I promised I would avoid talking about Miraculous: The Tales of Ladybug and Cat Noir several months ago. But I have to break that commitment in this article. I recently discovered that a 1998 movie entitled You’ve Got Mail has an incredibly satisfying template for how to solve the love square at the heart of Miraculous.
The main frustration with the show is that the two leads are in love, but they don’t know it because they each love a different side of the other. They’re stuck in a perpetual holding pattern as they fly in circles around each other. A two-hour movie doesn’t have the luxury of allowing that to drag on for more than 100 episodes. It has to get down to business fairly fast. So I’d like to present how You’ve Got Mail accomplished the impressive feat of getting its two romantic lead characters to fall for each other’s public and secret sides.
From the very start of the movie, the two leads treat their online relationship like some sort of forbidden love. They wait until everyone else is far away before they indulge in their Internet conversation. Joe Fox is a third-generation international bookstore mogul, while Kathleen Kelly inherited a single small bookshop that’s been around for generations.
Joe is in it for the money, but Kathleen is in it for the community. They seem wholly incompatible at first. Little do they know that they are actually in love with each other in their online alter egos. It seems like an insurmountable barrier to overcome. Until something changes.
Hurting the One You Love
Joe hurts Kathleen in the most deeply painful way possible to her. He takes away her bookshop. He opens a giant bookstore across the street from her little one and steals all her business. It’s nothing personal to him; it’s just another bookstore launch. But it’s completely personal to her. That bookshop is her life. But she sees the writing on the wall as her monthly sales dwindle. So she closes her bookshop and struggles to carry on with her life.
In the midst of this destruction, an interesting shift happens. They’re rivals, and something has to happen to break through their stagnation and frustration with each other. That occurs when Joe discovers that she is the one he’s in love with online. She remains unaware of that fact, so it’s very one-sided. But it leads to wonderful results.
Joe and Kathleen start the film in respective relationships that aren’t good for them. Joe is dating a woman he doesn’t really love, and Kathleen lives with a man who doesn’t really love her. Thankfully, they realize their relationships aren’t working, and they split up.
Not long after the destruction of everything Kathleen loves, she is perplexed when she finds Joe being exceedingly kind to her. He has a major change of heart concerning her. Because he knows that she’s in love with him, even though she absolutely hates him. So he goes about rectifying that situation by becoming her friend in real life. They spend time together, eat together, and just get to know each other on a deep level.
Recognizing True Love
When it comes time to reveal his true identity to Kathleen, Joe is fearful at first. What if she can’t forgive him for taking away her bookshop? What if her hatred outweighs the love he’s cultivated for months? Despite his fears, he bravely tells her the truth, and how does she respond? In the best way possible. She admits she’s glad it’s him! She’s fallen completely in love with him in spite of his flaws.
It was the hardest thing in the world for these two to fall in love with each other. They were both prideful, egotistical in some ways, unforgiving, and competitive. But they also have soft hearts. They just had to learn to break through their hard exteriors to reach those gentle cores.
How to Resolve a Love Square
In Miraculous, it isn’t quite so simple to solve the love square. Not only do Ladybug and Cat Noir need to connect with each one’s other half, but they also have to grapple with the fact that they’re ignorant about the true identity of the main villain. That’s a major monkey wrench that keeps sabotaging every attempt at revealing their identities to each other.
But I don’t really care about that. Nor do I think most fans do. My main desire from the show is to see the heroes happy, not the villain defeated. Ladybug needs to let down her guard to Cat Noir, and Adrien needs to open up fully to Marinette. They have to become friends first in every iteration of their relationship. They can’t just love one side of each other and expect things to work out when they discover that they have a whole different side they’d never appreciated before.
Basically, I want them to be more like Joe and Kathleen. Neither one has hurt the other in as deeply personal a way as Joe hurt Kathleen, though Ladybug has come close by making Cat Noir feel unimportant in season 4. They need to forgive each other for their mistakes and have serious discussions about their feelings. Only then can they resolve the central conflict of the show, which is how they feel about each other.
As Mrs. Potts would say, these things take time. I don’t expect these characters to untangle their emotions in a single episode. But I’d really like to see them head in that direction. Otherwise, what’s the point? I don’t know if they need to figure out that the main villain is Adrien’s father, or if they need to become so close that they can face any dark revelation together. Maybe one needs to find out the identity of the other and take things slow like Joe did. Because rushing things keeps leading to disaster.
If anyone else is suffering from a major bout of disappointment in a kids show, I recommend checking out You’ve Got Mail. It’s a surprisingly great romantic comedy that manages to resolve its love square in the most satisfying way imaginable. I absolutely love it. And I think you will, too.
This is the Deja Reviewer bidding you farewell until we meet again.
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If you’d like to support the Deja Reviewer, please consider donating a few dollars to keep this site going strong. I’ll even send you an original joke if you do! Try it, and prepare to enjoy a good chuckle.