Harlequin has a reputation for being melodramatic and instilling women with unrealistic expectations about relationships. However you might feel about this romance novel publishing company, you can’t say that they don’t know how to laugh at themselves.
They’ve recently come out with two new online commercials for their subscription service entitled, “Make a Date With Harlequin.” They feature regular women going on dates with archetypal romance novel heroes, like Vikings and cowboys.
And they’re hilarious.
When we first found these, we knew we wanted to post about them on It’s No Citizen Kane, but we weren’t sure how to go about it.
So, we tried something a little different.
We wrote down our commentary as we watched the video so you could read it as you watched along:
(0:01) Rachel: He is the largest man I’ve ever seen.
(0:03) Rachel: Did she open the door for him?
(0:06) Jen: I love the idea that they are taking shelter from the cold in a bowling alley.
(0:09) Rachel: Even with how large he is, it still doesn’t look that comfortable to be carried that way.
(0:13) Jen: His hair is made of dreams.
Rachel: So angst.
(0:21) Rachel: HIS SHOES ARE SO BIG!!
(0:28) Jen: Foot fetish????
(0:33) Rachel: Grosssssssss.
(0:36) Rachel: How many of these people do you think realize this is a joke?
(0:39) Jen: He really is so large, though.
(0:43) Rachel: Romance novel cover pose.
Jen: Headcannon: he is an alien.
(0:45) Jen: Same, lady.
(0:57) Rachel: His only emotions are angst and passion.
(1:01) Jen: I also love the idea that they literally only played one ball before running off to do the naughty.
(1:10) Jen: That poor, poor bowling alley worker. He’s just trying to make it through his work day.
(1:13) Rachel: My favorite thing is that he celebrated his strike by grabbing her up and making out with her, only to carry her off to ecstasy.
Rachel: What’s the story here? Do you think he’s an actual Viking, or just a guy with a weird fashion sense? Is this a time travel romance? How did they meet? When did they meet?!
Jen: Whatever it is, I’d read this book. With her as the heroine? And her running commentary? Sign me up… Do you think “I should go” is the only thing he can say?
Rachel: Well, his only two emotions are angst and passion, so probably. His body does the rest of the talking.
There you have it! We hope you enjoyed this!
Harlequin isn’t exactly the company you’d expect to make fun of itself.
Many people see romance novels as something its readers take extremely seriously. They might picture a woman glued to the pages of Fifty Shades of Grey, struggling to contain her inner passions as she reads of Christian’s domination of Ana.
In reality, romance readers are sitting on their beds, eating cereal and laughing at the ridiculous and yet remarkably creative uses of words like “red-hot poker.” Sometimes romance novels are really ridiculous, and their readers know that. So does Harlequin.
These commercials demonstrate the publisher’s self-awareness. The “heroines” depicted in the videos are real life women—just like Harlequin’s readers. Rather than plucking both characters straight out of a Julia Quinn novel, Harlequin spends a minute and a half celebrating the relationship their readers have with their books.
Harlequin’s readers might go gaga over the impossibly large, hyper-masculine and utterly brutish heroes in its novels, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t see how ridiculous they are. Even the heroine in this commercial recognizes that her hero is a bit of a lug… even if she still finds him super, super sexy.
As we like to say, people need to give women more credit.
We can’t get enough of the humor in these videos. The over-the-top heroes, the enthusiastic women, the shots of innocent bystanders looking on…
These videos are a stroke of marketing genius, and we seriously hope they make more of them.
Please let us know if we should do more of these!