Every single Love Actually storyline, ranked by how badly it’s aged
The octopus is the only winner of this film
It’s no secret Love Actually has aged like a cucumber you forgot about at the back of the fridge, and then when you finally find it again it’s just a sac of mouldy green mush, like some sort of horrific water snake toy. In short: It fucking sucks. Of all the storylines, the film’s only redeemable quality may have been the lesbian love story, but unfortunately those scenes were cut from Love Actually before the film ever screened.
The film was released in 2003, and it’s fair to say the world has changed a lot since then. But between the Nokia bricks, the fat jokes and some just all-around dodgy plot points, it’s fair to say almost every Love Actually storyline wouldn’t be the same if it had been filmed today. But which Love Actually storylines still hold up now, and which is definitively the worst?
Here’s the official list of Love Actually storylines, ranked by how badly they’ve aged:
11. Daniel and Sam
Please inject Daniel (Liam Neeson) and his stepson Sam pretending to be in The Titanic film directly into my veins, because it is sheer perfection. This storyline has aged like Meryl Streep: Impeccably. I have nothing else to add.
Would it be the same now? Over my dead body would a single part of this change in any way, shape or form.
10. Honourable mention: Rowan Atkinson and the gift box
What’s wrong with this storyline, I hear you cry? Absolutely nothing. It is pure, cinematic genius. Write “let me just pop it in the box” on my gravestone, I beg you.
Would it be the same now? Rowan Atkinson would tell Alan Rickman to piss off and stop cheating on his wife, then would instead wrap a necklace that Kiera Knightley’s husband was buying for her. The remainder of the scene with the gift wrap would not have a single alteration.
9. John and Judy
Mr Maddens from Nativity and Stacey from Gavin and Stacey are slightly less wholesome in this Love Actually storyline. They’re body doubles in a film, and are naked for much of their characters’ screen time. I’ll be honest, not much happens with the two of them. Aside from the fact it’s the most infinitely forgettable of the Love Actually storylines, this really hasn’t aged badly at all.
Would it be the same now? There’d be a subtle Gavin and Stacey joke thrown in there, and possibly a cameo from Ruth Jones.
8. Jamie and Aurelia
This storyline isn’t awful, it’s mainly just boring. Watching Jamie (Colin Firth) fail to speak Portuguese isn’t exactly how I’d choose to spend an evening, and getting married to someone you’ve never had a conversation with is a bit suss, but each to their own.
The only slightly interesting thing that happens in this storyline is when all the children shout “I hate Uncle Jamie!” at Colin Firth when he turns up for Christmas. It is, however, quite harsh of them to say this while Colin Firth’s brother who literally had an affair with his wife is also standing there.
Would it be the same now? Jamie and Aurelia would communicate via DuoLingo and their storyline would, thankfully, be over far sooner.
7. Sarah, Karl and her brother Michael
Sarah (Laura Linney) fancies a boy at work and spends half the film simultaneously trying to shag him whilst also being too terrified to speak more than two words to him. We’ve all been there. Then when they’re just about to shag, it turns out the guy she thought she liked is actually a massive prick. Again, we’ve all been there.
Would it be the same now? Honestly, I’d love the storyline with her brother in a mental health facility to be fleshed out way more than it was, because it’s super interesting and not something you often see represented in media. Karl I can take or leave, but if Love Actually was remade now I’d like to think he’d be more understanding and, you know, an actual decent person.
6. Sam and Joanna
The running-through-the-airport-for-young-love scene simply could not happen now. Sam would definitely be tackled by security, probably get tasered, and possibly removed from the care of Liam Neeson.
Would it be the same now? Instead of the dramatic airport scene, Sam would film a TikTok about how much he loved Joanna and desperately try to make it go viral so she’d watch before she left for America.
5. Billy Mack and his manager Joe
Thank you, Bill Nighy, for giving us the “Ant or Dec” line to use every single time I’m A Celeb is on. It truly is the gift that keeps on giving. Other than this, the disgraced-popstar storyline has homophobia, misogyny and fat jokes, which are obviously not acceptable at any time, whether that be 2003 or 2020.
Would it be the same now? Billy Mack would be competing against Billie Eilish instead of Blue for the Christmas Number One.
4. Colin and the American girls
Colin is Jay from The Inbetweeners, but 30 years old and with a credit card. Colin says English girls are “stuck up”, just because they don’t want to shag someone who is, for want of a better word, an absolute knob. So Colin jets off to the States to try and find some poor American girl who he can convince to shag him instead.
Would it be the same now? The American girls would actually be part of some kind of anti-Colin cult and pretend to fancy him so they can take him home and kill him, and we would all rejoice.
3. Prime Minister David and Natalie
Hugh Grant and Martine McCutcheon’s storyline starts off so promisingly, with Natalie (Martine McCutcheon) swearing multiple times to her boss, who also happens to be the Prime Minister. However, it quickly becomes a deluge of fat jokes and HR nightmare after HR nightmare.
David (Hugh Grant) is trying to be matey with the American President so jokes about Natalie’s “pipes” with him, and then straight-up fires her when she’s harassed at work by the American guy. Yes, he does that oddly patriotic speech everyone goes wild over, but then never asks Natalie if she’s okay and instead just makes her move to a different department. Not cool, David.
And can we just get one thing straight: Natalie is NOT fat. Like, at all.
Would it be the same now? Just sack off this storyline and instead make an entire film about the octopus. After all, eight is a lot of legs David.
2. Harry, Karen and Mia
Okay this has genuinely annoyed me forever: Why does Mia wear devil horns to her work Christmas party? You’re two months late to Halloween, hun.
I hate every single part of this storyline. The weird flirting at work between Harry (Alan Rickman) and Mia, the fact he drops a ton of money (Two hundred! And! Seventy! Pounds!) on a necklace for her whilst palming his wife off with a CD she probably already owns, and the mere idea that anyone could ever contemplate cheating on queen Emma Thompson. This storyline is the dodgy workplace misconduct of PM David (as well as – you guessed it – some fat jokes), but with the added inexcusable offence of making Emma Thompson cry.
Would it be the same now? Harry would be fired by HR and flee the country in shame, leaving Karen (Emma Thompson) to listen to Joni Mitchell in peace.
1. Juliet, Peter and Mark
If Mark wasn’t part of this storyline, Juliet (Kiera Knightley) and her husband Peter would be my unproblematic Love Actually faves, but unfortunately for us all, Mark is a part of this.
He was in love with his best mate’s girlfriend for years, but instead of telling either of them he decided to just always be rude to her instead. Then he was entrusted to film their wedding, but instead of actually doing anything useful just spent the entire day zooming in on Kiera Knightley’s face – for what? His own personal wank bank? Mark, what exactly did you think was going to happen when your mate inevitably asked you for the footage you’d taken of the happiest day of his life?
Then to top it all off, he rocks up at their front door uninvited, “without hope or agenda” (vom), with a load of signs and a creepy non-apology. And instead of telling her husband and running for her life, Juliet kisses him. Sigh.
Would it be the same now? Mark wouldn’t be in this film but instead would be Joe from You. Juliet and Peter would have a nice wedding followed by a Christmas scene with some normal carol singers, and then pop back up again at Heathrow Airport just before Love Actually’s credits rolled.