Why are May/December romances stigmatized, even in Hollywood? Despite steps forward in the movie industry, one romance remains taboo. It’s a travesty and I want to examine why that’s the case using Morning Glory one of my most favorite Harrison Ford films.
There have been a few movies where the May/December romances were central to the plots. The couples in these films do get together. Yet, there are some obvious differences between these films and Morning Glory. While Ford played the older man in Age of Adaline, his character in Adaline is married. So, his getting the girl is unlikely but there is no excuse for Morning Glory.
Pretty Woman is a movie that highlights the May/December romance in a somewhat negative way. Julia Roberts and Richard Gere’s characters fall in love because of his monetary superiority over her. She’s a hooker wanting to go places but is low on funds. He’s a rich businessman who is tired of superficiality. Yes, I’m considering that a negative reason for them to fall in love.
Many people who look at May/December romances often notice this trend. Especially if the woman is the “May” of the relationship and the man is the “December.” It makes the imbalance of power one that people see and think, “she’s only in it for the money.” In Pretty Woman’s case, that’s how it starts. When the man is the “May” in the relationship, the women “Decembers” are deemed as cradle robbers or other negative stereotypes. Either way, women are stigmatized in this relationship possibility. It’s time to change that stigma.
Morning Glory is an overlooked romantic comedy gem. After Becky (Rachel McAdams) is fired from Good Morning New Jersey, Becky accepts a job at IBS and their morning show, Daybreak. After she fires one of her morning anchors, she pursues veteran journalist Mike Pomeroy to co-host. Mike and Becky often argue because Mike doesn’t see morning shows as being hard-hitting journalistic endeavors. Yet the two of them mend bridges and he cooks—cooks!!—for her to win her back after she almost jumps networks.
McAdams and Ford don’t play these characters as a surrogate father/daughter relationship. The script doesn’t allow them to either. There is a reference to them having sex together and a reference to Mike enjoying younger women. There could be an argument that Becky uses Mike to secure her status at IBS. But that would be a disservice to Becky’s character who is a go-getter in her own right.
Of course, Morning Glory doesn’t allow Mike and Becky to get together romantically. Becky has a relationship with Adam Bennett (Patrick Wilson). The “traditional couple” of Diane Keaton’s Colleen Peck and Mike is realized by the end of the film. But the final scene, the final image of the film isn’t the solidification of Adam and Becky’s relationship. The final scene isn’t even of Colleen and Mike, it’s of Becky and Mike walking the streets of New York during a sunset.
If Morning Glory was a musical, that last image would be confirmation that Becky and Mike were the true romantic couple of the film. It was not any of the other couplings presented in the film.
What is the point of all this? The first point is, Mike and Becky are better relationship material than Adam and Becky. Not only that, their relationship is the core of the film and is far more developed than Adam and Becky’s relationship. The second point is, writer Aline Brosh McKenna had all of this potential for a May/December romance and obviously decided not to take it. Why? Because May/December romances seem to be taboo in Hollywood. To put it frankly, it isn’t fair. Why shouldn’t a younger woman be seen with an older man? Why is it so against the rules? What will it take to see this relationship type properly portrayed?
While Morning Glory missed the boat on portraying a relationship with an age gap, there is still hope for the future. Maybe eventually there will be a May/December romance portrayed on film properly, not all of this sexual tension followed by a letdown. People in May/December romances, be it multi-racial, homo-racial, homosexual, or heterosexual romances, deserve to be portrayed on film. Morning Glory was almost there, but alas.
Shelby started writing at the age of 13 and has been hooked ever since. She's currently going to school at ATU for Creative Writing and English with a minor in Film Studies. She hopes to one day be a professor of film, a film critic, and a screenwriter. (Can you tell she likes the movies?)
She hopes to walk the red carpet one day. She contributes a long list of friends, co-workers, professors, and writers as the inspiration for her dreams and goals.
You can find Shelby on Twitter, Tumblr, and Facebook.
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