Remaking “When Harry Met Sally” for a Modern Audience

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There are a lot of articles that describe how When Harry Met Sally would be different in today’s world of iphones, online dating sites and free hook up culture. They have a point, but many of them miss the fact that there is a lot that hasn’t changed about the dating scene as well. Take away all of the technology, alternatives to the traditional gendered relationship and attitudes towards sex (though the 80s might have been just as, if not more, liberal when it came to hooking up), and what are you left with? The need for connection and love, the quest for that right partner, the perilous navigation of the waters between friends and friends with benefits are all still central to the dating scene.

25 years later, When Harry Met Sally might be outdated when it comes to technology and, let’s face it, hair-dos, but it endures because it is essentially about the same struggles we still face today: how do men and women connect given the fundamentally different way we’ve been socialized to see the world? More importantly, how do we find love?

Differences:

Harry wouldn’t have relied on his girlfriend du jour to have set him up with a ride from Sally.

When Harry Met Sally, Released 1989, by Castle Rock Entertainment, Distributed by Columbia Pictures

When Harry Met Sally, Released 1989, by Castle Rock Entertainment, Distributed by Columbia Pictures

In fact, he wouldn’t even  have called her his girlfriend but simply a “hook up”, thus alleviating all guilt about having forgotten her name years later. They would have been using a car share ride app and yelp to direct them to the best reviewed roadside burger joint.

They wouldn’t have waited five years before seeing each other again.

They would have friended each other on Facebook the moment they decided to ride together in order to check each other out. Sally would have taken a pic of Harry driving and instantly instagrammed it. She would have asked for his handle so she could share it with him, thus sealing their friend status on social media during those years when they were not in face to face contact. Even if they were friends in real life, they would still get little missives from the social mediasphere about what each was up to: new job, new relationship status, etc. And yes, they would be kind of curious...

Harry’s whole spiel about men not being able to be friends with women would not make sense given the many alternatives to the gender binary.

When Harry Met Sally, Released 1989, by Castle Rock Entertainment, Distributed by Columbia Picture

When Harry Met Sally, Released 1989, by Castle Rock Entertainment, Distributed by Columbia Picture

If sex gets in the way of being friends with people you might be sexually attracted to then it follows that given that the gender binary is being dismantled, nobody today would have any friends…

Also, Harry wouldn’t be able to deny he said it years later because Sally would have archived the tweet she posted and thus forwarded to him the moment he denied it.

Marie’s filing system would be a complicated spreadsheet. It would describe the merits of each dating site she subscribes to including what kind of men and type of relationship each one provides. Inside the datings apps she would have a complicated criteria defined for choosing a love interest.  She would favour the video dating apps where she could actually see the person, having been burned multiple times by someone who looked good on screen but turned out to be 20 years older and 200 pounds heavier in person.

There would be a lot more texting and a lot less talking on the phone…

When Harry Met Sally, Released 1989, by Castle Rock Entertainment, Distributed by Columbia Picture

When Harry Met Sally, Released 1989, by Castle Rock Entertainment, Distributed by Columbia Picture

Also pictures. Harry would rant in full sentences while Sally would respond with a slew of different coloured happy face emoticons.

Who would write it?

Tina Fey? Amy Schumer? Who is the next Nora Ephron? Discuss.

 

Tina Fey attribution: By Mingle Media TV -, CC BY-SA 2.0, wikimedia commons

Tina Fey attribution: By Mingle Media TV -, CC BY-SA 2.0, wikimedia commons

Nora Ephron attribution: By David Shankbone - Own work, CC BY 3.0, wikimedia commons

Nora Ephron attribution: By David Shankbone - Own work, CC BY 3.0, wikimedia commons

So much easier to hook up with people.

If Harry and Sally were interested in simply hooking up with other people, they would have. They’d have come across each other on a dating site, recognised one  another and hooked up. Or not.  After that long car ride, they might have both felt even just a plain hook up was too much trouble and blocked each other’s profiles.

So. Much. Harder. To. Avoid. Your. Ex.

Even if Harry blocked his ex-wife on social media, he would still come across photos and news of her via mutual friends. Alternatively he would be able to track her location via Find My Friends and always know where she is at all times, thus being able to avoid her, but also driving himself crazy in the meantime.

Similarities:

We are all still looking for love.

When Harry Met Sally, Released 1989, by Castle Rock Entertainment, Distributed by Columbia Pictures

When Harry Met Sally, Released 1989, by Castle Rock Entertainment, Distributed by Columbia Pictures

Although most reviews of the film state the raison- d’être of When Harry Met Sally  was to ask whether men and women can be friends without sex, I disagree. The film is what all romantic comedies are about: finding love. And that is why it is timeless: at the end of the day, we all want to come home to someone who loves us. We might be going about it in a different way than the Harry met Sally era (though I’m pretty sure Marie was wireframing an early prototype of a dating app with her filofax system), but essentially the goal is the same: we want someone to love and who will love us back.

Still struggling to understand what the hell the other is thinking.

When Harry Met Sally, Released 1989, by Castle Rock Entertainment, Distributed by Columbia Pictures

When Harry Met Sally, Released 1989, by Castle Rock Entertainment, Distributed by Columbia Pictures

Ahhh gender. Alas, the whole men are from Mars, women are from Venus crap is still alive and well. Trying to figure out what the other is thinking still feels like a chinese puzzle wrapped in a sphinx-like riddle. Heck, gender aside, it is amazing,  given all of the different variables that go into building our own unique experiences, that we can communicate at all with anyone, let alone with someone from the other sex. It is almost as miraculous as childbirth, or a non-stupid Adam Sandler movie if you think about it.

Love is still confusing.

Love is still hard, especially new love. Do they feel the same way I do? Why are they running away from me? Did we make a mistake taking our friendship to the next level?  Ugh. Why do we subject ourselves to the constant doubt, the stomach churning, heart-stopping effects of love?

Because, just as Harry and Sally discover,  in the end it is worth it. Love might be hard and confusing, but it is also what allows us to grow as human beings, to thrive and feel supported. As Harry says in what is arguably one of the most romantic lines in the history of cinema: “I came here tonight because when you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.”

Luckily, the search for love is a lot easier these days with video dating apps like Zepeel. Start the rest of your life as soon as possible and join now to find your Harry or Sally.


 

 

 

By Lina Branter

Bio: In her previous life, Lina Branter was a writer and high school librarian in Montreal, subversively feeding excellent novels and other important information to high school girls. Now she's living the gnome life in a backyard garden shed in Victoria, BC, writing, watching humming birds and occasionally emitting a maniacal laughter as she plots to right all the wrongs of the world one blog post at a time. To read more of her writing go to linabranter.wordpress.com

 
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