Jonelle and guest Kate Kerns tackle the ever-popular Christian romance subgenre and one of its lesser-known examples, In-Lawfully Yours (2016). As they try to parse out what faith's got to do with it, they cover C.S. Lewis, bad acoustic guitar soundtracks, and how much incest is too much incest.Support the show
chick flicks, Romantic comedies Wrong You love that. You hate that. But we're here to a misery. Welcome to the wrong calm killjoys. Podcast. I'm your host, General Walker. Now, let's get on with some feminists. Joy killing everyone. So we covered thus far. Cem Cem. Pretty big budget, big studio, Big name Rahm coms. But of course, we shan't forgets the B movie. Rahm calms the Hallmark Movie. Romcom is the Hallmark movie parodies parodies on Netflix. And so today we're going to be discussing our first of that ilk. And there's no better person to discuss films of this ilk to the end degree with a great degree of skepticism and keen criticism. Then Kate Kearns. Welcome to the show. Okay, currents tell the people thank
you. Um, well, I'm Kate Currents. Um, I work in marketing at a local theater for my day job, so I get to think about stories in depth in that capacity. Um, and then when I'm done trying to sell super artsy theater stuff, I come home and I ghost write romance novels. So, um, I love romantic comedies both as just something to love and watch and appreciate. And, you know, when's that? But I'm also normally watching with an eye towards If something doesn't work, why doesn't it work? What larger problems does that create in the story? Because then, you know, once I can solve it, I can either avoid that pitfall or if they find a way around it, you know, I can steal it.
Oh, boy. And I cannot wait to hear how you apply that key and I to this particular film which wasjust so everybody is clear. A suggestion from Kay and I had not seen it before. So I am just thrilled to discuss this with her. The film is called in lawfully. Yours?
Yes. And I did not know it was a Christian romance when I hit play the first time. Like the thing with watching so many B level romantic comedies is every now and then you accidentally start watching her Christian romance. And like most the time, you could tell right away and go. Nope, nope, Out. And this time it started off, and I thought it was just a romance about Christian characters. And by the time I realized Oh, no, wait. We're all it. There's like, inspirational Christian music I was like, This is too far. And now we need to watch this like trash fire and see what happens next. If this is your genre, if somebody out there loves Christian, romance is like, I don't want to yak on your yum. Good for you, Love. What? You love this? I'm just talking about why this didn't work for me. And what I think it doesn't work for a lot of people with similar expectations in life experiences.
Yes, I agree. I think what we're dealing with in the film and lawfully yours is so much more than just part of the genre of the Christian romance. I mean, really it it offers so much to so many. It is a Christian romance. It is a big town girl, small town boy story. It is a wacky of bed trick comedy. Perhaps there's so much here. There's so much offer. So before we get too much deeper into it, let's go for a summary of this film, which I'm pulling from Amazon instead of my usual Google. Because this movie is more obscure than the others and Amazon offers the better summary. Here we go in lawfully, yours made in the Year of Our Lord 2016. In Lawfully, Yours is a romantic comedy about Jesse, a fun loving New York City girl who, after her husband, Chazz, cheats on and divorces her, still graciously helped her recently widowed mother in law, Naomi, pack up her home in small town Bethel Cove. But Jessie's candid wit, eccentric questions and big city ways clashed with the local community. When Jesse Butts heads with the town pastor Ben, who also happens to be her ex husband's brother in law, the unlikely duo discover what they're both looking for each other. But when Jesse and Ben make their relationship public, Jessie's ex husband rallies the community against her and gets been fired from the church. Jesse leaves Beckel Cove to bring peace to bend situation and to hopefully find a place where she truly belongs. In spite of the fact that you can't stop thinking about Ben well, Kate, that's what Amazon says that this movie is about. What does this movie really about when we get down to it?
