I actually love both this movie and this show because they're realistic (no one ever really does learn anything), but as far as pushing bad lessons on romantic guy morons, they're both very guilty. The basic moral is "Learn no lessons from past relationships: If something didn't work out, it wasn't 'meant to be,' so just wait around for someone who does conform to all of your preset expectations." Whenever a character in a movie has flaws that are objectively detrimental, the movie will never teach us to, hey, maybe work on those flaws; the movie says, "No, you're fine, everyone else is wrong, just wait around for the PERFECT GIRL WHO WILL SOLVE AND ACCEPT EVERYTHING. Because relationships are easy and require absolutely no work, compromise, or self-awareness."
And sure, eventually someone will come along that DOES love all of the weirdest and quirkiest aspects of your personality, but assuming that all you need to do is sit around and imagine him/her is wrong. That attitude is just going to breed generation after generation of lazy people. Eventually, you'll get two people in a room together who were both raised on pop culture, both of them assuming that the other will accept and love all of their flaws, neither of them budging. And what happens then?
It could be worse, I guess. Hollywood could be teaching the opposite lesson and telling everyone that...
Being in a Healthy Relationship Means Changing Yourself Completely
The Thing: "Look, Baby, I know you were mad at me because you hated all of my friends, and the way I dressed, and my apartment, and everything else I've ever cultivated throughout my entire life that has contributed to my personality, but I want you to know that I've gotten rid of all of that. For you!"
"Oh, Darling. That's all I ever wanted! You had me at 'I'm a different person now.'"
Worst Offenders: Knocked Up, and basically any movie starring either a Wilson brother or a Heigl.
These movies take a good lesson, (being in a relationship sometimes means compromise, empathy, and growing the shit up), and taking it to the extreme, (by completely transforming yourself into the person your girlfriend/boyfriend actually wants to date). To get the girl in Knocked Up, the main character moves, gets a new job, and reduces ties with his old friends, and while there's something undeniably romantic about going to great lengths to please and impress the person you're in love with, it is in no way a healthy move. Because, eventually, he'll miss hid old life, the one he abruptly gave up to impress his girlfriend after they got in a fight. He'll miss the life that he loved and enjoyed, and he'll miss all of his friends and, eventually, he'll resent his girlfriend turned wife turned inevitable ex-wife, because she's the one who made him give it all up.
No one enters a relationship as the perfect boyfriend or girlfriend. There are always necessary adjustments. But Hollywood is sucking that message in and repackaging it, saying, "If you really care about someone, you'll respect that she would only like you if you were a completely different person, and you'll adjust accordingly." It's why Seth Rogen will become a new person over and over again, and it's why all of those whatshisnames will do all of those life-changing things to impress Drew Barrymore in those movies I've never actually seen. And when people do it in real life, it's why couples break up or get divorced.
Just once, I'd like to see a Hollywood movie about two well-adjusted, intelligent characters who have a mature relationship based on trust and mutual respect. They run into some problems, but they work through them together, because they're reasonable and they care about each other.
Actually, that movie sounds boring as shit. I changed my mind -- keep doing what you're doing, Hollywood. Maybe throw in a few more robots punching other robots.
Daniel O'Brien is Cracked.com's Senior Writer (ladies), and he's still watching New Girl despite his rage, (Zooey Deschanel).