‘After’: The Dangers of Lust and Idolized Fictional Romance

Should We Really Be Excited About After We Collided?

Tessa and Hardin’s relationship shouldn’t be admired as ideal love.

After follows college freshman Tessa Young (Josephine Langford) as she meets and is swept into a whirlwind of lust over tattooed British bad boy Hardin Scott (Hero Fiennes Tiffin). The film is adapted from Anna Todd’s enormously popular After series, based on her Harry Styles fan-fiction. The series has racked up 1.5 billion views on Wattpad and sold 15 million print copies. 

After masks the problematic dynamics of Tessa and Hardin’s relationship under a blanket of passion. They aren’t #relationshipgoals or #couplegoals, yet die-hard fans of the fiction are obsessed with the pair. 

Tessa and Hardin’s attraction to one another stems from the concept of “opposites attract.” This form of lust can be dangerous, as it’s idealized and can blind individuals to some obvious reasons they should not pursue a relationship with a potential partner. Many people are attracted to the “bad boy” in hopes of proving they can get the guy, play therapist, and mold them to their liking. Some simply love the extreme highs and lows of the relationship as if it’s a drug and they need their daily fix.  


Hardin has a lot of emotional baggage due to his upbringing with his father. If you’ve read the fan-fiction, you’ll recognize that his fluctuating emotions are going to be psychological torture and exhausting for Tessa. The film didn’t include all of the arguments the pair had in the Wattpad and novels, including Hardin wanting Tessa to stay away from basically everyone in her life and only sees him. He is often nasty and disrespectful towards her and admits that he’s “just an a**hole.” 

When you’re young and inexperienced in love, Hardin’s behavior is easily dismissable, as it’s viewed as him being emotional or even romantic because he wants Tessa all for himself. But that’s not the truth. A lover should never attempt to dictate their partner’s life. That’s obsessive, manipulation, controlling, and mental abuse – and it isn’t cute.

Hardin displays his emotions by breaking glass and punching walls. In the novel, Tessa describes one instance where she thinks Hardin will slap her. This behavior is dangerous, and its magnitude is unpredictable. If you’re in a relationship and fear your lover will hit you, you need to end that relationship for your safety and sanity. 

anna todd bbc

Anna Todd – Photo Credit: BBC

While writing After, Anna Todd told Refinery29 she was upset with how Hardin treated Tessa and didn’t want them together, “I was like, ‘He should just be alone forever and be miserable.’” Todd added, “I don’t know if I wanted them to end up together. I just wrote it, and they had to be.” 

Does the pair have to live happily ever after? No, but since this is fiction, fan service is required. The problem is, people invest in these characters as if they’re real and start to seek a Hardin of their own. Therein lies the danger of someone assuming the turmoil in their relationship is normal – because Tessa and Hardin went through the same thing.  

The one thing After gets right is that young love is complicated by naivety and driven by hormones. We can’t blame every bad decision on hormones, but they can contribute to illogical decisions that make you wonder what exactly you were thinking later.


Let’s not forget Tessa had a boyfriend named Noah. The writers made their relationship seem vanilla so fans could obsess over Tessa and Hardin getting together and dismiss the fact that Tessa cheated on Noah…TWICE. If things were reversed and Noah cheated on Tessa for a bad girl, would he be considered a jerk? If so, what does that make Tessa? Or did fans see Tessa leveling up so cheating on Noah wasn’t a big deal? This double standard is ideal for another discussion.

The sequel, After We Collided, will be released in 2020. If you haven’t read the fan-fiction, from the sound of the title, you know more drama is coming.

**A freelance movie review completed for Wishbone.**

Terminator: Dark Fate Review

***If you don’t want any spoilers, stop right here.***

When I first heard they were making another Terminator reboot, I knew it was unnecessary and I was right. Terminator: Genisys was a soft reboot, but Terminator: Dark Fate wiped out every Terminator film after Terminator 2: Judgement Day (T2).


I had no interest in seeing Terminator: Dark Fate, but someone asked me to check out to discuss a few things they were confused about. I had no expectations and low curiosity.


Within five minutes of the film, young John Connor (Edward Furlong) is killed by another T-800 (Arnold Schwarzenegger) sent after the events of Judgement Day causing everything after T2 be eliminated from the timeline. The character, that has been focal since the beginning, gets killed off in a nonsensical manner. If they stopped Skynet at the end of T2, why have a T-800 kill John? When was the T-800 sent? Was it around the same time as the T-1000? If so, was the T-800 waiting its turn? Skynet had to send that Terminator back RIGHT before it vanished from the future. It made no sense.

