The ratio, any single woman in New York will tell you, is off. There are just too many women vying for too few men. The competition is stiff. But where did all of these beautiful, driven single women come from? And why are they taking over New York?
From An Affair to Remember to - you guessed it - Sex and the City, these big-screen rom-coms convinced young American women that New York would provide them with a Mr. Big in shining armor. High-grossing blockbusters promise the gorgeous, cinematic New York where women can have it all - the glamorous career, the fantasy social life, and a handsome husband to sweep them off their pedicured feet. In pursuit of Meg Ryan dreams, the women flooded in over the bridges and through the tunnels, paying steep broker's fees and snatching up great apartments along the way.
Let's take a look at the evidence through the years, in a productive series of video clips and finger-pointing.
An Affair to Remember (1957)
A beautiful painter falls hard for Cary Grant. They agree to leave their current relationships and meet on top of the Empire State Building. After a tragic accident lands her in a wheelchair, she decides to save face and avoid meeting her dreamboat. Nothing can stop Cary Grant. He tracks her down through one of her paintings, and he still loves her! The ridiculous lesson? New York men are honest, loyal, and will love you no matter what. Uh, just in case, I would sign a pre-nup.
West Side Story (1961)
A musical, multicultural Romeo and Juliet set in Manhattan complete with guns, gangs and glory? Yeah, I would say that's a pretty accurate representation of New York. Most of us start singing and dancing when we get angry or fall in love. Sure, it ends with violence and tragedy. But West Side Story clocks in at over two and a half hours, and most of us don't make it through the credits.
Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961)
Audrey Hepburn as Holly Golightly succeeds in ruining fashion, romance and the city for the average American woman. Who cares if she's a paid escort! Who cares if she was arrested! She's a role model for any aspiring Ashley Dupre. And I can't confirm this, but I'm pretty sure Audrey started the cat-lady trend.
Annie Hall (1977)
Is there anything more charming than witty banter and falling hopelessly in love with a nervous, balding writer? Not if you look great in menswear-inspired knits, come from old-money, and have a fear of lobsters mauling you to death in your kitchen.
When Harry Met Sally (1989)
Smart, sarcastic man befriends weird blond woman. Except, because Meg Ryan is so charming, he finds all of her eccentricities to be adorable and quirky! He tells her that men and women can never be friends - they can be lovers or nothing else. Then they have sex and, as promised, he never calls. The end. Wait, actually, he ends up chasing her down on New Year's Eve in what is either an incredibly romantic epiphany or the realization that he's short, going bald and will probably die alone. Either way, you can blame Billy Crystal for making New Year's Eve the most expensive and awful night to go out in Manhattan.
Sleepless in Seattle (1993)
The bulk of this movie doesn't even take place in New York, but it's really not worth watching until the finale. Of course, Meg Ryan is charming and quirky! And even though she's been stalking him for some time, Tom Hanks falls in love with her the moment he meets her at the top of the Empire State Building. Yes, just like An Affair to Remember - New Yorkers are so self-referential that we actually consider this romantic.
You've Got Mail (1998)
A rich trust-fund guy runs a sweet Upper West Side children's bookstore owner out of business. But it's okay, because they fall in love over the Internet and she's pretty cool staying home working on her "novel" and redecorating. Did we mention that they're Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan, who is really adorable and quirky? It's a true uptown romance.
The Craigslist missed connections of movies, Serendipity plays with the idea of destiny. The city - and, from what I'm told, an order of overpriced ice cream - eventually brings John Cusack and Kate Beckinsale together. You see, New York works in mysterious ways. For example, to get what one wants, one must either be extraordinarily attractive, or have a history starring in a series of cult '80s movies.
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
Some New Yorkers fall in love in the Hamptons and have their brains fucked with. I don't really know anything about that, but I do know that the rates of my usual Montauk summer rental skyrocketed.
Sex and the City (1998-2004, 2008, 2010)
Not only does Sarah Jessica Parker manage to afford a massive one-bedroom, a closet full of designer clothes, and a lavish lifestyle - she does it all on the salary of a weekly newspaper columnist. Of course, she eventually ends up with the man and the closet of her dreams, an international book deal, a perfect body without one mention of a gym membership, and - most implausibly - the respect and adoration of her girlfriends, none of whom resents her charmed, self-narrated life.
When it comes to delusional New York romance, there are too many movies to count. The Apartment, 27 Dresses, Picture Perfect, 13 Going on 30, Ghost, The Object of My Affection, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, Hitch, Bride Wars, Music and Lyrics, Definitely, Maybe, Moonstruck, and thousands of other movies depict New York as the breeding ground of true love.
I think it's time to make Tulsa or Dallas the center of American can-do romance. Let's bring star-crossed lovers together in Cleveland. Anywhere is better than shooting more movies on top of the Empire State Building and creating even more traffic in Midtown.
We'll even out that ratio of women to men and lower rent prices while we're at it.
Lindsay Kaplan is a social and emerging media expert based in New York. She is a columnist at The Gloss, a regular talking head on the TV Guide Network, and a single malt scotch enthusiast at the bar. For more irreverent insights, follow Lindsay on Twitter: @lindsaykap