20 things romantic comedies get wrong about love
jeanniejeanniejeannie.co.uk BLOG Saturday 9th October 2021
THOUGHT FOR THE DAY
TOP TWENTY OF THE DAY
20 things romantic comedies get wrong about love
By Kim Mannix – Expresso Communication
Romantic comedies have long been beloved for their ability to provide a certain level of feel-good escapism, as well as the chance to watch great things happen to beautiful people. But even diehard romantics know that real love and relationships are nothing like those depicted on screen. From the silly to the sexist, here are 20 things romantic comedies get wrong about love.
- You’ll meet your soulmate by chance
The “meet-cute” is a staple of romantic comedies, making us believe that finding one’s soulmate will happen in the most unexpected, adorable and sometimes clumsy ways, like reaching for the same book and knocking over a whole display, or getting stuck with them on an elevator. In the 2001 film The Wedding Planner, Jennifer Lopez stars as wedding planner Mary, who can’t find love in her own life, until she literally falls for Steve (Matthew McConaughey), and predictably discovers he’s perfect for her.
- A jerky guy will still get the girl
The expression “nice guys finish last” seems to prove true in far too many romantic comedies, where men who act like jerks and treat women poorly still somehow end up winning them in the end. One example, though there are several, is 1998’s You’ve Got Mail, which sees a shallow book dealer named Joe (Tom Hanks) mansplain and lie to Kathleen (Meg Ryan), all in the name of some not-very-romantic-seeming email courtship. Yet she, and viewers, are meant to find him utterly charming.
- A jerky girl will still get the guy
Awful men aren’t the only ones that get the glory in romantic comedies. Sometimes a female protagonist does so many jerky things that you’d think there’s no way the guy will still be into her, but somehow it just makes her more lovable. Think of Amy (Amy Schumer) in the 2015 romantic comedy Trainwreck—a selfish, cheating, lying, commitment-phobe who alienates pretty much everyone around her, but still snags the endearingly patient and cool Aaron (Bill Hader) anyway.
- Makeovers are the magic road to love
It’s hard not to think of an example of a romantic comedy that doesn’t involve some version of a glow-up, usually as a means for some awkwardly adorable girl to rise to glamour status in order to impress a man. The 1999 movie She’s All That is but one example, where a relatively minor change of clothes and swapping of glasses transforms Laney (Rachael Leigh Cook) from nerdy girl to prom queen material, and of course allows her to finally catch the eye of hot guy Zack (Freddie Prinze Jr.)
- Bets and deception are a great way to kickstart a relationship
Bets, lies and other dubious deals are always the foundation of a solid relationship, right? If not in reality, then certainly in the world of rom-coms. If main characters aren’t outright lying about who they are, then they might be doing their darndest to best one another, like Andie (Kate Hudson) and Ben (Matthew McConaughey) in the 2003 movie How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days. The premise of writer Andie doing all she can to get a guy to break up with her for the sake of an assignment, while Ben pulls out all the stops to get her to love him to win a bet, is as ridiculous as it is predictable.
- Over-the-top gestures aren’t creepy
A little effort from someone who’s trying to win your heart is sweet, but some movies attempt to pass off over-the-top, outrageous gestures and stalker-ish antics as romance. We’re looking at you, Love Actually (2003), where Mark’s (Andrew Lincoln) pattern of fixation and notecard confessions of love to Juliet (Keira Knightley), who happens to be married to his best friend, come off as not just inappropriate, but downright creepy. But instead of telling him to back off, like most anyone would, she instead runs out to the street to kiss him.
- Last-chance love declarations are best done at airports
Forget tight security, the cost of plane tickets, or the actual distance it takes to get through most airports—when it comes to last-minute declarations of love, no place is better than an airport or even a plane that’s about to take off. There are many examples of “airport love” in film, but one of the most memorable, for both its comedy and its absolute unbelievability, is in The Wedding Singer (1998) when Robbie (Adam Sandler), with a little help from singer Billy Idol, finally declares his love for Julia (Drew Barrymore) by serenading her over the plane’s intercom.