Sometime within the last 20 years after John’s death, Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) has been receiving mysterious text messages with dates, times, coordinates, and “For John.” These texts are warning her of terminators arriving in her present day. Sarah becomes a Terminator hunter and, as a result of those messages, becomes aware of a Terminator (Rev-9) arriving in Mexico, but nevermind how Sarah finds out everyone is on a freeway. This is what leads her to our new damsel in distress, Dani Ramos (Natalia Reyes). Sarah later discovers a woman named Grace (Mackenzie Davis), an augmented human soldier, sent from the future to protect Dani.


As they protect Dani, Grace uses future technology to decrypt Sarah’s mysterious text messages and discovers the same coordinates of the mystery texter was also tattooed on her side as a safe place to take Dani. Who were the messages coming from? The same T-800 who killed John 20 years ago.

After T-800 completed his mission, he had no purpose. He hung around humanity, learned, ended up in a relationship, and adopted a son. Through this family unit, he learned how much he devastated Sarah. After developing a conscience, he felt he owed Sarah by texting her anonymous information throughout the years.

The T-800, Sarah, Grace, and Dani all head out to fight Rev-9. We later discover Dani isn’t going to birth the next leader of the resistance, which Sarah assumed early in the film, she is the next leader. Grace volunteered to save Dani because Dani rescued and trained her in the future.

Skip to the end, Grace sacrifices her power core, remember she’s augmented, to be used as a weapon against the Rev-9. T-800 dies alongside Rev-9 while Sarah and Dani look on. In the end, Sarah is going to train Dani to prepare for the future.

I glossed over what Rev-9 can do and the fact that Skynet no longer exists because a new system called Legion is responsible for the next “Judgement Day” because it doesn’t matter.



Terminator: Dark Fate pulls the same elements from the first two films with a dash of elements from the other films in the franchise. Terminator: Dark Fate didn’t feel new or add any kind of refreshing feel to the franchise.

We don’t get enough character development of Dani or Grace to care about what happens to them. It seems as though Hamilton and Schwarzennegger were just there for nostalgic purposes resulting in me not caring about what happened to them. The fight scenes tried to seem intense, but they all fell flat.

There was no bond between Dani and Grace regardless of the backstory. They seemed like two strangers who decided to hang together for safety. Their connection pales in comparison to John and the T-800 in T2. It doesn’t even stand up to the eventual trust between Sarah and the T-800. Now that I think about it, you could eliminate Grace from the story and have Sarah rescue Dani from Rev-9. Sarah could have easily found out Dani was the “new John.”


Rev-9 didn’t have the same threatening demeanor as the previous Terminators. The T-1000 in T2 and T-X in Terminator: Rise of the Machines (T3) both created a sense of danger for the characters. Rev-9 didn’t bring a sense of fear causing me to not be concerned about what would happen to the characters.

If I wanted to be extra picky, they could have kept T3 in the timeline. At the end of that film, Skynet still activated regardless of what happened in T2. Since John gets killed in Terminator: Dark Fate, Dani could have been the new leader of the resistance against Skynet. There was no need to introduce Legion, a new artificial intelligence, without telling us how it came about and why it decided to destroy the world, but James Cameron wants us to forget about everything that happened after T2.

Political Correctness

There’s a forced women empowerment movement going on in Hollywood. Don’t get me wrong, as a woman, I’m all for strong women in films, but when it seems forced/unnatural, it becomes obvious as to what the film is trying to do.

Not only did they kill the “male savior” at the beginning, they also reduced Schwarzennegger’s role, in his own franchise, to a cameo. It takes about an hour before the T-800 appears.

It seems as though women’s empowerment is displayed as being masculine and showing any form of feminity is frowned upon. It’s OK for a strong ass-kicking woman to display femininity. A strong woman doesn’t mean her feminine qualities need to be stripped to a masculine archetype.  Not sure if Cameron thought this was an upgrade, but he did a better job of women empowerment with Sarah in the first two films.

Terminator: Dark Fate is a film filled with recycled material from other Terminator films, but the previous films did it better. Hopefully, this will be the last of the Terminator films because this franchise should have been terminated a long time ago.