But that’s not how the story goes

Yes, there’s no happy endings / Not here and not now / This tale is all sorrows and woes / You might dream that justice and peace win the day / But that’s not how the story goes.

— Netflix’s Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events

Warning: minor thematic spoilers for A Series of Unfortunate Events and bigger spoilers for A Fantastic Woman.

So, A Series of Unfortunate Events is hyperactive about warning you that this isn’t a story with a Hollywood ending.

If you are interested in stories with happy endings, you would be better off reading some other book. In this book, not only is there no happy ending, there is no happy beginning and very few happy things in the middle. This is because not very many happy things happened in the lives of the three Baudelaire youngsters. Violet, Klaus, and Sunny Baudelaire were intelligent children, and they were charming, and resourceful, and had pleasant facial features, but they were extremely unlucky, and most everything that happened to them was rife with misfortune, misery, and despair. I’m sorry to tell you this, but that is how the story goes.

And yet, somehow, in all of that, I was caught off-guard by the fact that the Baudelaires never get the things that they sought: guardians who protected them; people who believed them; justice for the things done to them. I kept imagining that after suffering for 13 books, they’d finally have a happy ending. Of course, nothing about the story encouraged me to believe it. But it still caught me unawares.

And I think I was thinking about that in the context of A Fantastic Woman. There came a point in the movie where I just wanted Marina to have a win. Her partner, Orlando, dies in the early part of the film and Orlando’s family, including his ex and adult son, are just awful in the way they treat Marina. And in the midst of that awfulness, I wanted Marina to just come out on top of one of those interactions.

There’s even a story thread, introduced quite early, about Orlando’s locker at his spa, and what he may have left there. At a crucial moment in the film, Marina buys a daypass to the spa and sneaks across from the women’s side to the men’s side to access the locker, and we start to anticipate what she might find there: holiday tickets? A will? Something that she can use to throw back into the face of the awful family members?

But no. That’s not how the story goes.

What Marina gets, instead, is a life of stoic responses to the casual cruelty of cis people. That’s just how the story goes.

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