FP Pop Culture Picks: Bad Romance
Ivelisse Rodriguez's debut short story collection LOVE WAR STORIES asks the question—what does it mean to be a person in love? In the collection, Rodriguez explores the stories of Puerto Rican girls who are raised to want one thing: true love. Yet they are brought up by women whose lives are marked by broken promises, grief, and betrayal. While some believe that they’ll be the ones to finally make it work, others swear not to repeat cycles of violence. Rodriguez documents how these “love wars” break out across generations as individuals find themselves caught in the crosshairs of romance, expectations, and community.
In preparation for the collection's #BookBirthday on July 10, we've gathered the absolute best in "bad romance," from Jane the Virgin to Wuthering Heights. Here are team FP's favorite books, movies, TV shows, and music that feature relationship drama, breakup stories, flash in the pan romances, melodrama, and so much more.
Ruthie: Jane The Virgin
About: Jane the Virgin is an American telenovela about Jane, a young woman, aspiring writer, part-time teacher and—as the show's title might have implied—virgin, engaged to be married and set in her ways when her life is turned upside down by an accidental artificial insemination. Impregnated during a routine check-up, Jane decides to carry and raise the baby and must face the harsh realities of motherhood while facing lingering feelings for the child's father (her ex-flame and current boss) as she's drawn further away from her fiancé and from the life she was once determined to lead.
Binge Jane now: This show is absurd and funny—the bad romance factor is unparalleled. It's a light watch that doesn't hold back on the outlandish romantic drama that I live for!
Zixu: Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë
About: Catherine left Heathcliff right after she gave birth to her daughter, but she haunted him the rest of his life. They didn't end up together, but their souls were always tightly bound, whenever they were alive or dead.
Why you should read the book and not just listen to the Kate Bush song: I enjoy this novel very much as it is extraordinary and haunting. The romance is frightening, but unforgettable.
Luriel: Lemonade by Beyoncé
About: Beyonce dropped this shocking + fire album in the spring of 2016 after three years of silence since her self-titled album, BEYONCÉ (2013) (which was also fire, btdubs). Lemonade is a scathing expose of Jay-Z, her husband and rapper + businessman extraordinaire, in which she reveals that he had cheated on her, how their relationship has since suffered for it, and how she has moved on to empower herself as a black woman and an artist.
Why Lemonade: Despite Beyoncé's recent joint album with Jay-Z (Everything is Love), I still think Lemonade speaks volumes for people who have experienced either bad relationships or bad moments in good relationships. Give it a listen if you are in need of some serious cathartic jams!!
Drew: High Fidelity
Both the book by Nick Hornby and the movie by Stephen Frears
About: A hapless record shop owner faces an existential crisis after being dumped by his girlfriend. In an attempt to understand why this happened, he meets with all of his ex-girlfriends to rehash how he bungled all of those relationships.
Why Rob Gordon: Art imitates life: I recognize myself in so many of the ridiculous situations that unfurl as the story makes its way to a happy ending.
Jisu: Broken Sword (Tony Leung) and Flying Snow (Maggie Cheung) in Zhang Yimou's Hero (2002)
About: Hero is perhaps my favorite movie of all time, and whatever you think about Zhang Yimou—his work can strike an uneasy political chord—it's undeniably beautiful. This visually extravagant martial arts film mythologizes the birth of the Chinese empire, and investigates the circular nature of truth and storytelling.
Why you should watch: First love! Swords! Betrayal! Stubborn pride! What's not to love?
Jamia: Summertime (La Belle Saison), dir. Catherine Corsini
About: Delphine, the only daughter of a conservative French farm family, meets her match in Carole, a Spanish teacher, when she spots a boisterous group of women proclaiming their dedication to women's liberation ("droits des femmes") on the streets of Paris in 1971.
Stream this: La Belle Saison bravely takes on the contradictions we navigate in our lives, loves, families, friendships, and activism. It's a beautiful coming-of-age story rooted in a narrative about the second wave feminist movement in Paris.
Sophia O: Destiny's Child (highly underrated final album) Destiny Fulfilled
About: It's a stirring R&B odyssey through falling in love, experiencing betrayal, and healing from a toxic relationship.
Download these bops: You can't skip through this album because a) each song is incredible and b) the sequence of songs plays out the relationship arc in chronological order. Gems include the dance classic "Lose My Breath," the friendship anthem "Girl," and the cathartic "Free." Check out this live performance of two of the album's standout tracks, but prepare to get goosebumps!
Suki: The Parent Trap (1961)
About: Twin sisters who were separated from each other when their parents divorced reconnect at summer camp years later. After they get over the initial shock, they swap places to meet the parent they never grew up with and plot to reunite them.
Lindsay Lohan who?: Though the movie screams "Disney happy ending," the hilarious plot twists and turns add to this movie's overall warmth and charm. It makes the viewer realize that there's nothing better than the bonds of sisterhood and that if a relationship is meant to be, it will be.
Sophia M: Valencia by Michelle Tea
About: Michelle Tea's second novel, Valencia follows narrator Michelle through the highs and lows of the vibrant queer subculture of San Francisco's Mission District in the 1990s.
Spill the Tea: This queer feminist punk masterpiece was everything to me in my teenage years: a thrilling glimpse at a West Coast world of radical community, poetic rebellion, and sexual freedom that felt so far removed from my quiet book-nerd existence. Now, as an older reader and devoted fan of Michelle's later writing, I recognize the dark sides of this narrative (like poverty, addiction, and plenty of devastating romantic drama), but when Valencia first came into my life, it was an vision of pure liberation.
Both the books by Stephanie Meyer and the film franchise!
About: High-school student Bella Swan moves from her mom's house in sunny Arizona to live with her dad in rainy Washington state. She meets Edward Cullen (vampire!!) and Jacob Black (werewolf!!) and drama ensues!
#TeamEdward: A juicy supernatural love triangle where one of your love interests ends up with your child? I'm all about the problematic fave.
About: Strangers is a dramatic comedy miniseries about Isobel Song, a young woman renting out her newly-spare bedroom in LA and trying to make sense of her life—her sexuality, her friendships, how to pay her rent—after sleeping with a woman and breaking up with her long-term boyfriend.
Why you should get to know these Strangers: This is the sappiest show I'll publicly admit to watching, but it wins on a lot of levels for me, depicting refreshing and complex representations of bisexuality, romantic friendships, and chosen families (and families that just fall into your lap) with a great sense of humor and an uncomfortably accurate portrayal of what it feels like to be lost in your late twenties.