- Exes are evil and manipulative
Ex-lovers are just the worst, right? Forget all the real-life examples of people getting along perfectly fine with their exes. In the world of rom-coms, exes are often depicted as petty, manipulative and otherwise evil as a means of advancing the plot. Forgetting Sarah Marshall (2008) even put the horrible ex, played by Kristen Bell, right there in the title. While her relationship with Peter (Jason Segel) makes for good comedy, exes so insufferable are as rare as the people who supposedly can’t get over them.
- Your friend is really “the one”
It’s certainly true that friendships are the foundations of great relationships, but if romantic comedies are to be believed, you just have to open your eyes to see that your soulmate is really that friend you’ve had for years. The best example of this is the adorable, sometimes frustrating, and ultimately enviable relationship between Harry (Billy Crystal) and Sally (Meg Ryan) in 1989’s When Harry Met Sally…. In reality, your friend probably isn’t “the one,” they probably aren’t pining from the sidelines waiting for you to find your eureka love moment, and men and women really can be just friends.
- Everything will work out because of fate
Finding love isn’t easy, and keeping it is even harder. But don’t expect romantic comedies like the 2001 movie Serendipity to offer that lesson. The love between Jonathan (John Cusack) and Sara (Kate Beckinsale) is instant and storybook, but instead of moving forward, they separate and convince themselves that fate will bring them together again if it’s meant to be. Love can certainly seem magical, but believing its success is all in the hands of destiny is nothing more than a precursor to unhappiness.
- Hate breeds love
First impressions are surprisingly accurate, but romantic comedies would have you believing that the person you can’t stand is actually destined to be your one true love. Think of the initial animosity between Mark Darcy (Colin Firth) and Bridget (Renée Zellweger) in the 2001 rom-com Bridget Jones’s Diary, where the two characters seem to openly loathe one another. By the end of the film, they, and the viewers, are convinced they’re a perfect match despite all past evidence to the contrary.
- True lovers kiss in the rain
Kissing in the rain looks so perfectly romantic. The 1961 classic Breakfast at Tiffany’s is an early example of the iconic rain kiss, but other films, like Chasing Amy, Spider-Man and The Notebook do their best to make it seem as though true love declarations are best done in downpours. The reality of how uncomfortable it is to be wet and cold, no matter how passionately you’re into someone, is conveniently overlooked.
- Kids know when it’s a perfect match
If you’ve been unlucky in love so far, you may need a precocious child to help you find your match. In the world of romantic comedies, kids are often depicted as being able to see just how perfect two people are for one another, while the silly adults remain oblivious to their romantic destiny. For example, see cute little Morgan’s (Rachel Covey) wisdom in the 2007 film Enchanted or daughter Maya’s (Raini Rodriguez) efforts to set up her father (Kevin James) in Paul Blart: Mall Cop.
- If you shake up your life, love will find you
A pervasive theme in romantic comedies is that a person has to completely shake up their life in order for love to finally find them. This might involve impulsively quitting your job, setting off on some free-spirited adventure, or moving to a completely new place. Though in the real world, financial and social constraints make the radical life change nearly impossible for most people, films would have us believe love and happiness are as simple as, say, buying a villa in Italy, like in Under the Tuscan Sun (2003). If only.
- Inappropriate relationships are OK for the sake of romance
In real life, there are certain relationships that should preclude any kind of romance, like student-teacher dynamics or familial ties. But in film, norms and laws are often overlooked for the sake of romance. While he admits it’s not right, the hot teacher (Michael Vartan) is still overtly attracted to someone he believes to be a high school student (Drew Barrymore) in the 1999 rom-com Never Been Kissed. And cute as they may be together, there’s definitely something cringy about Cher (Alicia Silverstone) dating her stepbrother (Paul Rudd) in Clueless.