I think it's a lot of different movies. I think that, uh, one of the I think one of the things that's going for is that kind of chased type romance where there's like, supposed to be this, like lots of good dialogue. But you can tell that where this probably watch Sleepless in Seattle. And, like other Nora Ephron things, where it's about more the romance about taking place within a community and how that community works in a little bit less about like, you know, sex in the city. And, you know, it's very much like about how these people fit in their communities and what that says about how they could fit or could not fit with each other. And then there's the other element of just, you know, Outsider comes in, shakes up a community. It kind of works and kind of dozen because, like, they don't really come down firmly on how much the community needs to be shaken up, because at first it's like, Oh, no, she she doesn't seem fun loving like Justus. A side note, she seems normal. She doesn't seem like fun loving.
Yeah, I think actually, we should get into that.
Like she her intro is her walking in on her ex husband, cheating on her. It's like the intern moment is great, by the way. I do love the partner in turn, like upon finding out that his dad is in the hospital like the intern goes to, like give the husband a hug while he's naked in front of his wife like comfort. It's just like that's the thing that is weird about this movie is there are moments where, like, I'm never gonna be like, critically acclaimed. But there are moments of like, Okay, you get the genre, you know what this is supposed to be? Oh, and then it goes back to being a latte and blab. There is also the grief story, like the mom, the woman who plays the mother in law that they both call Mom, which, like does not help the incest joke factor, both of their her Jessie's mother in law in the pastor's mother and a lot like that actress. The way she plays her grief over losing her husband is so genuine compared to everything else that is going on in the movie.
Yeah, there's a scene where she's walking down a hallway and she's just dragging her fingertips across the wall, and I thought, Dad, this is profound this does not belong in this movie. It's actually quite moving that scene, where she kind of bust into the hotel room and finds her husband sleeping with his intern. It does sort of set you up well for a certain kind of romantic comedy and a certain kind of character. At first I thought, This is the plucky girl who's been like screwed around by men and she's gonna say like no more to men like I don't believe in romance anymore. And I thought that that was the movie of your betting getting set up for on. Then suddenly we have this grief storyline, as you say, and our meet cute notably happens. Oh yeah, at a funeral. And I have to say that I wrote. I wrote in my notes. Wow, the cute is her kicking a guy into a grave hashtag goals, which I stand by
Excellent. Yes, I fully support that. I like that. His introduction is him brushing the dirt off his shoulders, like right before he launches into the funeral for their mutual father in law. Um, like they're just like their elements of that were like that would fit so perfectly in like like a dark, indie comedy romance kind of thing, like they're just elements of this that feel like a different sound track. They could be in an entirely different movie, and I feel like that makes it hard for me to draw cohesive lessons from this movie because it does feel like it's going in lots of different places. Hey, as I
exited the top, there's so many different sort of romcom tropes going on here that it almost feels like a smorgasbord. Right? Like you said, you have the cheating husband. You have the woman who's been scored. You have hot pastor. You have big city girl in a small city. Let's talk about it. Is betting the pastor hot? What is yourself?
Okay, Okay, I I will I goes first. Cute. I think they made like he was solid b movie. Attractive. I don't think we can go. A sw far is hot. I don't think he ever does anything that you're like, Oh, God, Yes, lusty. I would fuck him. That said I do 100% sand by their characterization of him as having horrible dad jokes. That is true of like not every pastor person I know, but like, ah, high number of religious people phone like we're super involved in church. Like like, those are the only ones they can make everybody, so that you're really invested. I do like that characterization. Yeah, he struck
me is actually, well, maybe not a zoo. Discussed a hot pastor. He struck me as a believable character and I was totally down for it. Whereas Jesse as a character. So strange. So she's supposedly this big city, New York girl who's too big for her britches. I guess it is like to feisty and asks too many questions.
Which fate now answer. Sorry rate. And you really
don't They never answer her question
the like scene where she stands up during the homily and starts mean like, Okay, yo, but question on the one hand, cringeworthy like, realistically, you have to buy in that somehow she somehow missed the part where you're not supposed to ask questions during a homily, But like, once they're in it, like I feel like the good version of this scene would have been like, um, you know, in little women that just came out where professor bears like correcting Joe's writing, and he's the first person who's cared enough to correct it. Like the good version of this scene is, she's the first person who's cared enough in a long time to, like, call him on the part where he drops a note card and makes no sense in a sermon. You know, like so there were elements of that there, but then, but you have to buy into the fact that she is so oblivious in order to get back,
right? So how can she simultaneously sleepy this, like, oblivious, um, naivete character. But we're also supposed to believe that she's such a big city, city slicker like big personality girl that everybody in the town believes that she is a harlot. More lessons cheated on her husband, and also that even though she doesn't seem to have a job and that her profession seems to be taking care of her mother in law, that she's somehow like not a suitable character in this small town in Virginia, which actually sounds like quite a thing that people would expect her to D'oh!
