I saw Jerry Maguire when I was around 12 years old. As an impressionable middle schooler, hormones ricocheting around my tiny body, I slurped up the on screen romance between Tom Cruise and Renée Zellweger like a Jamba Juice smoothie. While the boys my age were discovering porn, I was furiously masturbating to the idea of finding my one true love.
From Nora Ephron’s devastatingly well-written worlds in films like You’ve Got Mail and When Harry Met Sally to the whimsical, floppy-haired romances in Richard Curtis movies (hello, Notting Hill), I was just a girl, standing in front of a movie theater screen, desperate to find a man that would look at me while I was smiling at something else.
You know the look I mean? It’s a moment that appears in all the best romantic films. It’s always soundtracked by a pitch-perfect romantic song from whatever decade the movie lives in. The protagonists are doing something fun and quirky, like, shopping for fruit. The woman is in her own world, smelling apples or whatever, and he’s looking at her look at the fruit like, Wow, she’s perfect. Then the woman catches him looking at her and says something profound like, “What?” He wants to say that he loves her more than he ever thought he could love anyone—because obviously he’s kind of damaged—but instead says, “Nothing.” But the way he says “nothing” is perfect. It’s the kind of line delivery that makes you realize you should be sitting on a towel.
I wanted that. For a long time. But not anymore.
The idea of romantic love is so intrinsically tied to the way we love ourselves. When we have it, we are on top of the world. When we don’t, we feel small and worthless. We question what it is about ourselves that is unlovable, and we believe that it is our shortcomings that keep us from finding the person who’s going to make us a better, more realized person.
The very thesis of one of Jerry Maguire‘s most famous lines—”You complete me”—is the idea that there’s a void inside of you, and it won’t be filled until you find another person to fill it. With all due respect to director Cameron Crowe, a master of his craft who wrote the line, I call bullshit. I think it’s time we shatter the illusion that anyone can be completed by another person’s love. You can be uplifted, empowered, and comforted by it. But the only person that can complete you is you.
So here I am, 31 and single for the first time in eight years, angry at the genre that lied to me for so long.
But maybe it didn’t fully lie. Maybe the romantic comedy has just been focusing on the wrong romance. When I sat down to write Someone Great I knew two things: 1) There was no world where Jenny (Gina Rodriguez) and Nate (Lakeith Stanfield) could end up together at the end of this movie and 2) That the central love story would not be between Jenny and Nate, but instead between Jenny and her two best friends, Erin (DeWanda Wise) and Blair (Brittany Snow).