[Note from Frolic: We’re so excited to welcome author Sara Desai to the site today. She’s sharing some of her favorite fake dating rom coms with us. Take it away, Sara!]
The fake relationship is one of most beloved romantic comedy tropes. Nothing is as satisfying as watching two seemingly incompatible people pretend to be in a relationship together, only to fall in love.
How do fake relationship rom coms bring our couple together? Sometimes one partner doesn’t know they are in a fake relationship (Peter Gallagher was in a coma in While You Were Sleeping), or their relationship is based on deceit (Freddie Prinze Jr. woos Rachel Leigh Cook to win a bet in She’s All That). Love is for sale in Pretty Woman (don’t we all want the fairy tale?), The Wedding Date in which Debra Messing hires male escort Dermot Mulrony to pose as her boyfriend, and Can’t Buy Me Love—a very young and still McDreamy Patrick Dempsey pays a cheerleader to date him (I would have done it for free!).
Fake relationship rom coms aren’t new. James Stewart and Hedy Lamarr enter into a marriage of convenience in the 1941 movie Come Live with Me; at the height of the late 1990s rom com renaissance, Melissa Joan Hart and Adrian Grenier team up to make their respective love interests jealous in Drive Me Crazy; Amy Adams pretends to be married to surly Irish innkeeper Matthew Goode so they can shelter in Tipperary (2010); and recently Lana Condor avoids an awkward confrontation with her sister’s boyfriend in Netflix’s 2018 To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before by pretending to date Noah Centineo who wants to make his ex-girlfriend jealous. But what makes these movies enduring is that they allow the audience to be in on a secret: we know how every story will end. The fun is in watching how the couple is going to get there and what is going to happen along the way.
For me, the best fake relationship rom coms are the ones where the couple start off hating each other. The journey from enemies to lovers is rom com gold and the more intense the hatred, the greater the passion at the end.
My top four in this category are:
1. 10 Things I Hate About You
Abrasive Julia Stiles is pursued by bad boy Heath Ledger who has been paid to date her to smooth the way for her younger sister’s romance. Didn’t we all fall in love with Heath Ledger when he was dancing and singing in the bleachers? Or was it that kiss?
2. Green Card
Sexy Frenchman Gerard Depardieu and American Andie MacDowell enter into a marriage of convenience so he can obtain a green card and remain in the United States and she can rent the apartment of her dreams. Sparks fly when they are forced to live together and discover they disagree on everything from housekeeping to politics. The honeymoon pictures killed me and can you think of a better cute meet than parcels?
3. The Proposal
Tyrannical bosszilla book editor Sandra Bullock—with the sleekest ponytail ever—orders her assistant, a young and sexy Ryan Reynolds, to marry her so she isn’t deported to Canada. She and Reynolds blackmail each other—he jockeys for a promotion—in their prenuptial negotiations and then head off to Alaska to meet his family where Betty White as Reynolds’ Gammy almost steals the show. This movie has all the tropes, naked slip-and-falls and a lucky dog named Kevin.
4. Bollywood Hollywood
Rahul Khanna needs to find a “nice Indian girl” to marry or his mother will call off his sister’s wedding. He bribes escort Lia Ray, whom he believes to be Hispanic, and not bound by convention to pose as his Indian fiancée. Bollywood drama ensues and they separate but are brought together again by a Shakespeare-quoting grandmother and a couple of ghosts!
An enemies-to-lovers fake relationship is the heart of my upcoming release, The Dating Plan. Software engineer Daisy Patel agrees to enter into a fake engagement with venture capitalist Liam Murphy to get her matchmaking aunties off her back and help him claim his inheritance. Daisy is all about lists and quantifiable results. She makes a dating plan to legitimize their fake relationship that laidback Liam struggles to follow. Over successive dates, they fall in love and find their happily ever after.
And isn’t that what we all want in the end?
About the Author:
Sara Desai has been a lawyer, a radio DJ, a historian, a bouncer, and a librarian. She lives on Vancouver Island with her husband and three children.
The Dating Plan by Sara Desai, out now!
Even with a step-by-step plan, these fake fiancés might accidentally fall for each other in this hilarious, heartfelt romantic comedy from the author of The Marriage Game.
Daisy Patel is a software engineer who understands lists and logic better than bosses and boyfriends. With her life all planned out, and no interest in love, the one thing she can’t give her family is the marriage they expect. Left with few options, she asks her childhood crush to be her decoy fiancé.
Liam Murphy is a venture capitalist with something to prove. When he learns that his inheritance is contingent on being married, he realizes his best friend’s little sister has the perfect solution to his problem. A marriage of convenience will get Daisy’s matchmaking relatives off her back and fulfill the terms of his late grandfather’s will. If only he hadn’t broken her tender teenage heart nine years ago…
Sparks fly when Daisy and Liam go on a series of dates to legitimize their fake relationship. Too late, they realize that very little is convenient about their arrangement. History and chemistry aren’t about to follow the rules of this engagement.