The Catch

Does anyone watch this show on ABC?  If not it’s about a con man who cozies up to an investigator so that he can steal one of her firm’s client’s money.  She ends up giving him $1.4 million of her own money for a down payment on a house and he takes off.  She has also been pursuing a mysterious Mr. X who, if I recall correctly, was extorting money from people.  I’m a little hazy on the details because it’s been a while since the premier.  Regardless, she has been chasing this mystery man who is actually her “fiancé” up until she gives him all of her money and then discovers he is not who he says he is.

I’m bringing this up because I’ve been binge watching television to clear out my DVR before I discontinue Dish.  As I continue to watch the story unfold he just can’t get her out of his head.  He steals a priceless painting that she likes and puts it on her bedroom wall.  He risks everything to keep in contact with her.  Eventually he tells her he loves her and everything they had was real.  She began as a mark but he really did fall in love with her; he even reminds her of how he asked her to run off with him (right before he took off).  By the season finale they are making plans to run off together.

What a load of bullshit!  He’s a con man, for crying out loud!  They don’t fall in love with their marks.  They don’t have hearts of gold and they don’t need the love of a good woman to turn them into the wonderful men (or women) they are deep down.  This is the kind of crap we’re fed.  He’s not a bad person.  He just needs the right woman.  By golly, she can turn him around.

I’m surprised even 50% of relationships make it considering all the fantasy we’re led to believe from the very moment we begin watching TV and movies.  Maya Angelou tells us to believe who they are the first time they show you.  Hollywood tells us we can change anyone if we simply love them enough.  How many times has that been played out?  The rakish cad that no one can tame- until our heroine comes along and captures his heart.  The bad guy who kills people without batting an eye but who becomes jelly when he’s around the love of his life. Or you know, the whole affair partners as one another’s one true love.  That’s a little off topic, though.

I haven’t even got to the point in the story where the guy helping this couple is the man Ben originally worked for and who wants him to come back and pull more cons.  Additionally, he shot his lover in cold blood just a few episodes before this and killed several other people as well!  Now they’re portraying them as this happy threesome- the couple destined to be together with Hop Along Cassidy playing sidekick.  He’s a cold-blooded murderer, folks!  Don’t trust him!  Don’t go anywhere with him!

Why do we so desperately want to believe we can change people?  Why is this the love story we want to see?  Wouldn’t it be refreshing to see story where the woman called the man on his shit and decided she wasn’t going to put up with it anymore?  Or where she had a conversation with her best friend, telling her that although she loves him he’s a total asshole and he’ll never change?  I get that Hollywood is selling us a bill of goods, a perfect fantasy, but just once it would be nice if our daughters (and sons, for that matter) weren’t force-fed this bullshit.  Stop trying to convince people that when someone fucks you over they’re really a good person at heart.  Stop trying to convince people that their love can turn someone around. If you love a person you’re not going to con them and take all their money and attempt to screw over their company.  Any person in his or her right mind would RUN from a person like this, not pant all over them in the hopes of rekindling their romance.  Is this what we want to teach our children about love, romance and relationships?

It reminds me a bit of red flags for domestic abuse.  As females we’re generally taught that when a man is jealous that’s a good thing; it’s proof that he cares about you. Yet, a man who exhibits jealousy over other male friends or even male attention is presenting a red flag. Jealousy is not a sign of love and thankfully, it seems that is being taught more and more- to both sexes. Many, many couples brag of spending all their time together and being joined at the hip.  Yet one of the first things an abuser will do is isolate his victim from any support system. So when your friend gets a boyfriend and suddenly never wants to go out anymore is she in an abusive relationship or does she just pour herself into her romantic relationships?  It could go either way.   Another popular theme is the amount of attention and gifts abusers usually heap on their victims.  Again, how many of us like getting gifts?  How many of us like finding a partner who actually wants to be around us?  Obviously, it goes beyond just those few things, and a man who is occasionally jealous or who makes elaborate date plans or loves to lavish his date with gifts isn’t automatically an abuser.  It’s just that those signs can be so ambiguous.

Years ago I was reading a board and one of the women was complaining about her boyfriend.  Seems he would get sullen and withdraw whenever her ex was around.  She had a very amicable relationship with him and thought it was important to remain friendly for the sake of her kids but Boyfriend was quite jealous.  Several people commented before one finally spoke up and said the guy was giving off red flags.  Let me tell you, the flood gates opened!  How dare anyone suggest that this was a red flag?  There was nothing abnormal about being jealous when your partner is friendly with her ex!  We don’t have enough information!  You are overreacting!  I’ll skip ahead and let you know how this eventually ended.  Several months after this conversation the boyfriend trapped her in a bathroom and wouldn’t let her leave during a fight they were having.  Needless to say, they broke up.  But I’m still reminded of how all these people refused to even consider that he was giving off subtle signs that he might be controlling and abusive.

I know that it’s just a TV show. It’s make believe. The irony though is this is where so many people get their ideas about how relationships should work.  They turn to Hollywood for cues on romance and love and defying all the odds. Hollywood tells you that you can change the bad boy, the womanizer, the con man, the criminal.

It’s not a bad show; I was just struck by how this beautiful, intelligent woman falls for this con man even after he’s shown her exactly who he is.  I know The Affair gets a pretty rap from most people going through infidelity but from what I’ve read in the recaps and seen in the few episodes I recorded and watched it doesn’t paint a pretty picture of affairs.  Sure, he’s with Allison now and they’ve married, but it becomes pretty apparent that she’s going to end up ruining him and everything he worked for.  Now that, that can definitely be a reality.  Honestly I think we need a lot more reality and a lot less fantasy.  How does any real relationship measure up?  When do we start teaching people to stand up for themselves and trust their gut?  Why does anyone want to continue to insist that all a broken person needs is the love of a good woman (or man) and then they’ll be magically fixed?  Why do they continue to pander to this idea that love means never having to say you’re sorry and that love is all you need?  They need to stop selling people this utter nonsense and portray a real relationship as sexy and worthwhile.  If that’s too difficult maybe they could just stop trying to convince people to ignore basic common sense.  A con man will never make a good romantic partner.

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