Romeo and Juliet is a classic tragic love story penned by the playwright William Shakespeare. The plot revolves around two teenagers in love, Romeo and Juliet, who come from rival families. Though they know their parents would never approve of their union, they decide their love is stronger than any rivalry and hatch a plan to run away together. Unfortunately, their families’ unwillingness to get along spells tragedy for them until they both commit suicide and leave their families to weep.
Given that the Davidson/Walker rivalry was such a major plot point in Walker's second season, it’s not surprising that the romance plotline between Stella and Colton has been dubbed a “Romeo and Juliet” story. However, I feel that this is merely a surface level reading that completely ignores the fundamental dynamic that exists between these two teens. Honestly, the only thing Stella and Colton share with the tragic couple is that their families don’t get along. Instead, I liken Stella and Colton to a rather different classical couple: Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy from Pride and Prejudice.
Let’s start at the beginning, shall we?
When Elizabeth and Darcy first meet, there’s instant dislike between them. Darcy brushes her off as low class because of her family’s economic status and claims that even if she was wealthy enough for him, she wasn’t nearly attractive enough to hold his attention. Elizabeth hears all of this and brushes him off as arrogant, elitist, and entitled. Contrary to Romeo and Juliet, it’s hatred at first sight for our lovebirds.
Stella and Colton meet in a similar way. From the very beginning, Colton is prejudiced against Stella because of her family. Due to his grandmother’s lies, he believes Stella to be entitled and that her entire family is untrustworthy. In response to his insults, Stella is rude and standoffish toward him and believes there’s no way they would ever get along.
Later, Darcy does try to gain Elizabeth’s affections. Unfortunately for him, Elizabeth doesn’t recognize his actions that way. She deems his staring at her as him trying to find fault in her, and his attempts at conversation with her are interpreted as invasive and rude. Not to mention she’s already set her sights on another man, George Wickham. He's charming and fun, someone who she easily gets along with.
Similarly, Colton does fall for Stella and makes multiple attempts to get her attention. However, Stella either doesn’t notice them or misinterprets them as friendly rather than romantic. On top of that, Todd also has feelings for Stella and has been making more noticeable moves to get her attention, which she gladly accepts.
There is another barrier in Elizabeth and Darcy’s relationship: the sister of Darcy’s good friend, Charles Bingley. She quite fancies Mr. Darcy (though it’s likely more for his money than any aspect of his personality) and she goes through great lengths to assure that he and Elizabeth remain apart. She tells lies and half-truths to give Elizabeth a false impression of the situation and even meddles in Charles’ engagement with Elizabeth’s sister to keep her away from the estate. It's truly a miracle that these two ended up together at all.
Similarly, Colton's family seems determined to keep Stella and Colton apart. While Dan has been supportive of them since Colton admitted his crush, Denise and Gale are an entirely different story. Gale’s many lies prior to the Davidsons moving to Austin gave Colton a false impression of Stella and her family. Both Gale and Denise make efforts to be aggressive with the Walkers and even used Colton to do so when they were trying to get their hands on the lantern. The animosity between their families even threatened to end the teens' relationship toward the end of the season.
But, things are not perfect for dear Elizabeth. While George is a charming man, he’s also one with a lot of secrets and to say he had a scandalous past would be an understatement. Elizabeth initially tries to make excuses for it and paints his past as lies from Darcy but, when George elopes with her little sister and all but forces her into marriage, it’s hard to ignore his obvious flaws.
In a far less scandalous situation, Todd and Stella’s relationship hits a rough patch after the Walkers lose the ranch. She needs/wants Todd to be her emotional rock during this time, but he’s more focused on having a good time. He says he just wants to distract her from her issues, but Stella sees this more as a sign of his immaturity. She wants to be in a relationship with someone with whom she can have serious discussions, not just a class clown.
After much trial and error, Darcy does eventually learn how to gain Elizabeth’s affection. He’s kind to her when her family is experiencing turmoil and helps in any way he can. This allows him to gain a private audience with her wherein he’s able to be emotionally vulnerable with her. He’s given the chance to apologize for his previous errors and explain that he truly loves her despite, or perhaps because of, her refusal to be a typical lady. This heartfelt moment breaks down Elizabeth’s final walls and she realizes that she shares his affections. When he proposes, she says yes to becoming the next Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy.
In this same vein, Colton does finally reveal his feelings to Stella after trying to apologize for the problems his family has caused her. Though she initially rejects contact with him, he catches her after the ranger fair and presents her with her mother’s necklace to get her to listen. He tells her that he is truly sorry for everything that’s happened to her. He also takes the chance to be emotionally vulnerable with her and reveals his romantic feelings for her. He tells her that the song he wrote, the one that Todd sang to win her heart, was all about how knowing her has made things seem better for him (Colton). Stella doesn’t know how to react at first but she appreciates his honesty. Later, after doing some soul searching, she breaks things off with Todd and tells Colton that the feeling is mutual.
In conclusion: Stella and Colton have far more similarities with Elizabeth and Darcy than Romeo and Juliet could have even had with each other.
I really hope I didn’t come off as a literary snob there but it was a little frustrating for me to see people calling Stella and Colton a “Romeo and Juliet” story just based on the family rivalry and ignoring all the parallels between them and Elizabeth and Darcy.
What do y’all think? Did I hit the mark with this one, or am I off? Does it really even matter? I’m curious to see your comments!
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