Autumn’s August
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Autumn’s August

The Death of Romantic Comedies. Does This Mean We Don’t Want To Watch Them Anymore?

Pretty Woman| Pinterest| goodhousekeeping.com

Anshu: Have you seen this movie “You’ve Got Mail”?

Me: Yes, of course! It’s a cute movie. Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks ❤

Anshu: Yeah, it was nice. They don’t make movies like these anymore.

Me: So true. No good rom-coms from this era, for sure.

As you can guess, this conversation got me thinking. What happened to the genre of romantic comedies or as more intellectually evolved people(really though?!) like to call them “chick-flicks”. Why don’t they make a good, simple, heartfelt and yes, cliché movie anymore? Now that I think about it, as someone who is a self-proclaimed rom-com expert, I always find myself going back in time to recommend great romantic movies to people.

You’ve Got Mail| Pinterest| Buzzfeed

And guess what….before I run out of recommendations from the 90s and early 2000s, people find their next watch. Whenever I’m having a bad day, I find solace in a light-hearted romance. What happened to cute montages, fake dating, throw-away-the-glasses-and-she’ll-be-pretty transformations, yes, it’s a formula played over and over but I love it and I know so do a lot of people. How about I refresh your memory with a few of these names- 10 things I Hate About You, When Harry met Sally, You’ve Got Mail, Pretty Woman, While you Were Sleeping, My Big Fat Greek Wedding, The Proposal, Never Been Kissed, Two Weeks’ Notice, Notting Hill, Miss Congeniality, How to Lose a Guy in 10 days, Jerry Mcguire, Just Go With It, The Wedding Singer, 50 First Dates, Sweet Home Alabama, It’s a Boy Girl Thing, The Ugly Truth, 27 Dresses and the list goes on…..

Iconic scene from “10 Things I Hate About You”| Pinterest| tumblr

These are such great picks for a ride to fantasyworld and yet Hollywood doesn’t make more of them. But Why?

Focus on big-budget movies especially the Marvel superhero ones

Yep, you heard me. One of the biggest reasons for no rom-coms coming out in the previous decade or even this one is because studios don’t want to produce mid-budget movies. They’re more focused on big-budget comic-book productions which rake in really large numbers. This means that even though we might have some writers and directors willing to make a rom-com, the studios turn them down.

Not Relatable Anymore

This one is obvious I guess. The “good girl-bad boy”, “fake dating” & “a reporter posing as a high school senior who falls in love with her teacher” (Never Been Kissed has some serious moral compass issues- don’t dwell on it) formula used by the 90s and early 2000s romantic comedies doesn’t sit well with regular people and the way their lives have progressed. In terms of reality, people have caught up to the fact that love is way more complicated than it looks in the movies and “happily-ever-afters” exist until they don’t.

Still from “Never Been Kissed”| Pinterest| tumblr

Lack of diversity

I hate to admit it but until this was pointed out to me, I didn’t pay any heed to it. Rom-coms just like the Oscars have had the notorious reputation of being led by a predominantly white and heterosexual cast. Even movies that I love and could rewatch till the day I die (10 Things I Hate About You- because why not!) don’t have a lot of gender diversity and varied sexual orientation.

Honestly, I didn’t care about this until recently. The fact is that now most movies and series are so proactive about supporting the LGBTQ+ community that at least one of the major characters has to be from their community. Being a progressive straight woman, I have been vocally supportive of them but when it comes to cinema, I feel a tad bit indifferent towards them.

Last week, I watched the movie Cobalt Blue on Netflix (by the way, amazing movie…do give it a try and if you recognize the soundtrack precisely, then I’d be impressed…slightly!). It’s about a brother and sister who both fall in love with an artist staying as their paying guest in the house. There’s a gay sex scene and after watching countless of those now, I didn’t feel uncomfortable, just indifferent. My breath didn’t hitch when he closed the distance between them and touched him for the first time, my pulse didn’t quicken at the feel of his breath on the protagonist’s breath, I didn’t….I couldn’t…relate.

That’s when I realized that this is exactly what my beloved rom-coms were doing to them. Just nothing.

Cobalt Blue| IMDb

Very few rom-coms made an attempt to be diverse and it turns out, people like it. My Big Fat Greek Wedding is one such movie that had a different storyline than those of its time wherein a Greek woman falls in love with a British guy. As it turns out, My Big Fat Greek Wedding has been the highest-grossing rom-com of all time. See, told ya!

Poster for “My Big Fat Greek Wedding”| Uploaded by Sue McNevin on Pinterest

Rom-coms are making a comeback but they don’t hold the same charm

Romantic comedies are trying to get some screen time again with hit releases like Crazy Rich Asians, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before and The Kissing Booth (I’m sorry, but who even considers this movie good?!…anyway, we all watched it so there you have it). But in my opinion, they aren’t the same as before. Simple reason: they’re trying too hard to seem relatable by poking fun at themselves. Haha…look at us, our genre demands us to be so cheesy!

When I started writing this piece, I had just one reason to justify the decline of the era of romantic comedies- people aren’t interested. But I wasn’t fully convinced by this argument because I thought I’m still interested, surely someone else is too. Romance by itself can’t be dead, as human beings, we love to hear stories of love. We may believe in them or we may not, but we can’t ignore them.

So I thought if not movies, then what about books? As much as we hate to admit it, we devour romantic books like they’re the last slice of pizza on this planet. In a very recent ranking of New York Times Best Sellers- Combined Print & E-book Fiction, Emily Henry’s Book Lovers bags the 1st spot and Colleen Hoover’s It Ends With Us comes in at the 3rd spot.

Book Lovers by Emily Henry| Goodreads

Last month, I visited a book shop and the first thing that caught my eye was the amazingly bright shelf dedicated to new-age best-selling romance novels. Adored books like Red, White & Royal Blue, Beach Read, The Hating Game and the Off Campus series (loved this one so much!), were staring back at me from their exalted position. I bit back a smile when a lady came running to her husband at the billing counter, telling him they picked the wrong Colleen Hoover book. Their daughter had specifically told them to buy Ugly Love!

Off Campus series by Elle Kennedy| Acereader

I guess you’re tired now and I think I’ve made my point. Romance and romantic comedies are still wanted by the audience. We still love and revere cute love stories with happy endings.

P.S: Go watch or re-watch some of the rom-coms I mentioned or better yet, recommend me some great ones.

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