This Valentine’s Day, I decided to dissect my love for romantic comedies: movies that have led to the popularization and commercialization of romance in general. I love romantic comedies, and I make no secret of it. I can perfectly recite every scene of “Love Actually,” “Bridget Jones’s Diary” and “Bend it like Beckham.”
They fill me with joy like no other, much to the shock of my friends. My primarily male group of friends has constantly questioned my obsession with these movies. “You know that it’s all fake right? They never tell you what happens after the happily ever after. The entire premise is far too simplistic,” they say adamantly. Usually I shake my head and laugh and stubbornly argue back.
Of course, I am not that naive. I am aware that once the credits roll, after the passionate kiss at the end, the couple will continue to face problems. But that’s for them to deal with. The idealistic viewer in me doesn’t want to see that mess; real life is messy enough.
I am usually someone who loves going in-depth into everything. With romantic comedies, however, I don’t have to, and that’s the beauty of it. I can simply submerge myself in a world full of charming people with beautiful stories, and that’s pretty awesome, if you ask me.
I have been told that all romantic comedies follow a particular formula. “It’s all about the fight fight/ kiss kiss,” as one of my friends disparagingly put it. Now, as a connoisseur of rom-coms, I am here to set the formula straight.
The story usually begins with a girl: usually a little clumsy, a little confused, and a little world-weary. She has a cute yet professional job, usually as a bookstore owner, journalist or a TV producer. Her world is turned upside down when she bumps into Mr. Right through a magically timed, yet completely accidental, “meet-cute,” and it’s all rainbows and butterflies from there.
But wait, there’s more. As it turns out, Mr. Right has trust issues. He has been heartbroken before, and he isn’t sure he can love again. Or maybe the girl’s ex-boyfriend has returned to her life, and she’s confused, even though it is clear to the audience that her ex is completely terrible. Or they had a classic miscommunication that somehow couldn’t be resolved face to face and results in the pair overreacting and calling it quits.
The girl is sad and runs off, either in the rain or to the airport for some reason, leaving everything behind. The guy is mad and questions why he is sitting and doing nothing when his girl is minutes away from leaving him forever. He gets up, dusts himself off and runs after her because apparently texting or calling is too unromantic. Then comes the teary, passionate reunion, the lover’s embrace, the perfect kiss and the most popular love song at the time playing in the background.
It seems like I’m mocking the genre, but if anything, I’m in awe of it. This same formula is recycled in such a magical way each time with new chemistry, new conundrums and new romantic gestures for the viewers to sigh over. It’s genius.
Growing up, I romanticized these tropes to the extent that it is hard for me to shake them off, even now. This led me to ask myself, “Why is it that, even though deep down I am extremely aware that love does not seem to operate quite as smoothly as it does in these movies, am I so attached to them?” The answer is simple: it’s hope.
I could write about how romantic comedies are completely unrealistic, but we all know that already. So, I’ll just tell you what romantic comedies have taught me. They’ve taught me to not settle or give up.
I have seen so many people get into relationships because it’s convenient, because they are lonely or just so they’d have someone to flaunt on social media. I have seen people in relationships with others who definitely did not treat them the way they deserved. And I have steered clear of that.
Because just like the clumsy, confused, world-weary girl with a cute profession, I know that life may seem kind of mundane now, but there is always a chance that something magical is out there waiting for me.
I have matured to the point that maybe over-the-top romantic gestures might not be the way to go because that’s more about the performance and less about the people in the relationship, but maybe your romcom story could be leaving cute post-its for each other every morning or surprising each other with funny costumes.If there’s one thing rom-coms have definitely taught me, it’s that creativity in romance brings passion.
Leaving aside the romance aspect, rom-coms always end happily. And that’s a great attitude to have; however bad it gets, there’s always a story to be lived and an amazing ending to be had. It does not always have to be a soulmate in the rain, but it definitely can be!