The New Rom Com

Despite the fact that some people still treat romantic comedies with scorn, the general attitude towards romcoms is far more positive than it has ever been. Largely, this is due to women having a stronger voice in Hollywood, and a society in which it is growing easier to admit to enjoying media traditionally dismissed as “female”.

Although there are positive changes, it is important to accept the failings of older romcoms; simply put, romcoms do not represent the vast majority of their audience. Pretty Woman, Sleepless in Seattle, Notting Hill and countless other classics of the genre have one thing in common: they feature beautiful, slim, white women as their main character.

Moreover, these films traditionally also feature story lines in which women require validation by men. The female characters we see in these films are often successful and intelligent- and yet, they only seem to achieve true happiness through their relationships with men.

Criticism of these tropes is absolutely valid. Although it is not impossible to enjoy older romcoms, some of these ideas feel outdated and uncomfortable. Luckily, a new generation of romcoms is here.

Netflix recently released Always Be My Maybe, a delightful and fresh romcom featuring an Asian American lead who is portrayed as strong and successful. Played by the delightful Ali Wong, the character is presented as strong and successful, and the male lead is supportive and truly presented as an equal partner.

Rebel Wilson is an actress who is gracing screens more and more frequently. Although plus-sized actresses are still often cast as comic relief in romantic films, Wilson recently starred in Isn’t It Romantic? on Netflix, in which she played a cynical woman who found true love. It is incredibly refreshing to see a plus-sized character presented as desirable, rather than desperate.

Women are beginning to be presented as flawed and three-dimensional; Amy Schumer’s character in Trainwreck is promiscuous, partying and commitment-phobic- characteristics we usually see assigned to male characters. The change is refreshing, and Hollywood finally appears to be showing the many different types of woman.

View this post on Instagram

ALWAYS mix, NEVER worry...right? #Trainwreck

A post shared by Trainwreck (@trainwreckmovie) on

It is impossible to ignore the impact that our Netflix and chill culture has had on romcoms; many of the titles in this article are Netflix originals. It is delightful to browse the app and find so many varied romcoms in addition to old classics.

Despite the positivity, there are still issues: romcoms are still, generally, very heteronormative. Although there are some offerings, there are very few gay and lesbian romcoms, and fewer still featuring bi- and pansexual people. However, with the success of films such as Love, Simon, perhaps we can hope to see more excellent LGBTQ+ romcoms.

Overall, the changes are positive, but there is still work to be done. 2019 is shaping up to be a very good year for fans of romantic comedies, and there are more to come. Let’s hope that the genre continues to move forward and, of course, be respected and celebrated!

By Nicole