Enthymeme: You will need to make a Claim in response to the prompt and provide at least two (2) Reasons to support that claim.

Requirements:  These requirements must be met no matter which option you choose.

  • 6-8 pages (approx. 1500-2000 words)
  • Enthymeme: You will need to make a Claim in response to the prompt and provide at least two (2) Reasons to support that claim.
  • You will also need to provide Grounds (evidence) to support your reasons.
    • Given the required pop culture theme, you should incorporate examples from at least one (1) pop culture text.  (the movie “Failure to Launch” with Matthew MaConaughy and Sarah Jessica Parkder)
    • You will also need to conduct additional research and include at least four (4) secondary sources that can help you support your argument. You are welcome to draw on the sources you discussed in previous essay assignments. (see Works Cited for other sources)
    • You will need to address at least one (1) Warrant underlying your argument and provide Backing to justify your approach.

You will need to respond to your skeptical audience by including and rebutting at least one (1) counterargument. (This counterargument may be connected to the warrant you are addressing.)




I. INTRODUCTION (two paragraphs)


Put this statistic somewhere: “In the United States, researchers estimate that 40%–50% of all first marriages, and 60% of second marriages, will end in divorce” (Hawkins, 41)


First Paragraph: Capture the attention of the audience by detailing the opening scenes of “Failure to Launch” from the dinner scene to the sex scene:

The opening scene depicts a couple in a restaurant.  The woman is expressing her “closeness” to the man and she points out an elderly couple that is “still so in love.”  The male demonstrates hesitation for some reason but he invites the female to his home.  The next scene shows the two of them in the midst of a sex scene, in his bedroom, that is interrupted by the man’s father.  After this interruption the father leaves and the woman says, “You live with your parents?” to which boyfriend replies, “is that a problem?”  The woman then storms out of the home, ending the relationship.


Second Paragraph: state enthymeme (make claim and list reasons) then introduce the paper, setting up for the first section:

Enthymeme/Thesis: The depiction of romantic relationships in movies (films) and television shows causes divorces in America by (a) showing unrealistically ideal and happy relationships, (b) overlooking confrontations such as deceit and arguments, (c) focusing on short-term, emotionally-charged connections such as sex, and (d) unrealistic time-frames for the relationships followed by ‘happily-ever-afters.’


II. FIRST SECTIONSex: short-term, emotionally charged connections(a few paragraphs)

Talk about how sex is the focus of relationships when people meet in movies.  Use the quote from the movie: “Look, I’ve had a lot of girlfriends, right? And sometimes I’m the rebound-guy.  Other times, when I get lucky, I’m the explore-new-areas-of-your-sexuality-guy; but every single time we have fun…I have fun they have fun.  It’s good for me, it’s good for them—and I would argue that it’s damn good for civilization as a whole” (Failure).  Talk about how sex is the focus and once the woman starts to get serious,with MaConaughy’s character, and gives him “the look” it’s time to “meet the parents” which will drive her away so he can move on to the next woman (Failure).

After introducing sex as the topic and using the film; incorporate expert sources and talk about how sexual spark doesn’t last in a real relationship…one cause of divorce or bad marriages…

Lisa Firestone, Ph.D., psychologist says: “The state of physical closeness and emotional distance is what characterizes a fantasy bond. This bond is formed when sincere feelings of love, respect and attraction are replaced with imaginings of security, connectedness and protection. Though these may all seem like positive attributes of an intimate relationship, placing a priority on form over substance is a key destroyer of any close relationship” (Firestone).

Also, from the book “Should I Keep Trying to Work it Out” by Hawkins and Fackrell, both Ph.D.’s, the fact that premarital cohabitation leads to divorce: “Couples who live together before marriage appear
to have a much higher chance of divorce if they marry.However, this risk is mostly for those who live together with more than one partner” (Hawkins, 43).  Both premarital sex and cohabitation are shown in this and other movies/TV shows.  They are both excessively common.



III. SECOND SECTIONLying:overlooking deceit/fights and lack of communication (a few paragraphs)

Continue the summary of the movie.  This couple (MaConaughy and Parker) have a relationship based on a lie.  The parents hire Parker to date MaConaughy and get him to move out, etc.  In the end, they simply overlook the fact that she lied to him the whole time and that he only wanted her for sex and fun dates, etc. with no intent for commitment.  He makes her think he owns a yacht, but gets caught in that lie, and it is no big deal.  In the end, they live happily ever after.  Furthermore, both of the other two men, his friends, find their perfect little partners.

Often movies depict this fight and make-up stuff, but they almost always end in happily-ever-after, not divorced or separated.

