Michaeline: Villainous Love

Carol Kane gazing with a speculative look into a surprised Gene Wilder's eyes

Why should heroes have all the fun? Try out the scary side of romance with your villains! (Image via Wikimedia Commons)

The villain is the hero of his or her own story. It’s an interesting proposition, and I have to admit, the best villains have good reasons for doing what they do. A smart, strong villain makes Our Hero’s ultimate win a more worthy one.

So, if we have a strong, smart villain (with a fatal flaw, of course), why not expand the analogy out to his henchmen, or henchwomen, as it were? And if two characters happen to have a certain chemistry, a twisted but loving symmetry, why not give them a romance of their own?

I stumbled upon such a bad romance on YouTube this morning. I’ve never watched Rio 2 (or Rio 1, for that matter), but this song between Kristin Chenoweth and Jemaine Clement encapsulates a romance between two vibrant characters who happen to have big problems keeping them apart. Jemaine’s character Nigel is an evil cockatoo, and Kristin’s character Gabi is a poisonous tree frog. While Nigel is sleeping, Gabi sings of her impossible love for him in “Poisonous Love”. (YouTube link; lyrics. YouTube link; animation.)

As Shakespeare says, “The course of true love never did run smooth,” and that goes for couples with lots in common. These two meet in captivity, are of different species, and then there’s the poison thing – as the song says, if Gabi touches him for too long, he’ll croak like a frog. I adore a good unrequited love story, and the set-up here is beautiful. I love how the whole thing is shown and told in three and a half short minutes, too.

If you enjoyed that, you may also like Nigel singing “I Will Survive” with back-up vocals from Gabi. (I have to admit, I’ve adored Jemaine Clement ever since I discovered The Flight of the Conchords and got the TV series on DVD, and Kristin Chenoweth ever since I got the cast recording of Wicked. I don’t think the character of Nigel does justice to Jemaine’s talents, but Gabi is a wonderful vehicle for Kristin, who is so very, very good as conveying subtle shades of good and bad.)

Just as every villain has a fatal flaw, every villainous romance should also be flawed, as well. Even in these two short videos, one gets the feeling that Gabi isn’t in love with Nigel so much as she’s in love with the Idea of Nigel. And as for Nigel, one gets the feeling that he takes Gabi completely for granted. Perhaps there could be a My Fair Lady sort of “I’ve Grown Accustomed to Her Face” moment in their story when their basic conflict (the poison thing) is resolved, and Gabi decides she deserves someone who can see her. In cases like these, I prefer a Pygmalion ending, where the girl leaves the jerk hero, and goes off to open a flower shop with the cute guy who adores her.

I’ve read the Wikipedia page and the IMDb page for the movie, and I’m afraid the villains’ love story won’t have a satisfying comedic end, nor will wind up as a gorgeous, operatic tragedy. I suppose that would steal too much thunder from the real hero and heroine of the movie. But still, I’m intrigued – I think Jemaine and Kristin would make wonderful placeholders for a romantic story between two minor characters or even two villains. They help me remember that the villains are the heroes of their own story, and deserve the same kind of care and development as the main couple.

12 thoughts on “Michaeline: Villainous Love

  1. Speaking of villains who have their own love story, have you seen Galavant? It’s hilarious, plus a musical. Magdalena and Gaven, who usurp the throne, are a riot.

    • I am really, really sore about Galavant. It’s made in the UK, but for some idiotic reason not available here. We get most US series eventually, or at least on DVD, but not Galavant, and it sounds right up my street. Grrrr 😦

      • That is so cruel!! And what with the DVD regions being different, you are up a creek.

        Japan’s got a different DVD region, too, but if I buy a real cheapo DVD player, it’ll play DVDs from any country, so I can get British, US or Japanese DVDs. The biggest problem is that they are real cheapos, so I can play on buying a new machine about every two years — and I just pray that they don’t die with the precious DVD still stuck inside . . . . So generally speaking, my wait time is about a year from the time the series came out.

        Someday, they are going to figure out how to make the encoding super-cheap, and then I’ll be up that creek with a bunch of old DVDs that I can’t play unless I get some fancy system. Either that, or learn how to repair DVD players . . . .

        Oh goodness. It looks like time has passed me by, and they don’t offer Galavant in DVDs. Only Amazon Video.Wah!

        • Um, what I’m seeing so far on Google is some sort of scheme to rent DVDs via Netflix, but I’m not seeing anything to buy. The renting thing is only within the US, according to dvd.netflix.com.

          Well, I’ve still got four seasons of Parks & Recs to get through, and about the same of the Dick Van Dyke show, so maybe I’ll wait a little bit.

      • Jilly-when we are in Orlando, we should set aside some time for a Galavant viewing binge. There are only two seasons and the episodes are about 22 minutes each.

        Edited to add: Hopefully it will still be available on Netflix then.

      • I wonder if a) it’s on disc, and if so, b) could we watch it in Orlando? Or maybe another format. I’ll see if I can figure it out.

        Edited to add: Missed Elizabeth’s comment! OK, it’s a plan!

        • If you are taking a laptop with a disc drive or also pack an external disc drive, you could at least watch on a small screen. Most hotels do not have an easy or even possible way to connect your laptop to their TVs (so my techie husband has realized after years of lugging around cables with us on trips ‘just in case’).

          Also, Orlando – I’m so jealous! The RWA conference was just not in the cards for me this summer, with my daughter’s wedding coming in September, but I would so love to see all of you!!! I will be having a pity party for one that week.

  2. Pingback: Michaeline: Good Villains, Writing Craft and Mute – Eight Ladies Writing

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