Where Are All the Good Stories about Marriage?

And how Christians in the arts can bring them back.
Where Are All the Good Stories about Marriage?
Image: NBC Universal

In her book I Do and I Don’t: A History of Marriage in the Movies, film historian Jeanine Basinger describes a trend that has marked movies for the past 40 years: the lack of interest in married life. Incapable of imagining a dramatically interesting marriage, she explains:

Hollywood kept only the ritual, making movie after movie about weddings. Since no one felt the need for marriage—you could have sex, children, and cohabitation without it—films elevated the event and made it the main point: the Big Wedding in which you could have the decorations, the food, the booze, and the outfits without having to be bored by marriage problems.

According to a former editor of Marvel Comics, one reason why the graphic novel has nearly universally eschewed marriage is that it “kills a good story.” Whatever could be exciting about Clark Kent if he were to remain married to Lois Lane? Not much, apparently, because DC Comics erased the 1996 marriage from history, returning Superman to bachelorhood, the preferred state of our superheroes.

Exceptions exist, of course. Amour, The Incredibles, and In America, along with many Tyler Perry films, focus on and celebrate marriage. Recent movies, such as Drinking Buddies, also trace the relation between friendship and romance, and even between friendship and marriage, explored, for example, throughout the Harry Potter franchise.

One marvelous exception is the critically acclaimed television series Friday Night Lights (FNL), which aired from 2006 to 2011. It tells the story of ordinary people in a small Texas town and their impassioned love of football. But, as Basinger notes, FNL is not so much a show about football as it is “a show about how marriage ...

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