Cute or Problematic? Netflix’s Purple Hearts
Social Media Editor
For a generation ruled by the desire for independence and free will, the “marriage of convenience” fictional trope in entertainment media is extremely popular. This trope presents two individuals who are usually not keen on the other but decide to enter marriage for personal benefit, not commitment and love. But by the end of the story, they end up falling in love and gaining mutual respect. Netflix’s new movie, Purple Hearts, which is based on the novel by Tess Wakefield, features this cliche. Though it had the potential to touch on vital issues while displaying a delightful love story, it ultimately fails to do the former.
The main character of this film, Cassie Salazar, is a bartender and a singer/songwriter struggling to live her day-to-day life trying to afford medicine for her type 1 diabetes. Luke Morrow is a Marine in training who was a former drug addict and now owes $15,000 to his dealer. Luke meets Cassie a week for the first time before he leaves for Iraq at the bar she works at, but they almost immediately start arguing during the first conversation. However, after Cassie finds out that military spouses can get health insurance, she and Luke enter a fraudulent marriage, as Luke would also get enough compensation to pay his debts gradually. The story revolves around the two characters’ journey to protect their sham marriage, so they don’t get caught since military law considers their arrangement a crime.
Although Purple Hearts had a compelling storyline, it fell short in appealing to a broader audience. The movie has taken up social media platforms like Tik Tok by storm, with many viewers praising the film. However, many others have called out the apparent problematic message. For instance, one of Luke’s marine friends, Armando, toasts their upcoming draft to Iraq and says, “This one is to life, love and hunting down from goddamn Arabs, baby!” Cassie expresses her distaste towards this remark, but Luke commands her to sit down, essentially letting his friend off the hook for alluding to wiping out an entire ethnic group. Armando’s racist rhetoric is not uncommon for many Americans who call themselves “patriots,” but what was unsettling to viewers was how quickly this incident was overlooked in the movie. Cassie is later shown being friendly toward Armando, and no character development on Armando’s part was demonstrated either.
At the start of the story, Cassie’s character is politically liberal and upfront about her opinions and perspective. However, towards the end of the film, it felt she had somewhat abandoned her views for Luke, who was now her lover.
Purple Hearts had the potential to have the range to speak on prevalent issues such as medical inaccessibility and the toxic military complex. It could’ve also served as an example to illustrate communal bipartisanship, but it did not fall through. The story itself felt incomplete for a film with such a heavy political component. However, the romantic element carried the plot, and that is likely why it has been holding the Netflix top spot.