Any viewer who’s seen a lot of romance movies knows all the quirks that make up the genre. There’s the meet-cute, the sidekick, the wholesome montage, the dramatic tension, the fight, the realization and the big love confession at the end. Tropes in films are used as recognizable plot devices that are meant to familiarize viewers with a certain genre. Netflix’s diverse array of romance originals certainly contains a lot of tropes, ranging from roughly cheesy to tenderly charming. One standout trope the global streaming service has used in several of its romance originals is the “fake love” trope.
The “fake love” trope, simply put, is when two individuals pretend to be in a romantic relationship. Both agree to it, hoping to gain something in return — whether that be recognition, approval or other external benefits. Of course, it’s never a smooth-sailing pact for the pretend couple, because what inevitably happens is that their fake love turns into real love. One of them catches feelings for the other, or they both fall in love at the same time. It’s quite the journey that makes these movies somewhat predictable yet undeniably exciting. Here are four Netflix original romance films that use the “fake love” trope.
1. To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before (2018)
Starting off with Netflix’s most popular teen romantic comedy film, “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before,” Lana Condor and Noah Centineo play high-school sweethearts Lara Jean Covey and Peter Kavinsky. But the endearing pair did not start out that way. After Lara Jean’s secret love letters to crushes she’s had over the years get out, she is forced to deal with the consequences. One of her dreamboat recipients, Peter, confronts her about his letter and she kisses him in a “fake-out make-out” to avoid an approaching Josh, her other love letter recipient and older sister’s ex-boyfriend who she’s secretly had a crush on for years. Talk about an awkward situation.
Peter later proposes the perfect plan to Lara Jean that is sure to benefit them both: a “fake-love” relationship. Peter gets to make his ex-girlfriend, Gen, who also happens to be Lara Jean’s nemesis, jealous in an “Operation: Jealousy” while Lara Jean gets to convince Josh that she’s not into him anymore. But as the movie unfolds, their initial plan starts to fade away as the two start to develop real feelings for each other in a “romantic fake-real turn.” By the end of the film, the pretend couple has become a real couple.
2. The Perfect Date (2019)
Noah Centineo continues his reign as Netflix’s teen heartthrob with Laura Marano in the romantic comedy “The Perfect Date.” But instead of a sweet and sincere love interest, he plays Brooks Rattigan, a self-absorbed high school student who will do anything he can to get into Yale, the school of his dreams. A blind chaser of the “finer things in life,” Brooks naively believes that he needs to drive the nicest car, date the most popular girl and attend the best school to be successful. But since he can’t afford to attend Yale just yet, he and his gay best friend, Murph, create a dating service app so that rich girls can order him as a chaperone and choose who he should be for their “perfect date.”
He teams up with the confident and cynical Celia Lieberman and starts a pretend relationship with her so that they can get the attention of their actual love interests in yet another “Operation: Jealousy.” Brooks is into the wealthy and beautiful Shelby, who he meets at a formal dance, while Celia has heart-eyes for vinyl aficionado Franklin. Inevitably, Brooks and Celia both discover that the people that they like are as dry as dirt and realize in a mutual “It Meant Something to Me” moment that they are supposed to be together. Brooks also ditches his app and realizes that he doesn’t have to fake things to get what he wants anymore.
3. Purple Hearts (2022)
Another popular drama romance film released this month, “Purple Hearts” stars Sofia Carson and Nicholas Galitzine as enemies turned lovers, Cassie and Luke. The two cannot be any more different as they lie on opposite sides of the political spectrum. Cassie is a liberal Democrat and daughter of an immigrant while Luke is a conservative Republican and a third-generation Marine. The two try their best to put aside their differences and enter a “marriage of convenience,” through which Cassie can have insurance for her insulin, and Luke can acquire enough military benefits from the government to pay off his former drug dealer. Even though it is pure fraud, the two believe that it is the best solution for both of their problems.
When Luke goes overseas to Iraq, the pretend partners stage video calls and naturally grow closer as they learn more about each other. As Cassie gains fame as a singer, Luke gets a severe leg injury and is forced to live with Cassie, coming home to a wary father. Eventually, everybody learns their secret, and Luke is sentenced to a six-month sentence in military prison. However, their fake love wasn’t for nothing. Along the way, the couple fall in love and profess their true love for each other in the film’s finale.
4. Wedding Season (2022)
Netflix’s latest romantic comedy, “Wedding Season,” stars Pallavi Sharda and Suraj Sharma as Asha and Ravi, two single Indian Americans with equally overbearing parents. Asha, a workaholic with a demanding microfinance job, meets her MIT graduate, “Indian Prince Charming” Ravi at a date that both of their parents set up. The two are tired of experiencing the same pressures from their parents to find a spouse and get married. So, to fend off the “matchmaking aunties” as Asha puts it, she insists that they pretend to date so that people think they’re off the market. In a trope known as “the beard,” Ravi and Asha both want to stop their nosy parents from nagging them about their love lives. Eventually, their love becomes real, and they fall head over heels for each other, just like their parents wanted.