Why Harry & Karen's 'Love Actually' Storyline Is More Depressing Than You Thought
It's the most wonderful time of the year... to get all depressed over fictional characters in Christmas movies. Obviously, the holiday movie in question here is Love Actually , because what other Christmas film could reduce you to tears over a decade since its release in 2003? While Love Actually is, at its core, a rather uplifting holiday film, most of us still can't get over the storyline between married couple Harry and Karen. The film starts with the two as happily wed as can be, until Harry and his secretary start a flirtation that eventually leads to an affair. Karen finds out about Harry's tryst, and Harry seemingly leaves the family for a bit, only for the couple to reunite at the airport at the end of the film. The conclusion of their story is certainly ambiguous, and now, 12 years later, audiences have the answer they have been looking for — and it's so much more depressing than we could have anticipated.
According to script editor Emma Freud, who is the partner of Love Actually writer/director Richard Curtis, Harry and Karen don't breakup or get divorced after Harry's infidelity was discovered. Instead, they stay together — but tragically, their once happy relationship has been changed forever:
Seriously, Love Actually? That's what we're left with? Frankly, that's the most depressing option for Harry and Karen — and, yes, them breaking up is an option.
Why is this so freakin' sad? Well, for one thing, Karen did absolutely nothing wrong in this situation. Karen was just going about her life as a loving wife and mother, listening to her Joni Mitchell records, and thinking her holidays were going pretty well. Then, she found that stupid, tacky necklace for Harry's secretary, and her life basically blew up in the span of 10 seconds. She even put on a brave face for the kids on Christmas when, secretly, she was totally falling apart. I'm totally Team Karen, which is why it's devastating that she's the one who has to sacrifice her own happiness here.
Truth be told, Harry got a pretty sweet deal out of this whole "affair" thing. He got to have his cake and eat it, too. His wife forgave him (well, mostly) and he still got to see what it was like to explore options outside of his marriage. I have little doubt that Harry will be as happy as he always was down the line. As for Karen, well, her view of her husband has changed forever. That sucks.
What would a happier ending have been for Karen? I say, leave Harry! Go snuggle up with poor, sad Daniel, who a sharp-eyed fan at Buzzfeed suggests may have been in love with Karen the entire time. Harry will be fine, but Karen needs to channel her inner Mitchell and find true happiness — not this "less happy" stuff that we're supposed to settle with. Because, actually, that's just too depressing for words.
Images: Universal Pictures; Giphy