And they they do have that nod to it of like, Oh, she dropped. She was in early education in college, she dropped out to support Horrible X's career like there are. And then there's the opportunity where she has to interact with kids during the course of the story. And you kind of see that. But then they don't use that as one of the things that I love about Rahm comes is when they let characters come in not to just themselves as a couple but themselves as individuals and show them moving on and, you know, taking up whatever their career isn't, even if that is ridiculous or if it's shedding what their career is. And this storied kind of nodded to that in that it's like, Oh, she has a job working with kids. But she has a job that she gets without any further licensing requirements at a pastor because they're at a church because her boyfriend is the pastor, like But
yeah, and there is there such a cringe worthy signor that happens to you were there at a diner, and she basically says, Oh, no, I've run out of money. They won't accept my credit cards anymore. Whatever will I do. And he says, Well, you could work for the local passage says, Oh, well, I have Thio interview forward, and he says, Oh, no, uh, it's all good, Weird, you
know? Oh, God, so horrible, So horrible, so far away. It's not good to know
it is okay, I think, though maybe the part about this that I find the most cringe worthy, which I cannot believe we have yet to discuss is that the conceit of this film is essentially a Renaissance incest plot where you have siblings in law who were being sort of set up by their former mother in law. So I just kept thinking of Hamlet running around talking about like a most unnatural betting. Like, I think there's something about it is just borderline creepy. I don't know what are your thoughts about this?
I think that the plot is not inherently borderline creepy. I think they could have solved it relatively simply by just not having them call their mother in law. Mom, you know, or like have one of them be more distant from the mom and the other. Like, you know, Clueless manages to have her go for step brother, which is, like, way closer. I don't know how that works, Yes, So I don't feel like it's inherently broken. I feel like it's not okay. So when I'm ghost writing, all often get tropes that I'm like you. I do not like Pat Trope. I find it very problematic. So that, like sometimes it's like, oh, dating her boss or whatever. Then I have to figure out Okay, what do I do? How do we set up this story? So that that element of it is not, you know, best boring and at worst, morally objectionable. And it feels like in several places here they which is interesting for a movie about a religious community which theoretically cares about morals like they didn't really think through the moral implications of several points of the story, which, to me gets in the way of it. Having a feel good like I don't need you to be a quote good person to be the hero or here whenever romantic comedy. But I need there to be an element of ship emotional justice in the world that has been created,
and I don't think this movie had it. Yeah, because even because Jessie's journey in this case is our is our Lady protagonists. I mean, she's getting over her horrible husband, who cheats on her all of the time and then has the gall to say that he's morally superior to her in some way because he's not pursuing the widower of his sister, which feels so frustrating in so many ways, and then that his mother backs him up about it at one point, which is just horrifying. Jessie's journey kind of going from the scorned wife of a rampant cheater to the, you know, loving wife of local pastor is it is a journey. But I think you're right. There's not a lot of emotional justice in it, unless you believe in the sort of conversion story at the heart
of Yeah, like she doesn't grow as a person. She just walks out a do she man for a good man, which, realistically, like that's kind of how a lot of relationships like growth, happens. Sometimes there actually isn't anything wrong with you or nothing that bad. Wrong with you, it is actually the person you're with, and when you're with a better person like it does not magically make your life perfect. But like not dating someone who's cheating on you magically solves a lot of problems. So, like there's an element of realism ish, but like, that's not what we go to stories for. We go to it for that character arc. And the only arc that she does is our king into belonging in this community and the part where it starts. The story starts faltering for me is actually once she like she and Ben are dating and she has the job at the church, and she's magically dispensing wonderful advice to this girl about in my notes. I had Pearl metaphor, So Cringe E and then an underlying seven times like you know, she's like citing these stories that she didn't had no idea even existed a second ago and doing it in casually and awesomely but like in that horrible youth pastor boys, the thing with an outsider. What? Oh, this person is coming into this community that needs to be shaken up and causing trouble by shaking up this community. There needs to be a little bit more, have no ever wreck assed more complications, Maur something because it just feels like she is. It feels like she has seen the light and now she's a different person, but she isn't actually a different person. She just knows Bible races now.
