Argumentative Attraction

There are many ways, in a book or film, to play out how two people who like each other find out the other person feels the same way. And how they begin to act on that knowledge or sense.

These story beats come in and out vogue, of course. But the we're-arguing-because-we're-attracted couple? That's a trope that's never out of fashion. And it definitely has had its day in the sun in recent decades. In fact, let's just use the sun for this example.

Him: "That's the sun!" 
Her: "You're wrong! It's the streetlight!" 
Him: "You think you're so great, don't you?" 
Her: "Get out of my life!" 
They storm off, wishing, instead, that they'd kissed.

I am a big fan of this type of romcom road. Some sassy action can up the stakes or create some interesting swirl. But, in the end, I wanted to walk a different path with the potential sweethearts of Wilfair.

Here was my initial thought: What if these potential lovebirds were two pretty easygoing people who weren't always snapping at each other to mask their attraction? What if they sort of downshifted into light and friendly flirtation once they saw that it was okay to do so? What if we just could get to the good stuff faster?

There's my #1 goal with these books: Good stuff faster. 

But, of course, just having two nice people saunter into a romance, easily and quickly, does not a compelling read make.

So, our potential sweethearts have to have their stuff: Meet the Motel Fairwil's swimming pool. Meet Fair Finley, who lives in her head. Meet Gomery Overbove, who sees the various obstacles and doesn't give a gentleman's damn. Meet Monty Overbove, who is going to matchmake even as he stirs up some wind and heat. Meet the weirdnesses popping up around them.

I'm not sure these books are for people who are really into argumentative attraction, though some of you might suggest that I'm already indulging in that elsewhere in the stories. (Let's let that sentence simply hang out there for now, shall we? Wink.)

When I think argumentative attraction I think of the television show "Moonlighting," which remains one of the standard-bearers of the form. And, of course, I think of Shakespeare's "The Taming of the Shrew," too, which came a few hundred years before the invention of television.

What's the ultimate example for you?

And what's your favorite way to see a potential love affair rev up?

photo: net_efekt


Carly said...

I know where else in the stories you're indulging in it!!! *winking madly back*

I enjoy both types of attraction in storytelling. What frustrates me about the argumentative type is that most of the story is spent with the characters at odds, kind of dancing around each other, and you are just waiting for them to get together and when they do...that's the end! We don't get to see what their relationship is like AFTER the arguing. And I always want more of a story I enjoy.

Like, with Pride and Prejudice. I'm a huge fan. And I love the antagonism and the wittiness and the will-they-won't they (although we all know they will). BUT WHAT ABOUT AFTER THEY MOVED TO PEMBERLEY!

So, yeah. There's something so satisfying about Fair and Gomery being into each other and not pretending otherwise. We get to see all of the squidgy moments :)

Erika said...

This post sparked a very long and in depth conversation at dinner tonight. It was awesome so thank you very much!

The first thought that popped into my head was Beatrice and Benedict from 'Much Ado About Nothing' to me they have the Ultimate Argumentative Attraction. Lizzy and Darcy are also top ranking (and shamefully I didn't bring them into the conversation).

Among our contenders were:
Nigel and Mz. Babcock from "the Nanny"

Batman and Catwoman "The Dark Night Rises"

Stephanie Plum and Morelli from Janet Evanovich's books

Kat and Patrick from "10 Things I Hate about you" (which counts as Taming of the Shrew, I think)

and any role Katharine Heigl has ever played

And now that I ahev written my own blog post in response I will leave. :)

Wilfair Book said...

Ladies, I think I have like four more posts to add onto this one. (Don't you tire of me saying "oh, I have another post idea!" in the comments? I kinda do.)

Seriously, though, this topic probably isn't done.

Carly: I hear you. You know, I like it, I do, very much, and when it is done well -- paging Jane Austen -- there's nothing quite as exhilarating.

(I don't know why I just wrote "paging Jane Austen" since paging and loudspeakers were not technologies that existed in Regency England.)

But I guess it is the whole circling thing that can too often play out in a similar fashion. At least for my fussy tastes. One bickery person gets brave enough to finally step forward while the other is looking in a different direction. Then the braver person loses their nerve and steps back, and the circling resumes.

I seriously need to take this to a new post, because my head has many thoughts. But thanks for jump-starting many of them!

Erika: Hooray, conversation starters! And I like your examples. ("The Nanny" -- ha ha!)

Gosh, I LOVE "Much Ado About Nothing." Gahhhhh. So much. We may need to talk fave Bard works soon. (coughTwelfthNightcough)

I may have to draw these comments out for the next post in this series, if that's okay. :)

Caitlin said...

I read the title of this post, and immediately thought of Pride and Prejudice. Then as I was reading, my second thought was Much Ado About Nothing. Then I read the comments! You guys, blog, magical, etc. So I have nothing intelligent to add, because everything I would say has already been said. :)

P.S. Winking right back at you too...

Kelly said...

I will never get tired of the argumentative attraction trope, although I agree that it can be frustrating sometimes that the stories often end right when they realise they like each other, so you only get one big swoony moment before it cuts to credits.

