There's no happy ending ... and that's even better
This just in: Taylor Swift is officially a fully grown, I-to-the-R-to-the-L adult.
Ha. Just kidding. I mean, not about the last part – it’s true. We said goodbye to the Taylor who walked out of a fairytale storybook so long (long, long, long) ago that we get almost the same feeling flipping through our high school yearbooks as we do when we see a #TBT of her princess ringlets. Almost, because Taylor, to the best of our knowledge, never had a mullet.
Of course, to think of adulthood as a haircut would be to trivialize the much more important ways Taylor has shown the world she’s come quite far since this and this and oh my gosh, this. Her art has evolved, in the same way you no longer spell out your crush’s name on your geometry binder, and her latest music video, appropriately dreamy and wild, is absolutely not the first sign Taylor is a fully grown adult. But could it be the loudest? The truest? The most … devastating?
“Wildest Dreams” pairs Taylor with Scott Eastwood, who plays her love interest in a movie extracted from the golden age of Hollywood and perhaps inspired by another Taylor of the Elizabeth persuasion. It’s exactly the kind of reel-to-real romance puns about reel-to-real romances were made for. The plot feels like a classic are-we-or-aren’t-we situation, because not all relationships are best summarized by a Facebook relationship status – seriously, you guys (runs up stairs because Mom will never understand, slams door, alerts group text). We know it’s not all an act for Swift and Eastwood’s “Wildest Dreams” characters, but what we don’t know is whether or not they’ll get their Hollywood happy ending after all.
Now, we’ve known about Taylor’s said womanly ways since before she assembled her squad – sorry, Squad – for the Moonman-yielding “Bad Blood,” so dissected as to nearly miss Taylor’s point altogether, that “girls can play soldiers.” Her video for “Blank Space” was, at its core, a more effective response to the tabloid portrayal of her love life than we could ever dream up, a reminder Taylor’s not just in on the joke; she’s getting the last laugh. Both of these 1989 power players tell us what we already know, that the girl falling for Romeo in “Love Story” isn’t the same woman who’s effectively taken over the music industry/the world/your Instagram feed.
And yet, when we watched Taylor walk among lions and elephants in “Wildest Dreams” – composed, fierce, flawless even – we had … all the feelings. I’d like to think about it as a mom dropping her daughter off at college, fully aware that the child she raised is already a capable adult with a driver’s license and the right to vote in elections and the ability to do laundry unprovoked. But watching grown-up Taylor in “Wildest Dreams” is like watching that daughter head into her dorm, unpacking the shower caddy she paid for all by herself and realizing you can’t really ask, “What did you learn today?” again.
Taylor Swift is 25 years old, which is to say Taylor Swift is still very young. And that’s what takes us to the final moments of the music video, in which we hold onto a glimmer of hope that Taylor’s “Wildest Dreams” alter ego will get that Hollywood happy ending, that she won’t get her heart broken. But this isn’t “Love Story” or “You Belong with Me” or even “Shake It Off.” We don’t get a happily ever after in “Wildest Dreams” because Taylor, a fully grown, I-to-the-R-to-the-L adult, gives us something much better.