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Literature / One Day

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One Day follows the story of Dexter Mayhew and Emma Morley, who meet and form a friendship as they graduate from university in 1988 and charts the progress of their lives by 'checking in' on their lives annually on the anniversary of the day they met.

A novel by David Nicholls and adapted into a film in 2011 starring Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess. A television adaptation, starring Leo Woodall and Ambika Mod, was released on Netflix on February 8, 2024.

This novel provides examples of:

  • Artistic License: Dex lost his job as a video game presenter in the movie because he is over 30 and considered too old for the job. Anyone remotely familiar with the gaming world would know that the average age of gamers is 35, and gaming Youtuber who are over 30 years old (the late The Cynical Brit and James Rolfe are just some examples) are just as popular as anyone else.
  • Better as Friends: What Dex and Emma initially settle on.
  • Betty and Veronica: Emma is the Betty to all of Dex's other love interests as Veronicas, while he is the Veronica to her Bettys (Ian especially).
  • Brainy Brunette: Emma, a good student with a part-time work who eventually becomes a teacher.
  • Byronic Hero: Dex. Underneath his rather shallow and hedonistic behaviour, he's a pretty troubled and flawed young man, and suffers internal conflict. He's still a good man deep down, and ultimately understands he has genuine feelings only for Emma; they eventually decide to go living together. Of course, he becomes completely depressed when Emma dies, and the trope is played even more straight.
  • The Casanova: Dex, especially in his early years. He later becomes a Ladykiller in Love.
  • Disposable FiancĂ©: Ian. Their relationship is shown to be one more of convenience than passion.
  • Intimate Lotion Application: When Emma and Dexter go to the beach together, he offers to rub sunscreen on her back, and while she accepts, it's clear the act makes them both feel the sexual tension between them despite their agreement to go on the trip as friends.
  • Ladykiller in Love: Eventually, Dex. He develops genuine romantic feelings for Emma and they plan to go living together. She tragically dies, though..
  • Look Both Ways: Emma rides her bike out of an alley without looking and gets hit by a truck.
  • Mood Whiplash: From heartwarming to tearjerker in the space of one traffic accident.
  • Nice Guy: Ian may not be the ideal form of romantic ideal. But he is kind, honest and does try his best.
  • Romantic False Lead: Several. Ian and Sylvie are the most prominent, as the love feelings aren't genuine. Ian in particular is a hopeless mismatch between him and Emma.
  • Shotgun Wedding: Implied between Dex and Sylvie once she got pregnant.
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: Sort of. Their timing is off, and often when one is single the other is not, but also they both need to go through a significant amount of Character Development before being mature enough to handle their own relationship.
  • Uptown Girl: Inverted. Dex comes from a wealthy, upper-class family and Emma from a more modest background.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Emma calls out Dex on his shallow, party-boy lifestyle. As does his mother.
  • Will They or Won't They?: Emma and Dex. They will, but then Emma dies.