There’s a scene in my all-time favorite ’80s movie, Parenthood, where Dianne Weist’s character Helen helps get her teenage daughter (played by Martha Plimpton) and her husband (played by Keanu Reeves) back together. Helen’s son (played by Joaquin Phoenix — man, what a star studded cast!) is in awe that his mom’s tactics have worked. She brushes it off, sighs and says, “I give them six months. Three, if she cooks.” That, right there, is how I feel looking back at some of my most beloved ’80s movies. I’m pretty sure that growing up watching these flicks ad naseum put ideas into my head about what is actually possible in love: the frizzy-haired Jewish girl gets the hunky dance instructor, or the awkward red head (and birthday girl) landing the unattainable Senior. And while I’d still like to believe that love can be found between even the most unlikely of people, now that I have some life and dating experience under my belt, I know well enough it doesn’t mean it will last. And so I present to you: ’80s movie couples that likely didn’t make it past the end credits.
Dirty Dancing: Frances “Baby” Houseman & Johnny Castle
There’s a reason why the finale song is called ‘(I’ve Had) The Time Of My Life’ and not ‘(I’ve Had) A Lifetime With You, Baby’ — odds are these two only lasted till the infamous “Turkey Dump”. Why? Let’s see, Baby starts school at Mt. Holyoke, she’s wrapped up in her World Economics studies and campus activists groups (remember how she packed up the leftover food for the Peace Corps?) and suddenly she and Johnny have less and less to talk about during their weekly phone calls. She’s doesn’t have the time to keep up with her dancing and he doesn’t understand the pressures of her midterm papers or what she’s even studying. She’ll soon have to face the facts that he’s a fond memory from her past, much like Kellerman’s itself. Doing the right thing is what Baby does best, which is why she’ll break it off with him. Besides, Johnny’d be much happier marrying Penny and opening up a dance school in suburbia together while Baby eventually becomes a lobbyist for Planned Parenthood to make sure all women have access to safe abortions.
Sixteen Candles: Samantha Baker & Jake Ryan
It’s nice that Sam was able to lose her virginity (I mean, right? She eventually loses her virginity to him?) to Jake, the boy of her dreams. And, “He got me my panties back after I lent them to a geek” would make for an incredibly romantic write up in the Weddings section of the New York Times. But let’s face it: Sam is the kind of girl who needs to get out of Shermer, Illinois to some place where she can come into her own, out of the shadow of her older sister Ginny and a town where she was literally forgettable — even on her 16th birthday! Jake is the state school type. So maybe she stayed with him his first two years at college, visiting on weekends and on vacation breaks, but you know when Sam got into her dream school out of state, it was time for her to move on. Jake’s the kind of guy who will move back to his hometown and drive around Shermer in his aging red Porsche. While Samantha, on the other hand, will come home only for obligations and bolt the moment Christmas dinner is over. If you’re looking for longevity in this movie, look to Long Duck Dong and Marlene, who by now probably have a house full of kids.
Pretty In Pink: Andie Walsh & Blane McDonough
The first time I heard that John Hughes originally had Andie end up with Duckie, I was shocked. Andie and Blane, those star-crossed lovers, belong together — or so I naively thought. The thing is, in relationships you have to be able to co-exist in each other’s worlds. It’s not about one person conforming and adopting the other’s life and friends, abandoning their own life completely (and let’s face it, these kids couldn’t even pull that off). Unless Andie and Blane are going to run off after graduation and start a new life where they make a whole new set of friends and colleagues as a couple, it just won’t work out. I take that back – even that won’t make for a happy ending. From what I can gather of Blane, he’s what you’d call in Yiddish a ‘Shmendrick’ (“milquetoast” as my mother would say). He barely had the spine to tell off his awful friends. And you best believe a guy like that is going to go to college where Mommy and Daddy have connections and will “land his first job” after Daddy-o pulls some strings. This will always be a sore point of contention for Andie, who will still have to bust her ass to get ahead in life. She’s not now nor will she ever be the kind to spend her weekends at the country club, and that’s the world Blane feels safest in. Eventually, Iona from the record store will set her straight. Still, you gotta give the guy credit for being seen in public with her and that awful dress. (Seriously, the worst.)