The lead couple kiss in Purple Hearts, a bad enemies to lovers movie with a conservative marina faking a marriage to a liberal latina songwriter
Netflix

Netflix’s ‘Purple Hearts’ Is How NOT To Do Enemies to Lovers

Unfortunately, love does not always conquer all.

Enemies to Lovers is a somewhat controversial romance trope that can go very wrong when done incorrectly. And unfortunately, Netflix’s Purple Hearts does it so wrong.

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Fake Relationships

The basic premise is that a Latina liberal songwriter/waitress with diabetes, Cassie, (fake) marries a conservative former-addict Marine, Luke, to get health insurance and general military benefits. Because it’s not enough to ruin one romance trope, no, we’re going for a full Bingo card.

The military connection is also meant to add stakes and motivation, but in doing so it just highlights how fucked poor Americans are if they have to resort to defrauding the government to get access to necessary medications.

All of this is made worse by the fact that there was a better plot hinted at with Cassie, the female lead, originally asking her childhood friend Frankie to marry her instead. That would’ve been a Friends-to-Lovers romance I could get behind. Instead, Frankie is revealed to already have a girlfriend he plans on proposing to and dies overseas, robbing us of an actually healthy romance.

Change

One of the sweet aspects of Enemies to Lovers is how love changes both characters. Ideally, an Enemies-to-Lovers romance isn’t about one partner “fixing” the other, but about the two of them becoming better people through understanding each other.

Unfortunately, a majority of the change in this couple is Cassie becoming a military wife, using her songwriting to write pro-military songs that help sell the fake relationship and jumpstart her career. The movie almost treats Cassie as wrong for critiquing the military in any capacity and doesn’t critique Cassie’s hypocrisy for basically “selling out” and financially benefitting through compromising her morals.

Luke’s arc is all over the place as he deals with continuing to carry trauma from his mother’s death, living up to his career military father, his drug dealer still hounding him for paid debts, and a host of other things to seem there just to add drama without actually interrogating Luke’s character. His big act of true love is taking all the credit for their marriage scam and ultimately going to jail for it, which would be a sweet gesture if it weren’t for the fact that it was his fault they got revealed in the first place.

Bigotry

This movie seems to go out of its way to not address the bigotry issue. Even more bizarrely, they don’t try to downplay the bigotry, either. One of the men in Luke’s unit outright celebrates “hunting down some goddamn A-rabs” at their wedding dinner and Luke just brushes it off as pre-deployment nerves. Uh, dude, you both signed up for this. You literally do not get to write racism off as just the stress of invading someone else’s country when you had a choice to be enlisted. Even worse, that guy never gets brought up again and never gets any kind of comeuppance as far as we can tell; he was likely there to show how Luke isn’t as bad as some military guys, but his ability to brush off talk like that is not a credit to him.

What’s the point?

We’re supposed to see this as some celebration of how different people can come together, but honestly, people can interact with people they hate respectfully. That doesn’t mean they actually respect them; it just means they consider you to be an exception.

What sucks the most is that it feels like this mindset is so relevant in today’s world. Many conservative representatives who were in interracial marriages or had biracial grandchildren voted against the “Respect for Marriage Act” because they believe they can separate love and politics. As much as we want to believe, love does not necessarily conquer hate.

I remember the 2016 memes of how “liberal women will quietly undo their conservative husbands’ votes.” Fuck that. It’s 2022, and quietly allowing conservative men to get away with BS only serves to help them.

If you have time, Amanda the Jedi and Kennie J.D. go even more in depth into their breakdowns and analysis of the movie and the general issue with the politics at play, so give their videos a look.


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Author
Kimberly Terasaki
Kimberly Terasaki is a contributing writer for The Mary Sue. She has been writing articles for them since 2018, going on 5 years of working with this amazing team. Her interests include Star Wars, Marvel, DC, Horror, intersectional feminism, and fanfiction; some are interests she has held for decades, while others are more recent hobbies. She liked Ahsoka Tano before it was cool, will fight you about Rey being a “Mary Sue,” and is a Kamala Khan stan.