Love Actually included 10 big romantic storylines, but was there a hidden eleventh all along? Here’s the theory on Daniel and Karen’s love story.
According to a fan theory, Love, Actually is the worst because it forgot to highlight an important love story that was there all along: Karen and Daniel. Directed by Richard Curtis (Four Weddings and a Funeral), Love, Actually is a 2003 Christmas romantic comedy following 10 separate thematically linked love stories that happen to be connected in one way or another. Starring an ensemble cast of primarily British actors, Love, Actually popularized the trend of intertwining holiday love stories that would be used again with Valentine’s Day and New Year’s Eve later on.
Two of the ten stories are linked by best friends Karen (Emma Thompson) and Daniel (Liam Neeson), whose connection is revealed when Daniel and Karen speak on the phone about mourning the recent death of his wife. Daniel’s primary story is more about the loving father-son relationship he forms with his stepson Sam (played by Game of Thrones’ Thomas Brodie-Sangster), who became withdrawn after his mother’s death. Karen’s story follows the revelation that her husband Harry (Alan Rickman) is essentially having an affair with his coworker. By the end of Love, Actually, Karen and Harry have taken some time apart with an uncertain future, while Daniel has seemingly begun a new relationship with Carol, making Love, Actually the worst.
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Though Karen and Daniel finish the film in another’s arms, it isn’t lost on fans that an eleventh hidden love story may have actually been between the two so-called close friends all along. A revelation from Twitter user thisjenlewis proposes that Love, Actually dropped hints about Daniel being in love with Karen the whole time. The main source of evidence is a late scene when Daniel meets Sam’s schoolmate’s mother Carol after the Christmas pageant. When Liam Neeson’s character Daniel is flirting with her he plays coy by calling her the wrong name, though the name happens to be none other than Karen. Subconsciously, Daniel must have felt a romantic connection to her during that moment to use her name.
Karen & Daniel Are Made For Each Other In Love Actually
It makes sense that Daniel and Karen would be perfect for each other, considering the best-friends-turned-endgame-lovers cliche isn’t one that Love, Actually overtly used. When seeing Karen and Daniel interact with their significant others, the chemistry feels less sincere than it does between the two friends. Love, Actually’s epilogue also makes it apparent that Carol and Alan Rickman’s character Harry won’t stick, considering that Harry betrayed Karen and Carol was more of a rebound for Daniel than a genuine romantic connection. Daniel also jokes about being interested in model Claudia Schiffer, who happens to play his new girlfriend Carol – a coincidence that points to a possible dream relationship for Daniel, rather than a sustainable reality.
Daniel and Karen’s relationship is crucial to each character. Karen is there for Daniel while he grieves the loss of his wife. Their friendship isn’t tinged with jealousy, and the two are able to communicate openly with one another, free of misunderstanding and accusations. As well, they both share the same sense of humor and are incredibly understanding of one another’s problems, being there for each other without question. Their open communication, lack of jealous urges, and overall care for one another are the basis of a truly healthy romantic relationship. Karen and Daniel in Love, Actually are made for each other. The friends-to-lovers trope is often overplayed in romantic comedies like Love, Actually. However, it would’ve been welcomed for the pair, given that the Christmas movie only seems to include relationships that are deeply problematic. It’s in this way that Love, Actually is the worst.
Karen & Daniel’s Missing Love Story Prove Love Actually Is The Worst
Considering that there are 10 separate love stories in Love, Actually, it’s mind-boggling that the film didn’t choose to portray even one healthy relationship. Billy Mack (Bill Nighy) and Joe’s (Gregor Fisher) friendship is solely based on money, despite what Billy concludes, and the two end up celebrating Christmas together by getting drunk and watching porn. Mark (Andrew Lincoln) falls in love with his friend’s wife and makes a pass at her while her husband is watching TV. Juliet (Kiera Knightley, who plays Elizabeth in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise) responds by kissing him before returning to her husband. And, somehow, Karen and Harry are supposed to move on from his affair. All of these relationships prove that Love, Actually is problematic. especially since there was a healthy relationship below the surface of the narrative that the movie overlooked to focus on harmful ones. Audiences would’ve embraced Karen and Daniel’s romance with open arms, and if anything it would’ve made the film heaps less toxic. Love, Actually is the worst because it put romances like Prime Minister David (Hugh Grant) and his “fat” coworker Natalie (Martine McCutcheon) at the forefront.
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Karen also happens to be the first word that Daniel says in Love, Actually – when calling her incessantly to help him prepare for his wife’s funeral. Karen is the one who Daniel can always rely on and trusts to comfort him more than anyone else in his time of need, which forms a bond that could likely become more. The one scene Love, Actually needed to solidify the two-way street of this relationship was Karen confiding in Daniel about her worries around Harry’s infidelity, where Daniel could take the role of listener and comforter. This missed opportunity proves that Love, Actually is the worst because it missed out on a perfect relationship. Love, Actually provides an abundance of tear-jerker romances, but the one that truly got away was Daniel and Karen.
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About The Author
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Jordan Williams is a Movie/TV Feature Senior Staff Writer for Screen Rant. She graduated from the University of Oregon in 2020 with a B.A. in Psychology and a minor in Media Studies.
Jordan is based in Seattle, Washington and enjoys exploring the natural beauty the PNW has to offer. She runs on coffee and classic movies, taking pride in having watched every film on AFI’s 100 Greatest Films list and every Best Picture Oscar winner.
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