With every single person’s least favorite holiday rapidly approaching on Feb. 14, many will turn to their TVs in order to fill the time with romantic comedies that can transform any heartless cynic into a pile of tears and good feelings. Unfortunately, Hollywood hasn’t been living up to the standards set by rom-com enthusiasts in recent years.
Lindsey Reich, a graduate student in English, said rom-coms are largely simplistic.
“I would define a rom-com as a film that has a relatively simple plot,” Reich said. “They’re typically mid-budget films, so they’re not in the upwards of millions of big box office movies.”
It is hard to determine when rom-coms began. According to ReviewGeek, even the works of Shakespeare (think “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”) can be placed within this genre, but the rom-com movies we think of today got their start during the 1920s with stand-out silent movies like “Sherlock Jr.” and “Girl Shy.”
Meredith Bateman, a fourth-year studying communication and president of the Student Film Society, said that rom-coms have definitely changed over time.
“A lot of old Hollywood films kind of portray love as something you have to chase after constantly … it’s a constant tug and pull,” Bateman said. “I think now there’s always a misunderstanding, something always gets in the way of love.”
The beginning of the so-called golden age of rom-coms occurred during the 1980s and 1990s as studios kept pumping out classics for all ages, but the movies released in the early 2000s cleared out any competition. While some of these movies have a certain outdated themes within them, there is a general understanding of nostalgia and hope that leaves viewers wanting more.
Early 2000s rom-coms have become part of a renaissance with the rise of social media and streaming services. It seems like every month, there’s another resurged rom-com being gushed over and used to create new trends.
“I think late ’80s to early ‘90s, and then the 2000s stopping right at 2010, was the height of the rom-com,” Bateman said. “I liked how rom-coms transformed into a new kind of genre as time went on. An example would be ‘Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind,’ as that one kind of explored the drama and sci-fi that can go into romantic movies.”
Modern rom-coms include the likeness of “Crazy Rich Asians,” “Set it Up,” “Isn’t It Romantic,” and the “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” franchise. While some of these, specifically “Crazy Rich Asians,” have been met with critical acclaim and definitely deserve a spot on a potential top rom-coms list, others have been met with a completely different reception by audiences.
It seems like rom-coms released on streaming services and in theaters aren’t being made with the same wit and classic romance an audience would like to see.
“It’s interesting because I think a lot of the reason why we enjoy classic rom-coms so much is because they are so simple,” Reich said. “I feel like more modern rom-coms are trying to make things complicated by bringing them into the modern world. Romance is one of those things that’s really timeless, you don’t have to include millennial or Gen Z jokes in order for the audience to understand.”
No matter what your favorite genre of movie is, the classic rom-com will always move even the toughest of people into a puddle of happiness and good feelings. While they’re not always accurate, love stories give a sense of hope and belonging to many.
“People want love so bad that they can’t realize [it] when it’s right in front of them,” Bateman said. “All of the movies … it’s somewhat of an internal thing. ‘What love do I deserve?’ When you see it reflected in front of you in another person, it's a really beautiful moment.”
Welcome to the discussion.
Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.