Staff Opinion: Romantic comedies are here for good

By Brigid Lowney | April 13, 2018 3:18pm

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by Molly Lowney / The Beacon

I have a lot of respect for the art of the romantic comedy, or the rom-com. Name a rom-com, and I’ve probably seen it. I’m a sucker for a good meet-cute, and I could watch Heath Ledger sing “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” anytime, anywhere. 

But recently, people are saying the rom-com is dead. According to Business Insider, the amount of rom-coms released has gone down drastically since 2010, with zero romantic comedies produced at the studio level in 2017. The most recent rom-com to earn over $100 million domestically at the box office was “Trainwreck” starring Amy Schumer in 2015. 

But I don’t think the rom-com is dead, not at all. It’s just revamping its image. 

If you’ve ever seen a romantic comedy, you know that it follows a basic format: The main character has a tough time with relationships or is too caught up in their career to focus on love. Then comes the meet-cute, a cute and awkward first encounter that usually results in one person spilling coffee on the other. After a while, a relationship starts to develop, and the main character realizes that maybe, just maybe, this person is the one.

There usually ends up being some sort of conflict or misunderstanding that causes the couple to separate even though, of course, they’re in love. After spending some time apart, the main character realizes how much he or she loves the other person and rushes to find him or her. They then declare their undying love in a cheesy speech that ends with something like: “So, what do ya say? Should we give this thing a chance?” *cue a big romantic kiss and Natasha Bedingfield song*

I’ve probably seen that exact plot in about 20 different movies, and I eat it up every single time. Why? It’s not because I think that rom-coms are an accurate representation of love. In fact, it’s the opposite. Rom-coms make something as complicated as love seem simple and fun. They’re an escape from the reality of everyday life.

But as I look back at all the films that I loved so much as a pre-teen, I can’t help but notice the problems involved in the rom-com genre. Movies like “27 Dresses” or “When Harry Met Sally” only feature white characters with upper-middle class backgrounds as their leads. Other times, rom-coms feature the archetype of “manic pixie dream girl” (i.e. Zooey Deschanel in (500) Days of Summer), a quirky character with little depth whose sole purpose is to pull the male lead out of his depression and teach him to embrace life. 

I think that rom-coms are like a phoenix: one day they will rise from the ashes. Movies like The Big Sick, a 2017 film that features a multicultural couple, are changing the game. Soon, rom-coms won’t look the same as they used to, and I think that’s a good thing. 

We need our media to represent different types of people and cultures and to give female characters more depth. Also, with dating apps and social media, this generation of teenagers and twenty-somethings has a different perception on love and relationships. The typical meet-cutes of past rom-coms aren’t as relatable to a millennial audience.

As LL Cool J says, “Don’t call it a comeback.” Rom-coms have been around for decades, and they’re not going anywhere. They’re evolving with the culture, and I have a feeling we’ll be seeing more of them popping up in theatres very soon.

Brigid Lowney is a junior English major. She can be reached at lowney19@up.edu. 

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