Yes, they had a non believing city girl myself. I did. I find it very difficult to connect with Jesse, and it made me think a lot about how, as a person who did not grow up in faith, you didn't grow up going to church that these Christian romances are difficult for me to sort of understand. But I think it's worth talking about why they're so popular and what they give to people as, ah kind of form for the wrong come. I mean, what are your thoughts about that?
So I was thinking about that in actually in relation to see us Lieutenant Lewis and The Chronicles of Narnia. The idea that, like obviously their parts of those that have aged horribly, they honestly read a much better. When you're a kid and don't realize all the you know colonialism, you're also absorbing. But like there is this idea of it works entirely in and of itself as a solid fantasy story. Then also, if Christianity is meaning for both for you and if you're burst in its you know tropes and stories and metaphors. Then you have this stacking of layers where you're also getting this other richness on top that the story doesn't need and still functions without. But it's there if you are part of that community. And I think in my ideal world that's what a Christian romance would be. It would be a romance that functions in and of itself as a romance. But then also, if you're part of this community, it's written in a way where you get to see yourself reflected and you get nuance that maybe you wanna get otherwise the ones that I have seen so far, which I haven't seen many of them. But there isn't as much of that. It should function in and of itself. Whether or not you believe religious community is like when they work well, One of the things that they do work do very well is offering people a sense of community and under conditional support. And I think romantic comedies, when they work well, often do a good job of portraying community and unconditional support. So it seems like the two things should go in hand in hand a lot better than I have yet to see them go hand in hand, and I'm not really willing. Watch enough to, like, find out if it's just cause I'm not watching enough.
That makes me think, too, that this movie, I mean it gets a degree towards this idea, finding community and finding a place you belong and unconditional support. So I see that in this movie, or at least it's trying to do that. But I think you're right. It doesn't really function, though, in that same way, without believing really strongly in Jessie's sort of sudden conversion to good personhood through religious conversion. And I think that that's even Maur undercut in the film by how the town essentially slut shames her and has oh yeah, fairly openly misogynistic attitude towards her up until the very end, when they say, Oh, what you mean her ex husband was lying about her? I never
like normally when you talk about trying to bring like representation of different groups into a story, if you are going to only have one member of a given group in the story that puts so much more burden on trying to have that person represent everything that the community that they are a part of is. And at the story stands. There are a lot of people who are theoretically practicing Christians in this movie, and so that part, like it's a kind of ish worked for me like there's like, Oh, there's the people who think it's this and there's the people who think it's this and there's the people who like on Lee come if they're anticipating drama and someone's gonna shame their enemy actor should then logo. But otherwise they're going to stay at work at the diner like, you know. But for Jesse, she's the only person in the entire movie who is not religious and also not the villain of the movie. I feel like in not letting there be any good people in the movie who are not religious and stay not religious the whole time it like, puts a lot more pressure on Jessie's conversion story like, How are you gonna make this genuine? How are you going to make this feel? Not like propaganda? And it didn't live up to that, Yeah, especially
because the film really makes a solid point various different angles that Jesse had bad parents. She had an absent father. She had a mother, didn't know how to raise her. And so there's almost this subtext that Jesse was this lost sheep. There's even a speech to this. I shouldn't even literally tax straight. So she was a lost sheep who was adopted by a good Christian family. Allah, her husband's mother and father. Um, and this is her real family, and this church is her real home, and this community is her real community, and we just need to show her that. And there is a world, as you say, where that could have worked if they were a little bit more generous to Jessie's origins, instead of sort of saying that Oh, well, she was lost from the flock, not because, you know she may be was not aware of Christian doctrine. Or maybe it was just not something She had come around to you, but it's like, well, as we know, she was bad. She was a bad seed, but we're we're converting her. And so now everything's gonna be fine.
