychological thriller for fall!

Eternals (in theaters)

As the newest Marvel movie, Eternals tells the story of immortal beings who have lived on Earth for thousands of years that reunite to fight the evil Deviants. Directed by Chloé Zhao, Eternals is expected to be an unconventional Marvel movie. Did I also mention it stars Angelina Jolie, Salma Hayek and Gemma Chan? 

Passing (November 10) 

Based on the 1929 novel, Passing follows the lives of two mixed-race childhood friends as they struggle with race and identity in 1920s New York City. Although black-and-white movies have a reputation for being boring, I expect Tessa Thompson and Ruth Negga to give an incredible performance! 

King Richard (November 19)

Based on the true story of Serena and Venus Williams’ upbringing, King Richard follows Richard Williams and his unconventional methods for raising two star athletes. As a fan of the Williams sisters, I’m excited to see how the movie portrays their childhood.

House of Gucci (November 24)

House of Gucci tells the true story of Maurizio Gucci, head of the Gucci fashion house, and his murder. Starring Lady Gaga, Adam Driver and Al Pacino, I can’t wait to see the dazzling outfits and dramatic portrayal of the Gucci family. 

Licorice Pizza (November 26)

Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson, Licorice Pizza follows a boy and girl as they fall in love in 1970s California. This coming-of-age comedy will be the actorial debut for Alana Haim, from the band HAIM! The movie will have a limited release on Nov. 26 before being distributed worldwide. 

With all of these movies coming out over the next month, I can’t decide which I want to watch first — Dune or The French Dispatch. Regardless of what I choose, all of these movies are guaranteed to be worth your while!

Featured image by Valerie Aldana

Why Marvel Fans Are Raging About “What If…?”

“I observe all that transpires here, but I do not, cannot, will not interfere,” is the iconic introduction of The Watcher who instills Marvel fans with excitement in each episode. What If..? is the new anthology series based on Marvel Comics and is the fourth television show in the Marvel Cinematic Universe produced by Marvel Studios. 

Marvel fans are raging over What If…? because it touches on monumental events in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, warping them into different outcomes in alternate timelines of the multiverse. What’s groundbreaking about this series is that a different event is explored each episode leaving the audience eager to know what situation will be tackled next. Everyone has that thought in the back of their minds when watching a film or TV show that goes, “I wonder what would’ve happened if this character made a different choice?” 

Originally, the What If…? comics made their debut in 1977. In April of 2019, Disney and Marvel officially announced it would be a series. In the past, Marvel Studios discussed potentially producing something involving the What If…? comics, but decided not to do so until after the Infinity Saga wrapped up so they would have enough storylines to create alternate outcomes for. 

Photo courtesy of “What If…?” S1 E1

The writers behind the masterpiece examined each and every one of the MCU heroes to determine “what makes them tick.” The writers wanted to make sure a build up of story potential was behind each episode and storyline to truly unravel who is the hero behind each “shield.” 

A.C Bradley said, “The first question was never ‘what if’— the first question was, ‘where is the heart in the hero?’ Where’s the humanity in these iconic characters that we’ve all spent so many years watching on screen and growing up reading comic books about? How do we get beyond the shield? So, with Peggy Carter it was as simple as, “she was a woman in the 1940s who said I’m staying in the room,how is that going to change the world?” 

I interviewed Hermino Mendez, a Radio Television and Film major at UT to get the inside scoop on what UT students think of the series.. 

“I love when Marvel changes up the game,”Mendez said. “Morally grey characters are intriguing to me. What I really love about What If…? is that it strays away from the ‘expected’ Marvel formula that a lot of viewers are used to.” 

Mendez’s answer makes it clear that Marvel fans were yearning for this all along. 

“What I find really cool is that there is an existing curated universe that the directors and writers of the episodes can do an alternate take on. I found myself pondering different scenarios in shows.  I feel like all fans make up these concepts inside their head. It almost feels like an alternate take on history itself since there is so much rich lore and history existing in the MCU.” 

What If…? is a series everyone should take the time to watch or even just know about! It’s a revolutionary take on the Marvel Cinematic Universe and a great way to get people invested in what has been 10 years of movies and decades of comics. As Mendez said, “but what if a character did this instead of that is something that’s never been done before.”