Ralph Bellamy was a character actor, sometimes known for playing "the almost." The almost right guy. He’s the one viewers thought, even for a moment, our female protagonist might just fall for in the end. In his roles in The Awful Truth and His Girl Friday, Bellamy didn’t get (or belong with) the girl. Bill Pullman in Sleepless In Seattle, total Bellamy, but it’s Peter Gallagher who plays the Bellamy to Pullman’s Mr. Right in While You Were Sleeping. In Writing the Romantic Comedy, the author coins this role as "The Bellamy."
I spent so much of my single life with Bellamys, though the ones I chose, more often than not, were Hugh Grant in Bridget Jones Diary kind of Bellamys: funnel cake, and not so much celery. Except when I found myself dating a safe celery-of-a-guy, as secure and at ease as I felt, I also pined for other and felt unfulfilled.
It always pissed me off when my friends didn’t take us seriously, whomever the guy, just because he was the first guy out of the gate after the tragic breakup. What would be the chances, in all likelihood, after all? Come on. It’s how I felt when I was young, too, sensing that tone, the one that refused to validate my feelings, the one that didn’t understand why I let myself fall so hard, the one that said, "You didn’t really think you’d end up together, did you?" Why would a young person ever bother with a relationship if they knew it wouldn’t last? That one day it would inevitably end? If someone from the future could swoop in and say, "This won’t ever be the one, so don’t invest too much," would we live differently? Fight for it less, refuse to compromise? Would it give us strength to leave? Or would it make us hold on tighter?
We date, not because we think it will last forever. We date because there are no guarantees, because we never really know what will happen. We date to learn about ourselves and others. It’s never a waste. It’s never "so much wasted time," as long as we learn something from it. What I want to know is, what does the Bellamy learn, always being left, or picked last?
And what happens to someone who always ends up with the Bellamy? Can we ever really be happy, deeply fulfilled, if we believe we’ve settled?
I realize this is a disparate thought, but I’ve also been thinking about male friendships as they’re portrayed in film. Typically, there’s been a touching moment, then the guys clear their throats, grunting with some guttural sounds and hard pats on the back–not true to life. A subset of the romantic comedy genre, or even a trend that can stand on its own is: BROmance. I don’t necessarily mean chick flicks guys actually enjoy (Brick Flicks), but rather movies about two straight guys becoming closer as friends, sharing their "I love you man" moments, drunk or otherwise, which in the end, move the audience into sniffle territory. What I want to know is, what are we going to coin it when the Bellamy in a romantic comedy gets a little bromance on with Mr. Right, either in lieu of our female protagonist, or simply as a "bi-product"–pun kinda intended?