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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Youngstown chapter.

With Anyone But You’s arrival to the Netflix streaming platform early last week, romantic comedies are returning to the center spotlight. Following their absence from the big screen in recent years, audiences everywhere are thrilled to see the beloved genre thriving once more. While these movies may seem unrealistic and a tad bit cheesy, they possess an indescribable sense of magic that has viewers pressing play again and again.

Starting in the late 80’s and trickling into the early 2000’s, rom-coms ruled the screen during their golden age, attracting big name celebrities and big dollar results. By the early 90’s, an era of hilarious meet-cutes, steamy kisses, and grand professions of love had cemented its place in cinematic culture. Starring the likes of Julia Roberts, Sandra Bullock, Drew Barrymore, and so many others, the genre was expanded again and again, each script a singing the same familiar tune as its predecessor. This repetition generated a negative response, dubbing the rom-com as a lesser and insignificant type of media. Considered vapid and girlish by some, the genre took a hard hit and began to decline in popularity amongst audiences.

However, as a member of Gen Z and a child of the evolving streaming universe, that plethora of classic 90’s and 2000’s films defined the term rom-com for me. Ranging from 1990’s Pretty Woman to 2008’s 27 Dresses, the genre taught me about about dating, dreams, and the daring beauty of love. It transported me to a different decade, where despite the tacky fashion, dated technology, and old-school slang, the characters were still experiencing universal struggles. Despite the complaints of those who discredit the entire genre, rom-coms have always been about more than just the romance of two individuals. Time and time again, they have proven to be about friendship, loyalty, hard work, and self discovery. Rom-coms teach audiences about accepting our own flaws and embracing the differences of others to become better and more genuine people.

Paramount Pictures

Andie Anderson and the entire plot of How To Loose A Guy in 10 Days taught me to fight for what I want in life, whether it’s a guy or simply respect in the work place. Clueless and the fashion of Cher helped me realize the value of high expectations. Kat and Bianca Stratford of 10 Things I Hate About You taught me the importance of loving your sister, even if you have different outlooks on the world. 13 Going on 30 showed me the significance of enjoying the present and appreciating your friends. These timeless films captured the essence of life, the good, the bad, and the ugly, inspiring audiences of all ages to love themselves and their lives. They taught me to love myself in the midst of high school (and all its teenage angst), and step into the role of being an adult. With time, I began to gain my own experience in life, yet my rom-com education always remains tried and true.

And yes, as the title genre states, romantic comedies do in fact include insights of love and relationships, but they are far more meaningful than just the way to dress on a first date or how to flutter one’s eyelashes as the misguided perspectives of many assume. Instead, the genre preaches the importance of respect and honesty in a successful relationship. It showcases the effort and dedication that should flourish in a caring partnership, whether it includes building the home of her dreams (The Notebook), publishing an article in the newspaper about him (Never Been Kissed), supporting her journey through law school (Legally Blonde), or standing outside her window with a boombox overhead (Say Anything). They also highlight the error of human nature, whether the mistake be large or small, and the role forgiveness plays in adult relationships. Rom-coms teach the importance of balancing one’s relationships amongst their job, friendships, and personal happiness. These are the same crucial components that exist in real relationships on the other side of the screen.

While some continue to define the entire genre of romantic comedy as light and meaningless, its impact on society and myself continues to be proven. Whether its about self-worth, relationships, or even just rolling with the punches, these are the movies that shape one’s perspective of life’s possibilities. As new films like Set It Up, To All the Boys I’ve Ever Loved Before, and Anyone but You continued to be produced, I can only hope they include the same valuable lessons and wonderful magic that enchanted me. May the rom-com live on forever and continue inspiring the next generation.

Maggie Byers

Youngstown '26

Maggie Byers is a second-year member of the Her Campus chapter at Youngstown State University. She writes about holiday trends, relationships, and entertainment (ranging from Taylor Swift to Harry Potter). Maggie is a campus employee and majors in Public and Professional Writing. When she’s not busy working or writing, she loves reading romance novels, listening to Broadway music, and exclusively wearing silver jewelry.