Does Romeo and Juliet Suck?

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February 26, 2013
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NC: Hello, I'm the Nostalgia Critic, I remember it so you don't have to. Well, seeing as how we are in the last days of the Month of Love...

(Turns his head and gives a half smile at the camera as a heart with his annoyed face and the caption "Nostalgia Critic's month of love" appears below)

NC: (dismissively) Yeah, yeah, let's wrap this shit up. (Normal) I have a question about love concerning what is possibly the greatest love story of all time...does Romeo and Juliet suck?

NC (vo): Okay, let me be a little more specific. Does Romeo and Juliet suck as a love story? Everyone always regards it as being one of the best, if not the best, love story out there. It's Shakespeare's most known play, outside of Hamlet, and is one of the most celebrated. But, when you get down to it, what really happens in the tale? Two families are at war with each other; two star crossed lovers, one from each side, see each other at first glance and... decide they're in love. The two families say it is forbidden, and...

NC: Can't believe I am saying this, but spoilers!

NC (vo): They end up taking their lives because they can't live without one another. The ultimate in poetry, the ultimate in sorrow, but... the ultimate in romance? Well, let's look at how our two leads fell in love. They see each other... and boom, they're in love. Yeah, minute rice takes longer than that.

NC (vo): Now, granted, a lot of this comes down to whether you believe in the notion of love at first sight, which is an idea that seems to be dying more and more every day, and honestly, with good reason. Appearances can be deceiving, and just because someone looks like a perfect mate doesn't mean that they are. Personalities obviously play a much larger role in whether or not a relationship will survive. So, basing your ideal love just on their appearance is probably not the wisest. Now, that's not to say it can't happen. It's perfectly possible that the person you are most visually attracted to may also have the exact traits you need in a relationship. But I think most of us can agree it's pretty rare.

NC (vo): But, how they meet is one thing. How about the chemistry they share together? Well, from a dramatic standpoint, that's pretty weak too. Aside from just saying how much they love each other, they never share any real moments. They never discover if they have anything in common, they never compare their likes and dislikes, they don't discuss their past, they don't discuss their future. They just keep talking about how great it is to be in love, and I think a lot of people would question "does that really hold much water I terms of a relationship?" Well, what do we know about them individually? Well, we know they are both risk takers. They both care about their family, but not to the point where they want to be ran by them. We know they're determined, emotional, angry, but can still find their soft side and show their sensitivities to that special someone.

NC: So, the characters themselves are not really flat, but I think most can argue that the chemistry is.

NC (vo): Even romances that a lot of people hate, like The Notebook, Love Story, and yes, even Twilight, technically have better romances than Romeo and Juliet do. Yes, you heard it right here: Bella and Edward technically have more chemistry than Romeo and Juliet. Why? Because, even though they're done poorly, they do have a base to start from: they do talk to one another about their problems, their joys, and their hobbies, and give something, even if it's little to, go off of. So does that mean that the greatest love story of all time is actually the worst love story of all time?

NC: Well... that depends on what the play is trying to get across.

NC (vo): And I think you can make the argument that the play is not about true love, but rather about...young love. Many of us have been in love when we were young. In fact, most of our first loves came from when we were young, and do you remember what went through your head at the time? That's right: nothing about how gosh darn in love you were. It didn't matter what was wrong with the person or whether or not it would work in the long run; all you knew is you were in bliss, and nothing could knock you down from it. What you have is forever. It feels so good, it must last forever! But, did it last forever? For some of us, sure, but for many of us, we find these feelings of certainty we were experiencing were really just our reactions to first feeling these emotions. And chances are you broke up and dated more in order to find the right person.

NC (vo): But in a sense, that's what so tragic about Romeo and Juliet: They were never allowed to go through that. Because the families were so determined to keep the two apart, that just convinced their inner rebels that they loved each other even more. Because, as we all know, when you're young and in love, and other people tell you it's not going to work your out-of-control emotions want to prove even more how wrong they are. And you're going to fight harder and harder the more they try to pull you apart. And the more the families pull them apart, the more our love birds yearn to be closer - first to lying, then to marriage, then to running away, and then ultimately to taking their lives.

NC (vo): So, perhaps the focus of the story isn't as much the poetry of love as much as the tragedy of prejudice. If the prejudice of the two families was never there, chances are their relationship would be able to bloom more naturally. They could discuss it with people, feel more comfortable, wait it out and see if this person is truly the one. But because such strong, yet confusing, feelings are met with such hostility, the situation is dealt with more as a battle as opposed to a union. It becomes a fight to create who you are, and no longer a discovery. And, thus, that's why all are punished. Because everyone played a part in leading to their demise. Not just the star-crossed lovers themselves.

NC (vo): Perhaps, Shakespeare understood young romance better than we thought. He seems to comprehend the strong emotions of youth, the rebellious choices they cause, and how damaging it can be when the adults of the world are blinded by hate and do not show proper guidance. Maybe he had a greater understanding of love that we didn't see the first time around. A story that shows what happened when love is discovered, but not allowed to be explored. How damaging closed minds can be, and how much can be prevented through the simple act of accepting and listening.

NC (vo): So, I think, in the end, it is a love story, and a damn good one too. It just might take looking at it from an adult standpoint as opposed to a young standpoint, in order to figure that out. So, it's a very strong possibility that Shakespeare did know what he was doing, and was still the master we always thought he was before. And not even all the Claire Danes', Leonardo DiCaprios or Baz Luhrmanns of the world could diminish it.

NC: Though, granted, it was a pretty good try. I'm the Nostalgia Critic. I remember it so you don't have to.

(NC gets up and leaves)

(Credits roll)

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