I also resent the implication that sometimes goes along with the trope that once they've realised they like each other the arguing will stop. Great relationships can still be filled with that constant back and forth bickering.

Ultimate example for me is probably Calamity Jane, and I've already mentioned here a couple of times how much I love 10 things I hate about you. Ron and Hermione in Harry Potter get a spot on my list too.

In real life I like a little arguing in my relationships, it's awfully dull to agree about everything all the time. It's a boyfriend deal-breaker for me if the guy isn't willing to engage in an occasional spirited debate over topics both serious and utterly silly.

Amanda W said...

It's interesting those of you who mentioned how the story often stops after the couple realizes they love each other (especially in argumentative attraction), because this week I stumbled across "The Viscount Who Loved Me, Epilogue 2," by Julia Quinn. It was a downloadable audio book, so I didn't realize when I started that it was just an epilogue, but it stood alone pretty well. It was all about an annual croquet match commemorating the match at which the main couple met. This match is 15 years into their marriage, and it is hilarious! They are completely cuthroat and sabatoging each other...a delightful look at a (presumably) argumentative attractive couple well into the "okay, we actually love each other" part of their relationship.

And, because this post just needs to be longer ;), I love the circling-type romance of Gomery and Fair as well. So sweet!

Erika said...

Amanda W., Julia Quinn is one of my favorite authors!

bess said...

For your consideration:

Anne Shirley and Gilbert Blythe

Jo March and Theodore "Laurie" Laurence (maybe not the best example in terms of how things end up)

Every couple in every screwball comedy, ever. ;)

I love Much Ado About Nothing!

Wilfair Book said...


Gilbert Blythe can call me "Carrots" any time. 'Cepting I'm not a redhead.

Amanda W said...

Aak! Anne Shirley and Gilbert Blythe! THAT'S who I was trying to think of. And in that situation, you do get to see a bit more of the post-get together.

Erika, I've never read Julia Quinn before, but after the taste I got, I think I'm going to put her on my to-read list.

bess said...

Coincidentally, I'm wearing a dress with slightly puffed sleeves today which always make me think of Anne.

bess said...

Thought of one more: Princess Leia and Han Solo, bam!

Wilfair Book said...

I still own things with puffed sleeves. And wear them.

My favorite Leia-Han moment:

I'm going to figure out a way we can put photos in the comments. In fact, this blog'll have a few minor tweaks soon, so apologies in advance if things go momentarily kittywampus.

Erika said...

You said kittywampus, and I love that. My Uncle who dwells in Minnesota says kittywampus and "Holy buckets!" Both of which I now use in my daily life. I hearts you very much :)

I was trying to think of more couples and I kept coming up against this wall, where one person was snarky and the other person was just in love. Unrequited, if I may. And eventually the other person clicks on and gets with the program. What would we call that?

Erika said...

Also, Mal and Inara a la Firefly... Yes I'm a Browncoat.

Wilfair Book said...

Ohhh, "Firefly." I did not watch but I move among friends who are major fans, so it is in my ether. Plus, Nathan Fillion. Captain Hammer of Dr. Horrible! Yes.

I like this other trope you've introduced! Let's think on that.

Brain tired and thoughts are definitely kittywampus, so thinking shall resume tomorrow. :)

Wilfair Book said...

And thanks for heartsing me very much, Erika! Backatcha! ♥

do dah said...

this is totally my favorite kind of relationship! is this because (as i am only now discovering) i have spent most of my life reacting strongly to anne shirley? as in, this redhead only recently started wearing pink. of COURSE she's going to want a gilbert of her very own.

darcy and lizzie both grow up under each other's influence, which is why i love them as i do. well, that and pemberley. i spend most of those movies -- every version, believe it or not -- swooning at the building itself, truth be told. (especially because matthew macfadyen, whom i typically absolutely adore because tom from spooks, is my least favorite darcy. the stuttering? what? but oh my god, the floors at pemberley...)

i had a point when i started this... oh! i think the couples continue to argue, because sometimes it's just plain a sport on its own and other times it's more interesting to be around people with their own opinions and the rest of the time they probably just can't help it. i like not knowing what happens after they finally choose each other, because i am terrified of finding out that they become complacent and boring and cease to have interesting conversations (or never really use their beautiful brains any more, ANNE).

also, kelly, you're dead-on.

to comment on a later post (i feel like a time traveller!), i enjoy fair and gomery so much because they aren't trying to mess with each other. it's messy, but they are both sincere. and they manage to just plain enjoy themselves instead of magnifying the potential dramatic misery that other people seem to seek out with crushes. besides, gomery can actually use his words and clearly state what he wants, which is about the most attractive thing ever. caps lock, caps lock, caps lock.

in conclusion: yay! and please tell me i'm not the only one with lucy maude-induced issues.

p.s. have you folks seen the blonde, seductive anne of green gables cover? forever ya called it a harbinger of the apocalypse, and i so totally agree. HE CANNOT CALL HER CARROTS IF SHE IS BLONDE, Y'ALL!

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