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Three Tales of Unrequited Love
The Great Gatsby Tales of Unrequited Love

Our latest discussion on the podcast has got me thinking about the troubles of love. In fact, I’ve been dwelling on it since I re-watched a beloved film that speaks keenly about the subject, Last Night (2010). Add to that the fact that I just finished Pushing Daisies, and it’s not hard to see how such thoughts brought me to a particular form of love, the one they say it’s the purest: unrequited love.

Indeed to love someone knowing the feeling is not mutual is as selfless as it gets, but charity in the affairs of the heart seldom provides a happy ending. Though inherently sad, tales of unrequited love can be quite a beautiful thing when in the hands of a sensitive, and perceptive, author. Some focus on the pain, while others try to find something positive for the unloved swooning in the background to hold on to. But the best (and most heartbreaking) tales always drag on for years, fuelled by the hope of seeing the feeling returned.

When I think of this, three women always come to mind:

Pushing Daisies Olive Snook and Ned

Olive Snook & The Pie Maker

from Pushing Daisies

As far as TV shows go, How I Met Your Mother takes the prize for the most unfortunate love affair (the mother better hurry up now), but the most endearing story of rejection I’ve ever seen, is the one of the ever lasting love of Olive Snook for her magical pie maker, Ned.

It’s the love that inspired me to write this Valentine’s Day post, because never have I seen a show that so completely devotes a great part of itself to a character that is not even a third of a love triangle. Olive is outside looking in, observing a strange relationship that she doesn’t fully comprehend (the girl is back from the dead, they don’t touch, what’s up with that?), whilst staying friends with both Ned and Charlotte ‘Chuck’ Charles (aka, God’s intended for the pie maker).

Pushing Daisies GIF
Pushing Daisies GIF

That said, apart from a couple of scenes, this is not a sad story. Olive is a tiny firecracker who loves life and joyfully works everyday at the Pie Hole (yes I know, this show is hilarious), always eager to solve a mystery. She’s funny, compassionate, kind, and like most victims of unrequited love, hopeful. For two seasons she keeps believing that Ned’s heart might turn around, that one day he might look at her and be overwhelmed with a passion that was always inside of him. A simple touch or a smile, the mere suggestion from his part that there’s some truth to her dreams, and she’s once again dragged into a turmoil of daydreams and love songs.

But perhaps the best part of this imagined love affair comes when she is faced with reality. There’s tears and anger towards Ned and herself, but quickly too there is the calmness of realising that, with the acceptance of the truth, comes the possibility to move on. She might love him forever at some level, but that’s okay, because now she is free to see that love as something to remember with fondness, not something that is holding her back.

A Single Man George and Charley

Charley & George

from A Single Man

If one could still hope that Olive and Ned had something more than friendship between them, in Charley’s case there’s simply no chance, for George is playing a whole different ballgame. They’ve been friends for a long time now, supporting each other through the troubles and grievances in their personal lives. They’ve share the pain of Charley’s divorce, and the recent passing of George’s lover, Jim.

See Also

A Single Man GIF

When George needs her, she’s there, but Charlie’s fragile position has stirred some deep feelings towards him. Feelings she knows can never be returned, even though she still dreams and hopes of a life with George. Maybe these come from a moment of loneliness and confusion, perpetuated by the eccentric mind and self-centred world in which she lives in. But they are there, and in a key scene she decides to act on them, as if unaware of their utopian nature. It’s a sad tale, but there can be great beauty in sadness and fragility, and Julianne Moore embraces it to perfection.

Four Weddings and a Funeral Charles and Fiona

Fiona & Charles

from Four Weddings and a Funeral

Lastly, we have Fiona. An old friend of Charles, who not only has been in love with him for years, but also has to go through the pain of watching him fall in love and marry someone else, not even suspecting the feelings she has for him. Perhaps she hid them too well, sensing that he didn’t feel the same, but that doesn’t diminish the suffering; in fact, like a silent cry, it only increases it.

Four Weddings and a Funeral GIF
Four Weddings and a Funeral GIF

I’ve always loved Kristin Scott Thomas’s performance here, for being so subtle and nuanced. I find myself rooting for her, begging Charles to see her, really see her. But just like she can’t just stop loving him, he can’t simply start loving her. And that’s the sad truth to every tale of the sort. When it comes to unrequited love, which tales come to your mind?

View Comments (18)
  • Aww love this post. I still root for KST, I don’t care if Grant chose McDowell.

    I can only think of Jon Cryer from Pretty in Pink atm. What a sad twist that was. Oh oh and Gordo from Lizzie Maguire. HE WAS PERFECT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • It’s one of my favourite films but I’m always so pissed at Charles in the end!

      Never seen Pretty in Pink, but ohh Gordo! You’re right, he was so cute. I miss those Lizzie Maguire times.

  • At the moment, I find myself suffering from the same affliction. It is NOT an ideal situation to be in and every day I wish things were different. This post touched my heart and made me think deep thoughts that should have stayed dormant. Now I`m a mess again (thanks lol) …

    Four Weddings and A Funeral is one of my absolute favourite films and Fiona is my favourite character. Perhaps I like her best because I relate to her the most. I still think that her and Charles should have ended up together, instead of him marrying the drab American.

    • Oh I’m right there with you Vanessa, I know the feeling. I guess that’s why I love Fiona as well, and why Olive was the reason I sprinted through Pushing Daisies. And ultimately why I wrote this post for Valentine’s Day!

      If you haven’t seen the show Pushing Daisies, I suggest you do it, it’s like a kind of cinematic therapy. Just ignore the happy couple and focus on Olive. Plus it only has like 20 episodes or so!

  • Lovely and yet sad. I totally agree that Olivie really didn’t cry over it, she loved him, yes, but she didn’t fall into the big black whole of despair and just.. kept on loving him in that happy-go-lucky kind of way.

  • Great post! Pushing Daisies is one of my favorite shows, and as much as I love Charlotte and Ned, Olive’s infatuation is super super sweet. Your description of both their characters is so spot-on – I. can’t. even. 🙂

  • Hello Sofia! Thanks for visiting my blog, now we’ve discovered each other 😀 Awesome idea for a V-day list. I love that you included Charles and Fiona, I actually dedicated a post for that unrequited love story.

    I kind of think Roman Holiday is about unrequited love, though it’s from external forces outside of the two people involved, as both Joe & Princess Ann both love each other.

  • I could emphasize with the character of Fiona from Four Weddings(Never saw, dont plan to). There was a girl that I loved , but she never saw me that way, and I had to watch her marry my best friend. Things are cool now between us, but it was kind of hurtful. Good post

  • You just HAD to bring up Donna and Harvey, didn’t you? 😀 Lovely post, Sofia! I still haven’t seen A Single Man, but I can’t wait to…

    • they are, but Pushing Daisies is exactly the opposite! Charley and Fiona should learn from Snook how to accept unrequited love, it would make everything a bit easier.

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