This actor I really like and follow avidly says he doesn't understand why anyone would watch police procedurals- they're predictable and always catch the bad guy in the end. Okay, I don't dispute that. But that's not why I watch his series or a couple of other ones I try to catch here and there- it's not about the who done it but the journey the characters take along the way in that 42 minutes. I'm invested in the characters- who they are and what's behind them. That's what the real stories are for me. It has always been about character for me.
It's the same with romance stories. The formula in the end is the same- girl gets guy or guy gets girl (or in my case, guy gets guy!). It's the rule there has to be a happy ending. They are escapism, that's all, pure and simple. But it's not the fact that in the end the two lovers pull it off (or get it off depending on your frame of mind) but the journey that we came along on to see them to that point. Again, it's that investment in the characters, what they do, what draws me that I'm interested in. Not that they fall in each others arms and live happily ever after.
Take Eve and Roarke in JD Robb's futuristic murder mysteries. I know Eve will get her killer in the end- we all do. You don't even have to read the books to know that. That's not why I read them, or look forward to the next one. I read them because I'm sucked into the universe Robb's created and I'm invested in her characters. She's made me do that. I want to know what's happening there. The murder mystery and how Eve and everyone around her solve it is just one element of the fun.
You take a trip, you know how it's going to end, right? You plan it, you go on it, you come home. End of story, right? So why go? We know how it ends every time, so where's the fun? I think we all know the answer to that.
It has never been about the destination, but rather how we got there and what we did in the first place. Be it the twist and turns, partners that snark at each other, or characters so damaged you can't imagine they could ever find happiness again, that's what I'm buying into. Okay, that and some really beautiful travel porn and eye candy in the case of my Monday nights. (Because sometimes being shallow for one hour a week is okay too.)