Lack of communication is listed as the number one cause for divorce by lawyer and partner of law firm Mary Stearns-Montgomery: “1. Lack of communication. This is one of the major reasons why divorce happens. Distance is created quickly if you don’t share your feelings, don’t tell your partner what’s happening, and keep your feelings to yourself. A successful relationship constantly keeps the lines of communication open. (Stearns-Montgomery)”

IV. THIRD SECTIONIdeal Couple: unrealistically ideal relationships (a few paragraphs)

Continue summary of the movie and how Parker’s character is perfect in every situation: she’s great at paintballing, she knows all about sailing terminology to get him out of a bind, etc.  MaConaughy drives a Porsche, dresses nice, has a successful job, is athletic, good rock-climber, mountain-biker, sailor, etc.

Both actors are very fit, good looking, dressed nicely, etc.  They both have quirky, less-attractive friends.

Talk about how Stearns-Montgomery lists “Insecurity” as one of the top ten reasons for divorce (Stearns-Montgomery).  Also, in Hawkins’ book it is listed as a top reason: “Researchers have found that some personality factors put people at more risk for divorce. One of the most important is feeling insecure about yourself and your self-worth. Insecure individuals are more likely to become unhappy in their marriages over time and to divorce” (Hawkins, 44)

Furthermore, Hawkins talks about finances, which these movies always overlook, “Researchers have estimated that individuals with annual incomes of more than $50,000 have a lower chance of divorce.  Apparently having at least a modest income can help couples avoid stresses that can lead to divorce” (Hawkins, 42).


V. FOURTH SECTIONTime: short relationships and all done in two hours (a few paragraphs)

In the movie, again, they are only dating for a couple of weeks when the breakup.  Then, they have one conversation a couple of weeks after the breakup and all is healed.

Talk about how the timeframe is unrealistic on two levels: (a) they date for a short period of time (their two friends in the movie have relationships in even shorter periods of time), and (b) the whole things lasts two hours or less.

Americans want things now.  The whole relationship happening in a two-hour movie exacerbates the desire of young couple to get to the happily-ever-after part of the relationship.  Put in this quote from Jennifer Baumgartner, Psy.D, known as Dr. B: “Our food is fast, our Internet is high speed, and our shipping is next day. If we don’t have to wait for something why should we?Sometimes we want something instantly when it would be better for it to have happened more slowly…getting married, having children, leaving a job, having our dreams come true…” (Baumgartner)

Finally, in the two-hour movie, they can’t show the decades that follow in a relationhip.  The decades of communication, hard financial stress, kids, etc., etc., etc.


VI. FIFTH SECTION (Counter-argument from skeptics and rebuttal)

There has to be some sort of counter-argument that is addressed in this paper.  It can technically go anywhere, just make sure a counter-argument (that movies don’t cause divorce) is listed and that you refute the counter-argument.



Write basic conclusion, summarize paper, etc.

Then close with this quote from the move and explain that this is one way people look at relationships… In a sober moment, a friend of MaConaughy’s says he wants a boat because he loves boats.  MaConaughy, having just broken up with Parker, replies, “No, you don’t love boats, you love the idea of a boat; but the reality is, they’re just a drain on your time, on your wallet, and on your emotions.  In the end, she will break your heart.  You see, because in the end, no matter how much you care for her, she’s got no feelings for you.  I mean, look at her, she’s a boat!  She’s wood!  Forget buyin’ a boat.  You want to feel pain?  You’re better off slammin’ your hand in a car door” (Failure).




Baumgartner, Jennifer. “I Want It…Now!” Psychology Today: Health, Help, Happiness Find a Therapist. Sussex Publishers, 7 July 2011. Web. 25 Nov. 2014.

Failure to Launch.  Dir. Tom Dey.  Perf. Matthew MaConaughy and Sarah Jessica Parker.  Screenplay by Tom J. Astle and Matt Ember.  Paramount Pictures, 2006.  DVD.


Firestone, Lisa. “Why the Spark Fades in a Relationship.” The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 3 Apr. 2012. Web. 25 Nov. 2014.


Hawkins, Alan J., and Tamara A. Fackrell. Should I Keep Trying to Work It Out?: A Guidebook for Individuals and Couples at the Crossroads of Divorce (and Before). Salt Lake City, Utah: Produced on Behalf of the Utah Commission on Marriage, 2009. Print.


Stearns-Montgomery, Mary. “Divorce Articles.” The Top 10 Reasons Marriages End in Divorce. Stearns-Montgomery & Proctor, 26 June 2013. Web. 22 Nov. 2014.



Leave a Reply