- People are always looking for marriage
In the realm of romantic comedies, marriage is usually depicted as the ultimate relationship goal, and characters are willing to tie the knot before they barely know one another’s last names, or no matter what problems they’ve had in the past. This road to love, like that of Morley (Jessica Alba) and Reed (Ashton Kutcher) in the 2010 movie Valentine’s Day, is not only unrealistic for all the people who don’t believe marriage is necessary, but rushed walks down the aisle would also lead to a whole lot of divorce.
- Even the biggest lothario can be tamed
The taming of the player is a common theme in romantic comedies, presumably because being the one true love who can make a commitment-phobic, serial dater settle down is some sort of ultimate conquest. In the 2011 film Crazy, Stupid, Love., Ryan Gosling’s Jacob is the sort of charming lothario that makes falling in love easy, but it’s not until he meets Hannah (Emma Stone) that his heart and ways are changed forever. It’s a great storybook romance for movie purposes, but this kind of playboy probably isn’t your ticket to a real happily-ever-after.
- Free-spirited, flaky women are the ultimate dream girl
What is it about movies that romanticize the head-in-the-clouds woman as the most desirable? Whimsical, a bit wild and often cynical or blasé about true love, these women, like Summer (Zooey Deschanel) in the 2009 rom-com (500) Days of Summer, seem basically untouchable, but that doesn’t stop characters like Tom (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) from pining over them and pursuing them in every way possible. The trope, often called the “manic pixie dream girl,” is tired, unrealistic and sexist.
- Weddings are the best place to find or declare true love
Maybe we have that iconic scene in 1967’s The Graduate to thank for this rom-com staple, but in film, there seems to be no better place to find or declare true love than at a wedding. Whether it’s the venue for meeting “the one,” like in Four Weddings and a Funeral, or the dramatic and romantic place to stop the ill-fated nuptials while our romantic lead still has a chance, movie weddings are powerful events. Forget that it’s actually very unlikely to encounter a runaway-bride situation, witness a dramatic ceremony interruption or find yourself slow-dancing with your own future mate.
- Love is white, hetero, and physically ideal
For years, romantic comedies have perpetuated the idea that love is only for white, heterosexual, thin people, like Jane (Katherine Heigl) and Kevin (James Marsden) in the 2008 movie 27 Dresses, for example. Sure, a more diverse character might’ve popped up as a best friend, boss or wedding planner, but the lovable protagonists were so similar and bland that it erased any sense of reality. Thankfully, more modern and diverse rom-coms, like Always Be My Maybe starring Ali Wong and Randall Park, Happiest Season starring Kristen Stewart and Mackenzie Davis, and Isn’t It Romantic starring Rebel Wilson are becoming the norm.
REMEMBER: The most wasted of all days is one without laughter.
– Nicolas Chamfort
INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE FOR THE DAY
“Words are your paintbrush, and your life is the canvas. You can paint whatever you want to paint.”― Miguel Ruiz
Happiness is…watching a good, really good romantic comedy movie.
GRANDAD’S ONE LINER JOKE OF THE DAY
What does a liar do after he dies? He lies still.
Love is…still holding hands after all these years.
A time to be romantic…A time to be real.
9th October 2021
1779 The first ‘Luddite’ riots broke out in a lace factory in Loughborough as workers protested against labour-saving machinery which was likely to make them redundant. Similar riots begin at a spinning cotton factory in Manchester.
1897 Henry Stumey set off in his 4.5hp Daimler from Land’s End, and became the first person to drive to John o’ Groats. His 929 mile journey took him 10 days.
1955 Three armed men raided a Turkish bath in London, but the well heeled customers were wearing very little clothing, and the robbers’ total haul was only £7.
2014 A report from the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) found that populations of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish had declined on average by 52 per cent in the last 40 years. Almost the entire decline was down to human activity, through habitat loss, deforestation, climate change, over-fishing and hunting.
©2021 Phil M Robinson