The Marie Claire Conspiracy Theory
by Cecilia Rebecca Ziko
What if … the notorious Maura Kelly’s A Year of Living Flirtatiously is really a decoy blog whose actual purpose is to generate material for a romantic comedy about a naive, endearingly clueless single woman in New York who’s just trying to figure it all out?
A modern story of self-discovery in which the lead character faces constant rejection from potential soul mates (turns out “dating blogger” is a bit of a turnoff), an endless (but comical) struggle to understand and engage with popular culture — only to be met with confidence-shattering internet backlash. But! With the support of her professionally diverse group of friends, a handful of devoted commenters, and hundreds of encouraging tweets, she overcomes the haters and (fingers crossed) finds love.
The Lead Character
A lover of thick Russian novels, vintage bikes, indie rock, Fellini films, and the Brooklyn Bridge, she strikes a believable balance of smart and artsy — with a nod to traditionalism. A true romantic, her dating history includes visual artists, jazz musicians, and an exotic Scandinavian named after a Norse god.
Jonas Singer. The omnipresent ex-something-or-other whose sudden but civilized rejection haunts every future relationship. Played by James Franco (too obvious?).
Garrett, the Adorable Hairdresser. A voice of reason working in Chelsea who can improve flirting mojo with a simple blow-dry. Played Bryan Batt.
Mrs. Leopard. A friend from college and former New Yorker, she now lives down south with her husband and young daughter. Played by Reese Witherspoon? Maybe Katie Holmes?
The Adrenaline Junkie. A friend who’s a great storyteller with a fantastic sense of humor and perfect comic timing. Possibly played by Joseph Gordan-Levitt.
Disconcerting aspects of AYOLF that make perfect sense once put in the context of a feature-length romantic comedy scheduled for release in time for Valentine’s Day 2011:
1. Cliché or irrelevant content delivered in a contrived blog voice that almost encroaches on parody? Intentionally exaggerated to increase audience recognition and establish character growth.
2. Habit of awkwardly name-dropping brands, books, websites, bars, radio stations, and bagel places? Testing ground for potential onscreen product placement, cross-promotion, and filming locations.
3. Reader outrage and offense over the publication of controversial and insensitive viewpoints? Easily forgiven once the whole messy episode is revealed as a critical plot point intended to teach empathy.
4. Risk of alienating readers and jeopardizing the reputation of the parent print publication? Counteracted by the sporadic spikes in site traffic and the retroactively generated “buzz” for the yet-to-be announced movie.
Disclaimer: The best conspiracy theories are the crazy ones that can’t be bothered about fact checking, and even after they’re proven wrong still insist on asking “But what if…?!” This is one of those theories.
Cecilia Rebecca Ziko likes to make things. Mostly out of paper, but also on the computer. In November, she had a plan to pay her rent by selling hundreds and hundreds of hand cut paper snowflakes. It didn’t work out. Maybe next year.