Last night my mom and I watched the 1995 rom com While You Were Sleeping and…. well, let’s just say it was not for us. (My mom, every 15 fifteen minutes: This makes no sense.) What we disliked the most about it–and there is a list–is its premise. None of the film would have been necessary–and that would have been a good thing–if Sandra Bullock’s Lucy had just said, with her famous I really just want to be loved smile, “Sorry, there’s been a big misunderstanding.”

 

I have never been a big fan of the Big Mis but, as I’ve gotten older and aware that my time is fleeting, I’ve developed a low tolerance for Big Misunderstandings in fiction. Often, they are morally iffy at worst and unnecessary at best. (This is not the first time we’ve complained about the Big Mis at AAR.)

The Big Mis doesn’t ruin a book for me and there are novels where the plotline–often written with darkness–works for me (Courtney Milan’s Unveiled and Amanda Weaver’s A Duchess in Name come to mind.) But when it’s played as a great joke, even as lives are remade, it angers me. Telling the truth is often difficult but it is the only foundation for real intimacy. Characters who lie to get what they want, even if they are as adorable as incomprehensibly all alone Lucy, are building a relationship on a deliberate falsehood. It’s not a stretch to say While You Were Sleeping revels in its only in the movies is this funny gaslighting. It’s icky.

Many disagree with me both about While You Were Sleeping and plots with a Big Mis. Do you? And if you love (or loathe) Big Mis plots, what are your favorites or most reviled?