When Alex and I first started dating, he realized that I had never seen…
Rosemary’s Baby. “What?” he said, his eyes wide. “It’s one of my favorite movies by a mile.” We watched it a couple weeks later — well, the first half at least (wink, wink). He said that he was revealing a style and sensibility he related to, almost as if I were reading part of his diary.
His must-watch list included The Shining and The Great Escape. “We watched The Great Escape in bed at our old apartment,” he reminisced on the phone today. “And ordered a pizza box full of cookies.”
Meanwhile, I showed him So I Married an Axe Murderer because my family quotes it all the time. Nowadays, I’d also share TV shows, like Fleabag, Insecure, Broad City, and This Way Up, since they help reveal what it’s like to be a woman. (Finally!)
Sharing a “movie syllabus” isn’t just for romantic partners. My friend Naudia, who watches The Lord of the Rings trilogy twice a year, indoctrinated her family, too: “When my sisters moved from Guyana to join me in America, I said, ‘You guys can’t be my sisters unless you watch this.’” Since Naudia loves nature, gardening and traveling, she sees herself reflected in the film. “My goal in my life is to find my Shire,” she says. “My boyfriend and I recently moved in together, and as a housewarming gift, he gave me a sign that says ‘Welcome to the Shire.'”
Movies can also reveal an idiosyncratic sense of humor. When Aaron, a comedy writer, met his now-wife Elizabeth, he showed her a bunch of funny films — including Johnny Dangerously and Caddyshack — so she’d get his jokes. “I wanted her to understand the little references I’m saying all the time,” he told me.
Before they had kids, they also watched National Lampoon’s Vacation. “The dad is trying to have a fun vacation but he gets maniacal,” Aaron explains. “It becomes a joyless quest for joy. To understand parenting, that’s so key. You have to have affection for the things that go wrong.”
But what if the list is intimidatingly long? “I’m in the the throes of a new relationship,” my friend C. told me. “I don’t really watch movies, and my boyfriend is always shocked when he finds out I haven’t seen something.” His hefty syllabus includes The Alpinist, Pulp Fiction and Unforgiven. “A hazard of meeting someone in middle age is that they’ve already seen too many movies to catch up.”
Overall, though, it’s just fun to share stuff you love, right? “None of them are homework,” says Aaron. “It’s not like, oh, this is going to be a grind.”
What movies do you show someone you’re newly dating? What are your three favorites?
P.S. The ultimate TV guide, and what comedy scenes do you love?
(Photo from Rosemary’s Baby.)