With the recent release of Book Club, I began wondering about the whole “Love After Divorce” genre that seemed to be appearing more often in mass entertainment films. The Book Club, which centers around women in their seventies trying to find new romance after divorce (two divorce, one widow), falls on the older end of the spectrum in terms of age for the genre, but still holds many of the tropes that make it a good representation. Finding a man in his fifties whose rich and attractive, having a happy ending, plenty of women’s bonding moments, struggling to get back into the dating realm, and many others. And despite its worse-for-wear reviews, it was mildly successful, making $53 million in the domestic box office, while the movie had been made with a budget of $10 million.
The success got me thinking-what makes these films so appealing? Upon looking into it, I found blog upon blog of women talking about their favorite “Love After Divorce” films, all with tales about how many of the films they didn’t like until after they got divorced. Which makes sense, as those who face the troubles are divorce are more likely to relate to a light-hearted film about finding love in the time after, but is there that much of a base for it?
Well, according to the American Psychological Association, anywhere between 40 to 50% of all marriages end in divorce after the first marriage in the United States-with the divorce rate for subsequent marriages being even higher than that. With that in mind, the base for the “Love After Divorce” genre becomes that much bigger- especially when divorce happens to women who are middle-aged, and haven’t been in the dating sphere for decades (if at all). The light-heartedness of the films also adds to cheering women up after a rough divorce-as many blog testimonials will tell. And I can’t entirely say that that isn’t possible.
From the “Love After Divorce” films I’ve seen, it’s hard to say that the films are anything beyond cliche chick-flick money-grabs. But then again, I am not divorced, and I am certainly not middle aged. I am not a part of the demographic that is being targeted by these movies, and I can’t relate to someone going through a divorce. Divorce is a rough experience, not just for the spouses but also for any other family member involved. And if it had been a long marriage, it can be rough on self-image and self-esteem. A movie about finding an attractive rich man might just be what someone needs to feel more confident. I can’t knock something like that.
While the films tend to follow the same tropes (which had led to the doom of rom coms), they seem to maintain an appeal and audience, which is something to note.