I came across a really interesting article on Anna Faris, via the lovely Gemma Burgess‘s blog (do check it, and her books out if you haven’t before). And, as Carrie Bradshaw would say, I got to thinking about the state of romantic comedies today – the film versions at least.
I love romantic comedies. Rom coms, chick flicks, call them what you will: love them. But it’s increasingly hard to find a good one. Often when I watch a rom com today I find the agendas and the stereotypes quite chilling. I’ll take two recent examples: The Proposal and What Happened in Vegas. In both of these we have a protagonist who’s an alpha female – you know this because she’s clutching a cappuccino (see above) – who’s basically just way too in charge of her own life for her own good. She then encounters a low-earning beta male (hello Ashton Kurcher, Ryan Reynolds) who doesn’t take life seriously enough and probably has conflicts with his father. During the course of the film, she’s brought low in her career and he suddenly finds his vocation. By the end, if you’re still awake, she’s abandoning her career to ‘take time out’ and he’s finally getting on with his career. (This also happens in Wimbledon, Knocked Up, and probably more). There are many other formulas, by the way – but this is in my view one of the most poisonous ones.
Note: I’m not saying there aren’t some good roms out there – off the top of my head I’m thinking of In Her Shoes, The Sweetest Thing, Legally Blonde (though that’s more a comedy – discuss), Bridesmaids, Going the Distance … it’s just harder to find them. I don’t really understand why this is, though the New Yorker article above goes a long way to explaining it. Basically, like many other aspects of American life, Hollywood romantic comedies are becoming more and more conservative. We’re not going to see a Working Girl made any time soon.
I’ll admit, the whole thing does make me a little depressed. But, it’s also a great reminder of the opportunity that we have as writers, to create stories that are a bit more real and human and that don’t pander to the same old – or should I say new? – stereotypes. That’s the aim anyway. (I could tell you how I aimed to do this with the ending of my book but that would be a spoiler alert, and self-promotion, which are both bad).
What do you think? have you seen any decent rom-coms lately?