Her speaking up in saying okay, but actually I have questions, works great as like the outsider coming in it works great ej shaking things up. It works great as showing that engagement is not necessarily obedience. There were many things I liked about it, but then they never show the answers. She literally asks, Do you think all other religions are wrong? And then they cut to the next scene like that would have been such an easy soft curveball? Answer to just be like we're not like we value all viewers, like even it. Justin. Probably from a commercial. Make your movies sell perspective like
Jeez, And like what? A romance it would have been if we had seen the pastor answering her questions as, like part of their romance, Right? Like that kind of theological conversation could have been part of the blossoming of their relationship, like, Whoa, that would have been dope. I didn't do that because propaganda. Unfortunately,
the romance is at its strongest point. When the story treats Jesse as unequal and as Cape there's that bit where because she keeps interrupting service, she basically gets banished to the Children's room like, literally infantilizing her Then. But then she leaves the rebel and they come back out and ask questions. And now all the kids are on her side and everyone's like, Okay, she's cool. And then there's never But then she's okay with that. She never says that wasn't cool, that you tried to send me off into another room and hush my questions like, and she just was, like, Accepts it as, Oh, yeah, it's okay for me to get shut off with the Children. That's fine. That's where I belong. And like, it comes so close, so many times to being about somebody wrestling with what they believe in what is expected of them, which I think could very well in a courtship and romance narrative have. What do you actually believe Should be in a relationship? And what are you okay having people expect of you? And what are you not okay? Having them expecting you? Yeah. And on the other
side of the courtship, it would have been really cool to see more of Ben because we find out much later, almost towards the end of the film that he'd been wearing his wedding ring the whole time is a tribute to his dead wife. And you kind of wish that at the same time as you're saying, he could have been struggling with his own sort of feel to you, to his marriage and to his wife and the complexities of that when you have really strong Christian faith. Yeah, that would have been so deep. And that is the kind of entangled romance were looking for.
Yes, I do. Like likes a strong word E. I think that the element of introducing the evil church lady like who's on the board and Lykken fire him like they play it a little bit too strong and a little bit too long. But that first element where it's like, Oh, this person can fire you from your job in disgrace if she does not wait in, like, completely take away your livelihood if she does not like how you were carrying out your reputation and personal relationships within the community, to me felt almost Jana Constant esque of like, Oh, this is a community where, you know, you could kind of start doing courtship narratives, that historical narrative of when reputation mattered in a different way than it matters now, Like I was like, Oh, that could be an interesting take on it and then they didn't really do a good enough job of explaining or convincing you why that mattered. And then also, even when they fire him, they don't really fire him. So that took away those steaks like it felt like this movie had actually really things to talk about. And then they took away all the stakes by having their either be no consequences or weirdly disproportionate consequences and then also gave it a bad soundtrack of, like, acoustic guitar music.
So, Kate, to wrap things up, What our main takeaways from in lawfully yours. What can we take away from this film that gives us so much Greek over what it could have been?
Okay, I think that one of the things that you have to be aware of when you're working with troops is both what people go to the troops for, cause you don't want to disappoint them like you don't want to not sell them the thing you want. Like if Jesse and Ben had, like, had sex on the first date like that would have violated the whole premise of this movie and would not have worked. But I also think, like at the same time, you have to understand like ways to account for the potential problems built into the tropes. And I think one of the problems of doing this type of, you know, Christian newcomer narrative, especially where the woman is the newcomer basically undermining your heroin like whenever you do a plot where it's like, Oh, the woman doesn't really know what she wants. Like at one point in the story, they're arguing over what's best for the mother in law. Just, he says, like we should listen to her, She says. She wants to leave. We should let her leave and he says it. Ben basically doesn't think they should listen to the mother in law. And of course, he ends up being right like he was right about this. The mother in law didn't really want to leave. She was being pressured. But that carries into this idea of this movie. Doesn't listen to Jessie, really. When she asks questions until it wants to play lip service to the idea of Oh, we like her cause. She raises questions and she introduces a question. Siri's at the start of the sermon in like the coming you know, epilogue of three years later. But even that the first question that someone asks is like a joke question about the cock crossword. So it's like we're really how much change did you actually make room for her to make like they aren't careful to make sure that it shows that your heroine is listened to and respected. And I think that if you were going to take a story in tow, an arena where in many communities women aren't listen Thio or necessarily respected in the way that all viewers would wish they were like, You just have to be very careful of it. And this movie isn't careful of it. They don't really listen to their heroin, and you know her characterization and the whole movie suffers for us.
