Sunday, 6 January 2013

First kisses - where's the romance?

With all the focus on the young adult / new adult categories and the inclusion of more sexually explicit content I feel we're losing something that is important.  The first kiss.  The anticipation.  And gosh darnit, the romance.  Yes, sex does become part of this but it's not often romantic or hot.  It's plain awkward or weird.

Melina Marchetta's On the Jellicoe Road has one of the best first my humble opinion:
"When I turn around, he cups my face in his hands and he kisses me so deeply that I don't know who is breathing for who, but his mouth and tongue taste like warm honey. I don't know how long it lasts, but when I let go of him, I miss it already."
This works because the rest of their relationship is push and pull, hard layers and sharp corners.

I do love Marchetta's depiction of Will and Frankie's first kiss in Saving Francesca too - not often is their romance and there aren't many situations less romantic than a teen party.
"And he's coming closer and closer and the way he's looking at me makes me think that I'm going to have the most romantic night in the history of my life.  I open my mouth to say something and he sticks his tongue down my throat. 
We're in a corner, pashing, and I don't know what's got me to this point.  A look in the corridor?  A flirt outside my nonna's house?  All I know is that no one exists around us.  I don't know whether we're kissing for five minutes or five hours and my mouth feels bruised, but I can't let go."

See?  She's darned good.  But it works because of everything else that is built around it.  A kissing scene or sex scene is just something hollow without significant character work.  Frankie's closing line?  "Do that sober and I'll be impressed."  I adore the chutzpah.

I wrote about a few other favourites from YA back in 2010.

After a brief mention of Everwood via a Parks and Recreation mention on twitter I found myself plummeting down the youtube spiral that is Bright and Hannah.  One of the best first kisses and representations of the opposites attract trope.  Don't believe P&R's Chris Pratt and Grey's Anatomy's Sarah
"I'm sweaty."

For some reason or another I watched all nine seasons of One Tree Hill.  I won't pretend it was good by any stretch of the imagination but I just loved Bethany Joy Lenz who played Haley and thus her relationship with Nathan.  Another example of the nerdy girl and jock type...seeing a pattern?  The first season did a somewhat good job of establishing this relationship and then ended with them getting married at 16....which led to a baby AT graduation.  I wish I were kidding.

You can't look at teen television and not reference this awesome kiss.  Logan and Veronica...oh which the Duncan history could not eclipse.

I am a huge fan of Teen Wolf because I want to see a 'ship occur that the producer's constantly tease...that of Derek and Stiles.  Regardless of whether this happens or not, it's a lot of fun for the cast and the audience.

A huge amount of the previous two 'ships is the anticipation.  Not the act itself.  Whether it be Logan's epic love story speech in season 2, or Stiles using Derek's hotness to nab a's tremendously entertaining while also tugging on the heartstrings, or funny bone.

A personal favourite from my personal teen years is the Dawson's Creek Joey/Pacey kiss from season 3 where everyone could say FINALLY!  It worked because the writers committed to a whole season worth of friendship lead up that paved the way for the relationship.  It wasn't purely based on attraction or chemistry (which there was plenty) but also friendship.

I have never been a huge fan of the love at first sight plot device (in fact I wrote a whole discussion on it) as it's usually lazy, uninspired and mining well established tropes into dust.  Like I state in my linked post, it's never about a personal connection that is conveyed, it's always one that is stated over and over again until the audience is swayed (or not) into thinking it's true.

The humour, the earnestness and the scoring (oh my brilliant) of this Felicity and Ben scene is tremendous.  After  season of Felicity stalking Ben and then becoming friends, there's this moment of Ben's charm-pow.

The sound of the chair scraping back and the speed of his movement is unlike anything I've seen before or since.  Adore it...and his lisp.

Who do you think writes great romance (as opposed to lust) in YA or in television featuring young adults?


simmone said...

Adele - look out for Infinite Sky by CJ Flood (UKYA released 2013) - it has a beautiful friendship/romance...

Danielle said...

Ohhhhhh, Bright and Hannah and the ketchup bottles :) I also love their first kiss because Bright addresses the usual 'dorky-girl-turns-hot' trope when he says "and I don't mean 'take your glasses off' kinda hot". So spot-on!

Pacey and Joey were also great - few other first kisses end with the girl pushing the guy multiple times and then being determined to walk home alone. I loved them because their first kiss wasn't perfect, but it was a perfect metaphor for their relationship.

Logan and Veronica had *everything*, the perfect song, a JTT-appearance and a genuine "OMG I DID NOT SEE THAT COMING!" kiss that totally surprised/delighted the audience. I swear, up until that kiss I had never thought of a Logan/Veronica hook-up, but the second they locked lips it was like a puzzle piece falling into place.

Naley. Well. Yeah. They also had a good 'in the rain' reunion kiss. But they're also a good example of how sometimes the lesser characters can steal the first kiss limelight. OTH was meant to be the Peyton/Lucas show, but Nathan and Haley definitely took over as the ship-tour-de-force. I think that was also a little bit true of Luke and Grace in ‘Joan of Arcadia’, this really funny she-hates-him but he-loves-her dynamic that ended up working so well because what started out as a ‘just for laughs’ oddball couple, became quite sincere and sweet.
Fantastic post :)

Belle said...

Great post! Melina Marchetta does do great kisses (like just about everything else she does). I really liked that one from Saving Francesca too, because it was so real.

Anonymous said...

Oh man! I'd forgotten the Pacey/Joey kiss. That one was spectacular!

As far as writing the young romance goes, my favorite both on the page and on screen is Anne with an 'e' and Gilbert Blythe. The books are a bit younger than our current YA, but I will forever be searching for a man who will row his boat up next to me as I hang stupidly from a tree limb that hangs out over the water so that I can be mean to him as he rescues me. :)