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Culture > Entertainment

The Lost Art of the Romcom

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Washington chapter.

I don’t believe in the idea of a true “golden age” of film. Classical Hollywood film holds this title, but I find that to be more descriptive of a shared style rather than the eras rank among others. There’s some incredible movies from the 80’s, and theres some rotten movies from the 80’s. Each decade, or even year, in the history of film theres standouts, and bombers. It’s impossible to truly decide which time frame was the best of the best, as theres something to be said for the value in them all.

There does, however, seem to be a universal truth among film lovers; the late 80’s to early 2000’s is undeniably the golden age of romcoms. How can any other era hold up against Nora Ephron’s great reign? Modern films keep releasing, but nobody can seem to capture what the charm of that era.

I do think that there is some truth to this claim; Some truly unmatched romantic comedy cinema was coming out at this time. I mean, when you have films like When Harry Met Sally, Moonstruck, and the Before Trilogy, it’s hard to live up to such a legacy. However, as with plenty of good things, sometimes you must dig past the mainstream in order to find gold.

It seems most of the modern romcom discourse is stemming from the release of Anyone But You. There’s people who genuinely believe that this film is paving the way for a renaissance. Sure, the movie was good, it got the job done, but are we really comparing it to goddamn Notting Hill? We are not properly honoring the genre with two straight people making a lesbian wedding about themselves.

While there is no way to properly categorize what made the golden age so special, there is one key component that, when properly utilized, can make for a true modern romantic comedy masterpiece. There needs to be something truly human about the characters. I don’t even necessarily mean they have to be human beings, I think that there could be good romcoms about aliens. But the characters need to be relatibly off-beat and flawed. Which is precisley where Anyone But You fails. I am not looking at Sydney Sweeney get water on her jeans and feeling represented, I am feeling weirded out that we are trying to pretend that she is a quirky average joe. The rule isn’t to say that the films should make certain that each situation needs to be completely in the realm of possibility. Its about balancing the far fetched plot lines with the audiences ability to see themselves in the characters.

I beg of the Anyone But You truthers to take a moment to look further than whats being pushed in their faces. Rye Lane for example, is 2023 release that expertly embodies the golden age of romcoms while still remaining true to modern cinema. The primary characters are deliciously human. They’re flawed and eccentric in just the right way. While I will obviously never be in this exact situation (as I am a white american woman) when Yas breaks into her ex’s home, I can easily paste myself into this situation. And this is exactly what makes Rye Lane such an exemplary romcom.

Coming from a self proclaimed Nora Ephron superfan: the romcom is not a dying art, one just has to know how to find a good one on their own. Films like Palm Springs, Set it Up, The Big Sick, and Plus One are all sitting there, waiting for you to watch and feel that feeling only a good romcom can give you. This is your sign to stop wishing for the good old days and delve into the beauty of modern romantic comedy! Next time you queue up How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days, add something new up next. I think you’ll be delightfully surprised how the artistry of the romcom has persevered.

Montanna Lovins

Washington '27

Montanna Lovins is a Freshman at UW where she is studying English and Creative Writing. Her writing covers mainly entertainment media, primarily focusing on film and literature. When she isn’t writing, Montanna is commonly found in local theaters or watching movies on her laptop in the dorm. She also enjoys reading classic literature, playing guitar, baking, and hiking to hunt for frogs.