When writers of movies and TV shows want to reach for an easy plot line, they all come up with the same sort of answer – a marriage proposal, a wedding, or some other tired old form of matrimania. It doesn’t matter what the genre is – comedies, dramas, crime procedurals, even sporting events and newscasts, not to even mention the reality shows that at least have the decency to announce that they are about marriage proposals; somehow matrimania will rear its boring, predictable head.
Now something else is happening.
An example is the season finale of Chicago Fire. I generally like the show. It includes strong characters who develop over time. It mostly avoids stereotypes and caricatures. But in the last episode, there was not just one matrimanical theme but two. First, there was a wedding, then there was a marriage proposal.
I’ve noticed this upping-the-ante in other shows, too, in which just one wedding or proposal per episode is no longer enough. What’s going on?
Is it because viewers are twice as excited as they have ever been before about wedding themes in their shows about firehouses and everything else?
I kind of doubt it. I’ve long believed that all of the over-the-top hyping of marriage, coupling, and weddings (that’s what I call matrimania) is not a sign of how secure we are about the place of marriage in our lives but how insecure we are. It is like protesting too much.
Maybe another analogy is also appropriate. There are some experiences that, after being repeated, are just not as powerful as they were at first. To get the same effect, you need to increase the dose. Perhaps that’s what’s happening with all the wedding and marriage themes. We’ve seen so many of them, in so many different movies and shows, that one storyline per episode is no longer enough. We need another and then another and then maybe one more. Will that then be enough?
I wonder when the creative community will muster the imagination and the effort to come up with something else.
Fire truck image available from Shutterstock.