I I'm very intrigued by what you said about allowing her thio ask questions and to take those questions seriously. And it makes me think that there's something here that we can take away from this film that is that say, like romance is sort of this dance of persuasion, and the more you allow the persuasion to run its course rather than to leave that horse to water at water, whether it wants to go or not, the better your ultimate relationship is going to be, whether that's a relationship between two people or that's a relationship between a person and there's their faith and their belief in something. So hey, look at that. This movie is garbage. But we found some good stuff. In that case, who on the show here we like to offer some antidotes to these Ah, these terrible movies sometimes terrible, sometimes profound. Oftentimes both. Kate, water your antidotes for in lawfully yours.
Okay, so it depends on what you went to this movie for. I don't have a perfect antidote that, you know, wraps up everything. I think my first recommendation is while you were sleeping with Sandra Bullock. It is the story of a woman who, because of romcom shenanigans, this man ends up in a coma, and everyone thinks she's engaged to She's not, but the family then like, welcomes her with open arms and then, like she falls for his brother. And meanwhile, everyone is like treating her like she's in this relationship with this guy, and they're like, so excited that she's going to join the family, and it's like her, like basically falling in love with family and then also on the side, his brother. And there's even a church scene where they, like, argue in the pews. Um, I think if you're going for that kind of warm family, it does have, like people who are religious in it. Although it isn't a story about religion, it's gorgeous and lovely, and I highly recommend it. And I think Okay, so there was this Amazon reviewer for unlawfully yours who, like gave movie five stars. They loved it, and it was because there was no nudity in it. But it was more interesting than Hallmark movies. And I thought, OK, that's fair. If you're looking for Rahm comes that are more interesting than Hallmark movies but also don't have nudity like you kind of limited, um so while you Were sleeping or While You're Worth Sleeping is a romcom with no nudity in it and also more interesting than a Hallmark movie. Oh, if you want more of the person coming into Newcomer coming into a town and like shaking things up aspect of it, I would either go for the girls, the Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society on Netflix. It's also an amazing book, Um, which has a woman coming into a town and kind of asking questions and poking around and shaking everything and also, you know, spoilers but leaving her flashy city boy fiance and falling for a man who's like humble country boy. And then the city version of that would be the butcher's wife, which has like structural problems in the endings. But like is a woman who can see the future and goes up against a therapist who has science on his side, and they both try and, like war over who gets to give advice in this small New York mayor?
My recommendation is a little bit off kilter, but I think it will scratch an itch for people who are looking for a story of a girl wrestling with. They've even in a subtle way. And that is Patti Smith's memoir, Just Kids, because it begins by showing you Patti Smith's early life as a teenager in a Jehovah's Witness community in Pennsylvania and her journey sort of away from that initial faith towards a more sort of spiritual life in the big city in New York. So she's instead of a big city girl going to the small town. She's small town girl, going to the big city and asking a lot of questions of the world and getting some damn answers in the form of her own art. And that is a big the antidote to me for some of the bad vibes I might have gotten from himself if I didn't enjoy watching it so much for this conversation. Well, you are the real frickin deal and thank you so much for coming on, bringing all of your expertise in the romcom genre and the romance novel genre to the show.
Thank you so much for having me lovely
speaking with you as always, and you as well do as well. Thank you for listening to the wrong calm killjoys podcast. If you liked this episode, make sure to follow us on Facebook and Instagram at Roll Call killjoys. And if you'd like to support us further, you could become a patron at patriotic dot com slash wrong Continental Joyce to gain access to exclusive bonus content. Our song is Lady slut, hitchhike love by the band, a giant dog, and the song you're listening to now is a cover one of my favorites, baby Love by Colin Langan Ists. Remember? Kill Joyce. Don't let anyone kill your joy. Not a romcom, Not me, not anyone. See you next time.