No (Heart)Strings Attached: Overplayed Rom-Com Plots

I would classify myself as a true hopeless romantic, so this time of year only exacerbates how much I love love. And, I ESPECIALLY love all aspects of corny love movies—hook, line, and swoon-worthy sinker. Whether you’re a fan of the movie genre (or not), it’s practically undeniable that rom-coms and Valentine’s Day season go cheesily hand-in-hand. I happen to really like a good “rom-com-athon,” otherwise known as a rom-com marathon—but there’s always room for some introspection afterwards (maybe that’s just me).


What was I thinking about, you may wonder? It’s easy to admit these types of movies tug at an emotional heartstring or strike a chord with the viewers, but their plots play out like a broken record. And yet, we can’t help but binge-watch and fall for them over and over again. So, this article is going to look at some of the most common plots in these romantic comedies and how they may be affecting how we come to see, understand, and not only give, but also reciprocate love in real-life scenarios.


  • “Ugly” girl gets makeover = instantly fawned over: With movies that feature makeovers as a central theme, we’re grooming viewers to think one of the only ways to fall in love is to fall for external appearances. This perpetuates the need for people to be overly critical of themselves, and it cheapens what REALLY matters about a person: what’s on the inside. If you tell someone you can’t even make the effort to see the internal beauty until it matches the exterior, that’s the kind of attitude in need of a makeover. Also, it kind of grinds my gears that one of the first steps to this ~drastic~ change is taking off GLASSES. Look, not all of us are born with 20/20 vision! Haven’t you ever heard the saying, “Love is blind?”

    • Prevalent in: Clueless, She’s All That, The Princess Diaries


  • Excessive grand gestures: For the sake of movie magic, some grandiose and over-the-top proclamations of love may be necessary to draw people to box offices, but is it realistic? Love, in all its forms, should be celebrated. It can be small moments that amount to a big feeling of love… it doesn’t always have to be a mad dash to the airport,  à la Love Actually. Sure, it can be fun to see how far someone may go to express their feelings in magnitude, but the issue I have with this plot comes when it’s in conjunction with an “apology.” Leading men and women have been using grand gestures in lieu of an “I’m sorry” for a long time; but, sweeping them off their feet shouldn’t be the fallback option to get their bad behavior swept under the rug. When executed properly and not because they screwed up, grand gestures can be really endearing. But I don’t think they’re practical in everyday life and/or should be highly expected much further than the silver screen.

    • Prevalent in: 10 Things I Hate About You, Say Anything


  • Damsel in distress: From very early ages, we are presented with the idea of Prince Charming coming to swoop in to our rescue, either on horseback or with a true love’s kiss. But, this can be problematic because it enforces an idea of helplessness (usually from the woman’s POV). As someone who considers herself a strong female, I certainly wouldn’t be opposed to a male counterpart… but I’m completely capable of rescuing myself. I know fairytales are all good fun and riding off into the sunset with a dreamy prince or inheriting a throne is an idealized version of true love, but girls (and guys) gotta stay true to themselves!

    • Prevalent in: Cinderella, The Little Mermaid, etc.


  • (SEVERE) opposites attract: We’ve all heard the saying “opposites attract” before, but the line has to be drawn somewhere. Movies featuring protagonists who have a penchant for HATING each other are unable to forge good communication skills or emotional connection when it comes to practicing real-world relationships. In fact, the motive for movies with hatred between the two main characters is to establish sexual tension that somehow always miraculously morphs into happily-ever-after. If the only foundation that’s been laid is that you both like GETTING laid without any other common interests, it’ll lead to a bed-shaking but overall shaky bond.

    • Prevalent in: The Proposal, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, Bridget Jones’s Diary


  • Best friends who serve as relationship counselors 24/7: This one is a little less about the actual romantic connections in the movie and more about platonic relationships. It can be GREAT finding a new fling and/or dating someone, but it doesn’t mean flinging your friendships aside. Sure, they may be happy for you, but deep down, it stings to always feel like you’re placing second in the race for someone’s attention. If you put the people who have been there for you forever on the back-burner while your new ‘ship is just heating up, you’re probably gonna get burned… and won’t have a bestie (guy or girl) to confide in. Value those friendships, people!

    • Prevalent in: Bridesmaids, 27 Dresses, 13 Going on 30, You’ve Got Mail


Fear not, the time to boycott your 100th viewing of The Notebook after reading this article hasn’t arrived. Love is such an expansive idea, and it means so many different things depending on who you ask. I certainly don’t have any plans to give up my “rom-com-athons.” But, I do plan on reflecting on the idea that the silver screen is not always the ideal place to draw influence on how to spread love (and I hope you will, too).