I’m a big fan of romantic comedies, but it’s difficult to find ones that aren’t horrible. When Harry Met Sallycomes as close to perfection as this genre will ever come. The concept doesn’t sound great: Billy Crystal (Harry) stars in a romantic comedy in which he isn’t in love with Meg Ryan (Sally), and then he is. There’s no Nicholas Sparks-style melodrama and no Katherine Heigl-esque faux clumsiness.
Crystal and Ryan shine on screen, bringing both the humor and romance that every romcom ought to have. I never thought Billy Crystal could make me swoon, but at the end of the movie, when he declares his love, saying, “I came here tonight because when you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible,” I can’t help it. Yet, that’s not the most memorable line in the movie, not even close.
Much more memorable is Harry’s insight that “men and women can’t be friends because the sex part always gets in the way.” Sally freaks out, but the movie only confirms it — Harry and Sally can’t be friends, so they fall in love.
At first, Harry’s claim seems very dated. I, like Sally, immediately want to say that men and women can be friends, but Harry’s whole point is that we don’t realize our male friends’ desires. I can never know the truth of this statement. I can never ask my friends about it and expect an honest answer. So I’ll look to the next best place: television.
Television completely believes Harry’s theorem. On “Friends,” Ross, Rachel, Monica and Chandler all fall in love. On “How I Met Your Mother,” Robin, Ted and Barney form an awkward love triangle, as do Britta, Annie and Jeff on “Community.” The cast of “Glee” shuffles partners, and Pam thought Jim was just her friend on “The Office.” Gordo and Lizzie were obviously going to end up together on “Lizzie McGuire,” just like Ron and Kim on “Kim Possible” and Freddie and Sam on “iCarly” (did I just lose my limited street cred by listing Disney and Nickelodeon shows?). And of course, there’s Corey and Topanga from “Boy Meets World.”
Movies are the same. In Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Holly thinks she and Paul are just friends. Luke and Leia have awkward sexual tension until they realize they’re related, Pepper Potts is more than Tony Stark’s assistant inIron Man and Ashton Kutcher and Jennifer Garner are best friends who fall in love in the horrible Valentine’s Day. It’s the oldest, most tired cliche, and yet it comes up over and over again. Doesn’t that lend it some truth?
It’s something my mom likes to tell me when I complain about boys: “Your father and I were friends before wedated.” OK, but does that mean I can’t have any platonic relationships with straight men without having it turn into “The One Where Victoria’s Friend is Awkwardly in Love with Her”?
Then, of course, there’s the flipside to this declaration: I could fear that my male friends want to get with me (and, to be honest, I’m about 99 percent sure this isn’t true), but I could think that this is awesome, that it is inevitable that my friendships will bloom into more. I could spend all my time pining after boys who don’t love me now, assured by Billy Crystal that they soon will.
This is obviously a very stupid approach, but one that I have embarrassingly fallen into myself more times than I’m proud of. I recommend not interpreting When Harry Met Sally this way. If you do, expect to misinterpret platonic texts, the reasons why your crush agreed to get dinner with you and everything he’s ever said while watching a basketball game.
So, this Valentine’s Day, watch When Harry Met Sally, but not with your friends of the opposite sex, because it will be awkward, and unrequited love sucks for everyone.
Victoria Edel is a sophomore in the College. She can be reached at [email protected] GIRL MEETS WORLD appears every other Friday in the guide.