From Princes to Frogs: The Evolution of Relationships in the Media

(Written by Megan McMurtrey)

Breakfast At Tiffany'sRemember the old days in film when every relationship seemed perfect? When all a woman had to do was smile and it was love at first sight and “happily ever after?” Movies like An Affair to Remember and Breakfast at Tiffany’s set a standard for romance that the modern relationship can’t seem to fulfill any longer. And so, with the advent of new technology, the modern romance story was born with a little less “happily ever after” and a little more reality.

As we enter an age of 3D and high definition, it’s not only the quality of the screen that we see more clearly now but the quality of the relationships upon them. The fog has been lifted, and rather than the chivalrous gentleman that used to grace the big screen, we now are left with jerks, losers, and just plain frogs.

Strangely enough, in this new media revolution it seems that there is nothing that this society loves more than watching these types of disastrous relationships unfold—perhaps for entertainment value, or perhaps to remind ourselves that no one really gets the “happily ever after” as easily as old movies would lead us to believe.  So now people have taken to television, film, and the Internet to watch these unstable relationships on a regular basis.  It’s a chance to feel empathy, anger and frustration, without being personally involved.  Oh yes, and in comedies, to get lots of laughs!

Kaylene Peoples, Director and Producer of NEVER KISS A FROG Web Series, Photo by Arun NevaderMarilyn Anderson, Writer and Producer of NEVER KISS A FROG Web Series, Photo by Winston BurrisNEVER KISS A FROG Book CoverOne of the more recent developments in the world of on-camera relationships is the Web Series. Marilyn Anderson, author of the relationship book, Never Kiss a Frog: A Girl’s Guide to Creatures from the Dating Swamp,” has taken advantage of the viral video craze and taken her stories from page to screen through a new web series based on her book. Written by Anderson and directed by Kaylene Peoples, each humorous webisode depicts a different man as one of the “frogs” described in the book.

One of the episodes, “Playing Leapfrog,” shows a disastrous date in which the guy can’t keep his eyes off any other women in the restaurant. Other episodes show similar situations of different “frogs” for women to avoid, like The Really-Nice-Guy-But-Really-Bad-Kisser Frog,” The All-Work-And-No-Play Frog,” and the “The Uncouth Frog.” They’re fun to watch, and many women can relate to the situations without feeling bad about their own dating disasters.  There’s an old saying, “If you slip on a banana peel, it’s tragedy; if someone else slips on a banana peel, it’s comedy!”  There’s no question, it’s much easier—and more fun—to watch someone else’s “froggy” dates than to experience your own.

The Bachelorette TV ShowBut Ms. Anderson’s web series isn’t the only place where frogs are “hopping” up. One of the most popular television shows right now is The Bachelorette, a virtual swamp for guys with unresolved issues. Every contestant on the show is fresh from either a bad break-up, a death in the family, or a tragic accident of some sort, leaving the Bachelorette to pick up the pieces. But week after week, over 8 million viewers tune in to watch the poor girl struggle to fulfill the happily-ever-after fantasy that we all dream of.  But even more than that, viewers tune in for the drama, the tears, and the heartbreak, that all lead up to that final proposal. And even months after the sappy finale where our hearts melt over the romantic ending, those same viewers will go out and buy the magazine with the cover announcing that the Bachelorette and her new beau have broken up.

In life, as well as in the media, it’s not as simple as someone handing you a rose and falling madly in love anymore. As Anderson shows in her episodes, there are a lot of frogs out there and, it seems, more frogs than princes! For every Prince William, there are 50 Arnold Schwarzeneggers or Anthony Weiner—only not as famous.

Sex and the CityHumphrey BogartOne female favorite that perfectly displays this radical ratio is Sex and the City. With style and sass, this series climbed its way from the bookshelves to television, and even hit the big screen twice. And it’s a good thing it lasted that long since it took Carrie Bradshaw nearly 10 years of dating duds to finally find her happy ending.

So is it that relationships in general are changing or just the way we look at them? With advancing technology comes a surge of new information that we never had access to before. Back in the days of black and white film, all people knew was what they saw on the screen, which is why actors like Dean Martin and Humphrey Bogart were idolized for their film roles instead of their drinking and party boy habits. There were fewer paparazzi back then to capture pictures of stars stumbling out of bars or hooking up with hookers, so they were able to maintain their golden boy reputations in Hollywood. Nowadays, with media outlets like reality television, gossip magazines, and web series, we see the frogs for what they really are.

With the combination of better technology, more access to information, and the media’s affinity for constant drama, relationships are appearing more flawed and exposed than ever before. It’s not that relationships are necessarily changing; we are just seeing them in a bigger and brighter light. So it’s good news for all the women out there who need help sorting out the nice guys from the jerks, but bad news to all the frogs out there.  Whether you’re watching The Bachelorette on TV, or Anderson’s Never Kiss a Frog series on the Internet, you’ll see examples of plenty of frogs who are no longer safe hiding in their swamps.

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