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Dear Hollywood, Please Stop Romanticizing Gaslighting

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UCF chapter.

We all live in this land of make-believe when watching TV shows and movies. It’s pretty common to get wrapped up in the drama and hypothetical situations encountered on screen. We look up to certain characters at a young age, maybe even identify with them, personality or look-wise. We want so badly to understand the world around us, and usually, this can be exemplified in Hollywood. I mean, who wouldn’t want to be like the celebrities in our favorite shows and movies? Unfortunately, more and more romantic tropes are bordering on gaslighting being accepted as the norm. Here are a few of the categories they fall under. 

The Girl changing her personality or looks for a guy

This ranges from the nerdy girl turning into someone with a complete makeover. Maybe she starts wearing contacts and dresses nicer than she did before (She’s All That). Maybe the girl who is rough around the edges but softens when she finds a boy who piques her interest (10 Things I Hate About You). Or my favorite, the good girl, changes her whole appearance to attract the bad boy (Grease).

The girl who falls for the bad boy

This cliche trope usually is shown more in TV shows. It also is more commonly on teen and young adult shows than more mature shows. We see this on Euphoria and Gossip Girl. We even get a little bit of this on One Tree Hill

The power struggle

Whether someone is the boss or is a competing, more successful business, the person with the “power” is the gaslighter. In You’ve Got Mail, Kathleen had no idea the guy she was talking to the whole time was her biggest book store competitor. He knew and had the upper hand. In A Simple Favor, Emily had more money and power over her husband Sean. He kept running back to her.

The One where he convinces her she’s crazy

Ross from Friends was commonly known to lie and make Rachel not feel validated in her own feelings. In 27 Dresses, Kevin thinks Jane is crazy for always being the bridesmaid, going to every wedding. 

It’s hard to distinguish between reality and make-believe, but it’s important to know this is not how someone should be treated and not take what happens on the big screen seriously. Gaslighting in Hollywood may make great entertainment and drama, but in real life, it can be seriously emotionally damaging and, in some situations, dangerous. Always remember to trust your gut and cut something off that feels even remotely emotionally damaging. 

Hannah enjoys romcoms, young adult fiction books, and binging Netflix shows. When she's not procrastinating, she finds herself writing stories as her dream is to become a published book author one day.