As Valentine’s Day is around the corner, many people will be turning to their favorite romantic comedies for entertainment. When you think of your favorite rom-coms, did they come out recently? More likely, they’ve come from the 80’s, 90’s, and early 2000’s. In the midst of awards season and the release of new movies this year, the one thing that’s severely missing from theaters today is the quality rom-com that used to be so commonplace. So what has happened to all the good rom-coms?
While rom-coms were one of the most beloved genres of the preceding decades, they fell victim to the influence of big budget superhero flicks. Studios simply didn’t care to create any more mid-budget romantic comedies when they could be making massive blockbusters or the traditional award winners. Even today, when the odd romantic comedy comes out, they’re lacking the factors that made earlier rom-coms so good. Films from the 90’s like When Harry Met Sally or Ten Things I Hate About You, as well as from the early 2000’s like 13 Going on 30 and She’s the Man, were tailored for a certain audience, but still managed to contain aspects that would appeal to a large group of movie watchers. Despite the prevalence of the love story, the story line was complex enough to be enjoyable for the non-target audience.
There’s not one thing that determines a rom-com’s quality. The elements of a good rom-com are writing, plot, love story, and acting. Aside from the small quantity coming out, newer rom-coms lack the high quality of writing and acting necessary to make a good movie. In popular action movies, you can get away with plot holes and bad acting by including a decent fight scene, but bad writing cannot be concealed so easily in a romantic comedy. Juniors Mia Flick and Amani Dewar say their favorite rom-coms came from the early 2000’s and 90’s, and that while they haven’t seen many coming out recently, the ones that have come out are much worse than what they’re used to watching. “I think that newer rom-coms are made by millennials– or older– who are trying to be mainstream, but they don’t really understand how the teenage mind works,” Flick says. Noting what made earlier rom coms so good, Dewar says, “They didn’t take themselves too seriously.” Flick agrees with that, adding, “There was less of a standard to meet…The times were simpler; there was no social media that they would try and include…I think the inclusion of social media in modern movies makes things so much less enjoyable to watch because they’re trying to relate to teenage experiences, but unless you’re a teenager you don’t really understand.” The two agreed that when new shows or movies attempted to portray social media– take, for example, the recent She’s All That spinoff, He’s All That– it would often fall flat. “I absolutely want to see more [good rom-coms] come out,” Dewar concluded.
Will we see any more decent rom coms in our lifetime? Or did the genre die with the end of the early 2000’s, like dresses over pants? It seems that movie makers have gotten so caught up in the making of artistic award winners and blockbuster sequels that they’ve forgotten the value of a good storyline and even better love story. As we watch the new movies pour in for 2024, let’s hope that we’ll one day see another good rom-com.
[Image Credit: Kelly Meeder]