This might be one of the least expected things any of you would expect me to say (and for a project which includes such word combinations as “adorable cholera” that should have its own gravitas), but I like romantic comedies. I do. I enjoy seeing people become drawn to one another. I like it when innocent interplay becomes more flirtatious, watching characters verbally intertwine, push and pull. Individuals in these scenarios often put their best selves forward, showcasing potential and promise. Those eureka moments when they realise there’s something deeper. Tensions ratcheting up when cracks begin to show. Watching them come back together after realising fallibility and intention. To leave everyone feeling warm and fuzzy, a nice big bow neatly wraps up the whole process in a happily ever after.
Whatever people might think, I’m a romantic at heart. Outside of personal growth, my prime directive is to amass love around myself and let the people who love me back know that it’s reciprocal. I enjoy thinking about others and how I can make them happy, how to forge special moments for them. Because I know how much these people mean to me, directing the same back to them seems the only possible course of action. Naturally, it makes sense as to why romantic comedies work. All the plot points above are familiar to me and my lived experience. We all crave to see ourselves reflected on-screen, right? How would this be any different?
Love may be blind, but my affinity for the medium of romantic comedies isn’t. I still need motivation, connection. Much like any tryst that’d swaddle me in its embrace, I need a form of resonance. You’re not infatuated with everyone you see just because they could be a potential match, right? There needs to be a spark. Crumbs that entice you further down the path. If I’m to get pulled into a romantic comedy it needs tangible chemistry, clever writing and likeable characters I actually want to root for. My girlfriend and I are two films into her first foray into the “Before trilogy”. It’s a gorgeous series that chronicles two people weaving in and out of each other’s orbits and the deep pangs of connection that pull them together. It’s beautiful and idyllic, yet raw and truthful. In the span of the genre, Before Sunrise, Before Sunset and Before Midnight are lightning in a bottle.
Something that’s often lacking from romantic comedies is the weight of realism. I know, they’re a product created for the purposes of escapism, but that shouldn’t be any barrier to gravity. Shows like Master of None and You’re the Worst have in recent years embraced this wholeheartedly. Master of None in particular showcases the pitfalls of cohabitation perhaps better than any romantic comedy I’ve seen so far (because after three weeks of cohabitation I’m suddenly an expert? – Ed). Arguments over toothpaste or mess feel ripped straight out of everyday life. You’re the Worst has a fantastic scene in season two that parodies the melodramatic overreaction that so oftren fuels the genre. A couple has a fight at a party and the female partner leaves. The male partner is convinced they’re done with and that the relationship is fucked. Later on when he leaves the party, he finds her waiting at a bus stop. He gives her an impassioned come back to me speech, to which she responds “Dude, we just got in a little fight and now I’m taking the bus home to show you how mad I am. You thought we broke up? People don’t behave like that, dummy.” We all connect, but that doesn’t mean we connect on everything. We all have disagreements, but how often does the genre let slip that we also have discussions? Negotiations? That one misstep doesn’t turn it all to rubble?
Life is funny, weird and often uncomfortable. Having art imitate life can only serve to elevate the art. People are both creatures of habit and unpredictable. When we come together we mitigate these clashes with conversations, compassion and understanding. Intentionality is key, knowing that you’re both on the same team and the goal is staying there. I want to see more of life reflected on screen. I want to see truth in fiction. I want the genre to encourage more people to try harder, to work together. I like romantic comedies, but I want to fall in love with them.