Most of the time we look at romantic comedy ladies with a sense of wistfulness and envy.
After all, they always have beautifully decorated apartments, bouncy hair that defies the laws of motion and a slew of handsome, available guys that seemingly sprout from the ground like weeds on an over-watered front lawn.
But recently I’ve also started to feel deeply sorry for this special breed of leading ladies, because every time they pop up on screen they immediately lose all control over their formerly perfectly functioning legs and fall to the floor faster than Amy Schumer encountering Kimye on the red carpet.
I couldn’t help but wonder, what was causing this special kind of paralysis? And don’t even try to blame it on their impractical footwear, because most of these falls cannot be traced back to an innocent pair of high heels.
Listen to Laura Brodnik and Amy Cooper explain the crazy reason why TV women can’t stop falling over while recapping The Wrong Girl finale.
In the Twilight films, Bella Swan faces off against immortal beings with super strength, yet cannot make the perilous journey from her front door to her car without falling over her own feet.
Drew Barrymore enters the high school in Never Been Kissed and immediately tumbles to the ground like she’s been taken out by a rogue sniper, despite the fact there are literally no obstacles in her path.
Laney Boggs of She’s All That lives through not one but TWO epic falls during her time on screen, just in case you missed the first one and need to be slapped in the face with it again.
Claire Dane’s character in the classic Christmas rom-com, The Family Stone, is a seasoned New Yorker who regularly travels to far off, exotic locations. Yet when we are first introduced to her she is foiled by a simple set of bus steps.
In Raising Helen we regularly see Kate Hudson’s character sprinting through the city or carving it up on the dance floor in footwear so unstable and spindly it looks like she’s wrapped her feet up in rotting spider webs.
Yet, it is not until Helen is exchanging cute banter with the handsome John Corbett that she grows tired of harnessing basic motor skills and plummets to the floor. All because those pesky things known as “legs” got in her way.
At first I thought the reason behind all these unexplained falls was a secret sub-plot that threaded through every rom-com in existence, where a forgotten sidekick secretly releases undetectable nerve gas into the air and renders our heroines legless (side note: Dear Hollywood, please make this movie).
But the reality is far more sinister than chick-flick fueled guerrilla warfare.
The reason rom-com ladies are always falling over their own feet is that they need a flaw, a flaw that doesn't disrupt their physical beauty but is also capable of eliciting sympathy from the audience and making them appear endlessly relatable.
It's a small, adorable fault that has no repercussions on anyone else in the plot, all so you can remain hopeful that they'll find love and laughter before you finish your popcorn.
The old on-screen 'trip-and-fall' is also a great way to meet a handsome stranger or have a handsome stranger catch you, thus racking up some damsel-in-distress points, without having to break the budget and spring for a dragon.
The truth is, falling over is never a fun time. It's painful, embarrassing and almost never leads to meeting a potential soulmate. Most of the time, you just end up with bruised elbows, frantically squatting in the middle of a busy road, trying to retrieve your scattered credit cards while an angry motorist honks at you like a goose with 'roid rage.
The last time I endured an epic stack was just after I walked out of a job interview at a fancy PR firm. I was wearing my trustiest pair of heels, but even their sturdy goodness could not save me from catapulting down a flight of concrete stairs after stepping on a rogue strawberry that some kind soul had left lying around.
I hit every stair on the way down, cutting my legs and arms open in the process and smashing the special pair of sunglasses I'd bought just for the big day.
The strawberry's attack left me bruised and bleeding, but since I knew the recruiters were watching me through the window, I had no choice but to pick my crumpled body up off the pavement and stumble, Quasimodo style, down the street and away from their view.
Eventually I found a dingy little park and sat on a bench to tend to my fruit-induced wounds.
The only first-aid equipment I was able to dig out of my purse was a receipt for the McDonald's hash-browns I'd purchased that morning, which kinda stopped the flow of blood from my knee but in reality just pushed the bacteria and dirt even further down into the wound. Just glorious.
Then, I looked up to see a tall, dark-haired guy standing in front of me. One who didn't seem at all disgusted by the fact I looked like I'd just lost a battle with an emotionally unstable street cat.
If that's not a soulmate, I don't know what is.
But before you can say "what would Katherine Heigl do?" he cleared his throat uncomfortably and informed me that the park was under construction and basically I needed to get my ass off that sad little bench and find somewhere else to slowly bleed to death.
That's what happens when you fall over.
Until recently, I thought this whole tumbling in movies cliche might be a thing of the past. That was until I watched The Wrong Girl and witnessed Jessica Marais' character Lily falling over her feet a minimum of three times in the first 30 seconds of the show.
Looks like female characters really haven't come all that far in the last few decades.
Their biggest flaw is still the fall. And that's enough to make me crumple to the ground.
Listen to Laura Brodnik and Rosie Waterland discuss the biggest and best TV moments of the week on The Binge.