The Hot Doctor subgenre of movie love triangles
(Spoilers for Bridget Jones’s Baby below.)
I wrote about the Hot Doctor a few years ago before my blog shat itself and died, so I’m going to update this theory.
Take a single woman. Usually over 35, mature, having made some mistakes, but now she’s independent. A career woman. Then she encounters two men. One man is any combination of this list: older, unpleasant, ugly, bad with money, downright verbally abusive, withdrawn, unemployed, no sense of humor, initially uninterested in her. The other man (the Hot Doctor) is any combination of this list: gorgeous, younger, wealthy, funny, devoted, with an amazing job, friendly, charming.
Now before someone gets mad at me, I don’t judge someone based on looks or wealth status, I’m just saying that when writers build these guys, they sometimes slap an unattractive face or low economic status on a very unpleasant person. And I’m not talking about the awesome plain looking guy that women ignore until they see “what was in right front of me the whole time.”
The Hot Doctor shows himself to be utterly wonderful and dotes entirely on the heroine. And she ALWAYS chooses the first guy at the end.
Something’s Gotta Give: Diane Keaton falls for Jack Nicholson for reasons I wasn’t really clear on. She chose him over Keanu Reeves. KEANU.
In Sex and the City, Miranda dates cute bartender Steve on and off but he can’t handle her economic status being so different from (read: higher) his. So she finds a Hot Doctor. Enough like her that neither are intimidated, but different enough to make their relationship interesting.
Aside #1- in looking for images for this post, I ran across an article on Cosmo that agreed wholeheartedly with me regarding the Hot Doctor and Miranda. VALIDATION.
Aside #2- Jack Nicholson comes back again in As Good As It Gets which doesn’t have a hot doctor, but does have a woman falling for unpleasant, misogynistic Jack for no fucking apparent reason. If it had a Hot Doctor, he would have been dumped.
Recently I saw Bridget Jones’s Baby, which was a solid, fine romcom. I enjoyed it. But it pulled a Hot Doctor: Patrick Dempsey is a wealthy, charismatic American who is a relationship expert and, according to his successful pairing website, a 96% ideal partner for Bridget. (Mr. Darcy is 8% compatible.) Bridget sleeps with them one week apart and becomes pregnant, unable to figure out who the father is. The movie is about her trying to deal with both of them as the pregnancy progresses.
This could have been solved early on with an amniocentesis but she freaks out at the size of the needle and refuses. Now I’ve never had one, and I don’t have a needle phobia, so it’s easy for me to say this, but if there was a social disaster happening with two men waiting to hear about how their impending fatherhood, I’d do the needle thing.
Throughout all this Darcy is uncomfortable and standoffish, and Bridget does list all the things that had been wrong in their relationship when they tried to be together. Patrick Dempsey is funny, charming, and supportive, and hot as hell.* But at the end, she chooses Darcy, and they marry. (He also ends up being the father to the kid, but Bridget does choose him before they know for sure.)
The movie tries to make Dempsey unfitting for her only twice: he lies to Darcy that he has a better chance of being the father (he says they didn’t use a condom, while Bridget’s super-old vegan condom broke with Darcy), and then he gets all American New Agey when she’s in labor, telling her to “breathe through the pain.” She punches him in the nose, and Darcy dryly tells him to breathe through the pain. (Admittedly, that was an awesome line.)
This kind of storytelling is common as hell, and I wonder if it’s Hollywood sending women frequent messages that we should settle. These stories don’t do enough to make the hot doctor-types look bad, and they don’t do enough to make the Other Guy look good (Steve in Sex and the City is the possible exception to this but the Hot Doctor was still better suited to be with Miranda.) I just get confused because these kinds of stories are supposed to be our wish fulfillments, but they dangle the Hot Doctor in front of us and then whip him away and replace him with Jack Nicholson because of Movie Reasons. It’s ridiculous.