I grew up watching romantic soap operas. In soaps, the two leads face numerous trials and challenges—which range from disapproving parents to random memory loss to grave illnesses—that threaten their relationship, sometimes even their very lives. Despite all these obstacles, however, their love emerges victorious in the end, and they get married and everyone is so happy, and that’s how you know what you’re watching is only fictional. No matter how many false leads are introduced in the drama, the main characters still find their way into each other’s arms, like the world’s cheesiest boomerangs.
Whoever is in charge of production will not stray from this tried and tested formula. As such, some viewers may become bored with this, but not me. I embrace this cliche.
It’s the same thing with novels. I know plot twists and unconventional endings are hot now, but I can’t seem to appreciate them like others do. Don’t get me wrong. I like some plot twists. I mean, I don’t mind finding out that one of the characters is actually an alien who looks eerily similar to Benedict Cumberbatch—
—but you can’t make me fall in love with the two leads for 400 pages only to have them break up in the end. It’s too cruel. I will feel like I have wasted the time and emotions I’ve invested in reading their story, a story that has been doomed from the start. You can’t make me cheer for the hero for 600 pages only to kill them off in the last scene. If I wanted that kind of story, I would just read the news.
I read to escape the harsh realities of life. Real life is too sad and hopeless sometimes, what with all the poverty, deaths, and calamities that we have to face every day. I know I’m definitely in the minority here, but when I crack open a book, I need something to take me away from here and into a world where the bad is always punished and the good always wins. Maybe I’m a hopeless romantic, or maybe I’m just an idiot. Whichever it may be, I need to know that whatever happens, everything will be all right in the end. I need to know that after all the pain and suffering, love and happiness will follow. I need to know that the dog will not die, that the criminal will be apprehended, that those who seek true love will live happily ever after.