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Entertainment

The Case For Romantic Comedies

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

As an aspiring screenwriter, I consider myself a connoisseur of romantic comedies; I will defend them to the death. In fact, I had this same argument a week ago at a Pizza Express in Covent Garden, London, with my friend Sadie. My life and my writing revolve heavily around shows like Friends, Gilmore Girls, The Office, New Girl and pretty much any movie written by Nora Ephron. Sadie, however, can’t stand anything written from a modern romantic comedy perspective.

“Those movies are too predictable,” she argues.

“That’s the beauty of it,” I fire back.

And it is the beauty of it. Romantic comedies are written to be predictable. The reason that rom coms are so successful is because they are female-driven, hilarious and have predictable genre conventions. If you sit down to watch Notting Hill, you’ll know within the first 10 minutes of the movie that Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant will overcome all obstacles to end up with each other. For people who are anxious or enjoy control over their lives, this predictability is relaxing, because you know the direction of the story and there are little to no surprises—the happy ending included.

As both a viewer and a writer, it’s apparent that movies and television serve as a form of escapism where people can travel to their preferred worlds. My friend Sadie, who doesn’t like comedies, is a Classics major and dreams of being an archaeologist. So naturally, she loves historical dramas like Outlander, Bridgerton, Pride & Prejudice, Jane Eyre and the like. I, however, can’t read more than 60 pages of Jane Austen without feeling bored out of my mind.

My other friend, Kayla, who is incredibly business-minded, loves Dynasty, a show based in Atlanta focusing on incredibly wealthy families and their businesses. For her, that show is her form of escapism to a world that she would like to someday emulate, a world where she wears fancy pantsuits and heels while talking about the stock market over an old-fashioned.

For those of us hopeless romantics, we prefer worlds like Gilmore Girls or Sleepless In Seattle. For me, a Creative Writing major who would prefer coffee in an IV, my escapism and relief from anxiety is knowing that Harry and Sally will end up together in When Harry Met Sally. This is why I will defend this genre to the very end. Unfortunately, I can say with confidence that rom coms are not well-made anymore.

The best years of romantic comedies were inarguably the eras from the 1980s through the early 2000s. Movies like Pretty Woman, How To Lose A Guy In Ten Days, My Best Friend’s Wedding, 13 Going On 30 and more dominated the screen, while also being mass-marketed toward women. Yet this trend faded around 2010, and Hollywood simply stopped making this type of movie. Now, rom coms are reduced to mere content, as streaming platforms see the production of a romantic comedy as background entertainment while viewers scroll through Instagram.

I believe Netflix to be at fault for this because they are the only production company creating anything similar to this type of genre. Just on Nov. 5, Netflix released a new Christmas romantic comedy, Love Hard; the premise is that Nina Dobrev’s character is catfished by a quirky, unattractive man and (spoiler alert!) somehow ends up with him at the end.

Now, I understand that the lesson of this movie is to choose personality over looks, yet being catfished is probably inexcusable and won’t be perceived as an ideal love story by most viewers…unless Netflix wanted to punish viewers by creating a “rom-com” with the most unromantic love story of all time. Plus, most viewers will likely have a hard time seeing The Vampire Diaries’ Nina Dobrev get engaged to a guy who looks like he works on the Best Buy Geek Squad.

This is not the first time Netflix is terrible at writing romantic comedies and spinning them out assembly-line-style. The Kissing Booth and To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before franchises progressively lost traces of plot with each movie. It’s as if Hollywood forgot how to write a romantic comedy; or, the best rom-com writers are now in the shadows of retirement.

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Hi! I’m Hannah! I’m from a small town outside of Chicago. Currently, I’m studying abroad in London through Florida State. My major is Creative Writing with a minor in Film.
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