For a long time, I’ve wanted to make a reality TV dating show called The Tedious and the Mundane, where a newly introduced couple has to shop for groceries for the week and see if there are sparks. Because, helicopter and hot air balloon rides—really, any personal air travel—is not a part of a real relationship. To me, any sound love is based on an initial attraction, a shared sense of humor, and a willingness to do tedious things with the other person.
Short of a grocery shopping dating show, I recommend This Is 40. Disclaimer: I’m not great at recommending movies because I rarely see them. And even with my ignorance of the field, I can acknowledge that this movie is too long, is concerned with problems that affect only the white and the wealthy, and demands an appreciation of the director’s wife’s ass.
Still. Most movies show the beginning of relationships, when the social differences between a management consultant and a prostitute are endearing, when the energy of the new love between a klutzy woman and a hunky man radiate off the screen. But how these couples will figure out whether to watch Masterpiece Theater or Sunday night football in the future is left to an unmade sequel.
This Is 40 shows what it is to be committed to someone who isn’t perfect, who can be selfish and difficult, and whose home you must, out of will, practicality, and some genuine affection, continue to share. While the central 40 year-old couple in the movie resolves some of their issues by the end, the audience knows, even if the couple pretends not to, that many of these problems will return.
Everyone I know in a relationship is working against something—a husband who drinks too much, a girlfriend who is bad with money, a fiancé who plays smartphone games during dinner—that could be a deal breaker for someone else. But despite intermittent complaining, they have all chosen to accept one set of problems as their own. This Is 40 shows what it means to be in an imperfect relationship, and stay along anyway.