May-September Romance Movies
Romance movies that involve romantic relationships between two people of different ages, specifically older man/younger woman, are classified as ‘May-September’ romances. This term has been used since the early 20th century to describe a relationship of this kind, predating its current popularity in popular culture. The term is particularly used in films and literature, and is most commonly used to refer to romantic relationships between middle-aged men and much younger women.
The popularity of May-September romance movies has noticeably increased over the past decade. Statistics have shown that half of the top-grossing romance movies in the U.S between 2010-2019 has had a majority older-woman/younger-man couples. One example of a highly successful May-September romance movie is ‘The 40 Year Old Virgin’ (2005) which grossed over 177 million dollars in its first weekend. This movie has been frequently referenced by analysts and film reviewers as an example of one of the most successful May-September romances.
Psychologists have suggested that May-September romance movies were so successful because audiences found it easier to identify with younger protagonists, who were portrayed as more naive and had more energy. This is linked to the tendency of viewers to relate to fictional characters as if they were real, as proven by various studies. The story lines of these movies also included scenarios that are relatable to the audience, such as overcoming barriers that stand in the way of their romance, or facing judgement from others.
Apart from psychoanalytic theories, another factor that could explain why May-September romances have become more popular is probably because the age gap between men and women in movies is narrowing. In recent comedies, the male and female lead actors are usually only a few years apart in age, resulting in an increase in May-September romances that still have an age gap. This could be seen in movies like ‘It’s Complicated’ (2009) which starred Meryl Streep and Steve Martin, and ‘Trainwreck’ (2015) starring Amy Schumer and Bill Hader.
However, it seems that not all May-September romances are portrayed positively in popular culture. In particular, there has been criticism against the way that women are often portrayed as ‘powerless’ or ‘simplistic’. These women also tend to rely too heavily on their male partners, or just see their relationship only as a source of financial stability. On the other side of the coin, men are often portrayed as ‘mature’ or ‘wiser’, but also lacking on emotional intelligence.
Effects of May-September Romance Movies on Society
The portrayal of these relationships in movies have impacted society in multiple ways, most notably its effect on the real-life relationships. Since May-September relationships are accepted in popular culture, studies have shown that these types of relationships are becoming more and more accepted in certain sections of society. This includes households of different generations and even couples who married at a much later age.
There have also been discussions in the recent past about the effects of these movies on younger generations. With the increase in May-September romance movies, there has also been an increase in adolescents and young adults opting to date an older person, even if they are not in serious relationships. This is often because of the perceived benefits in terms of maturity and stability that are often characteristics attributed to older people.
Parallels between May-September Romances in Movies and Real-life
Although the depictions of May-September romances in movies do not always reflect real life, there are certain aspects that appear to echo them. For one, people often bring their own experiences into movies, meaning that they can relate to the story line and connect emotionally with the characters.
Another factor that makes May-September romance movies closer to reality than other genres is the fact that the really successful ones often focus on the everyday lives of the characters. It does not only show the ‘love story’, but also the struggles and problems no one else knows about. This makes these movies more realistic and relatable.
The Protagonists of May-September Romance Movies
Most May-September romance characters are often portrayed as ‘stereotypical’ or ‘archetypal’. This means that they usually carry certain characteristics that are usually associated with this genre of movies. One example of this is the ‘mature man’ who is portrayed as being wise and experienced, while the ‘younger woman’ is usually portrayed as being naive and inexperienced.
Other characters who have become more prominent in recent May-September romance movies include older female protagonists and younger male protagonists. These characters have been modeled to represent the changing values and attitudes of society today. The older female protagonists are usually independent, assertive and proactive, while the younger male protagonists are portrayed as sensitive, caring and protective.
May-September romance movies, although not always accurately depicting real life, are still an important part of popular culture. It has influenced society and relationships in many ways and continues to be a topic of discussion amongst moviegoers and movie critics. The success of the movies is due to their ability to relate to the audience and its ability to capture emotions and struggles that one may go through in a May-September relationship.