Why We Love the Rom-Com

Netflix has blessed us with the leisure of switching from genre to genre with the click of a button. After a long hard day of work, we watch a mindless TV show. Maybe after learning about the meat industry in class, we look into watching a documentary on it. During a holiday party we might just watch the really odd hour-long film of a toasty-looking fire. Romantic Comedies, alike, serve their own special purpose. A hybrid between Romance and Comedy, the Romantic Comedy is not 50% Romance, and 50% Comedy, but rather 100% of its own special genre.

At our worst moments and our best, Romantic Comedies (colloquially known as the Rom-Com) can provide us with solace, hope, or an overdue crying session. There are, of course, critics that say they’re all the same but I challenge those critics to find the same feelings from watching Tom Hanks fall in love with the children he never had in Family Man and watching Colin Firth punch out Hugh Grant over a woman in Bridget Jones’s Diary. Romantic comedies are anything but identical. Throughout each film is a unique sequence of events, timeline, theme and character development plan that makes it truly one of a kind and enables us to reference them very specifically in conversation. Similar? Yes. Predictable? Sure, but that’s why we love them.

It isn’t just the montage of two beautiful people falling in love, or the breath-taking cityscapes of New York (where 99% of Rom-Coms are based), or the seemingly perfect accompanying music that makes us want to watch. It’s knowing what comes after the climax – after the big fight, after the realization, after the discovery – that makes us keep watching. Knowing there’s a happy ending is what makes the other parts so interesting.

If we didn’t know, for sure, that Anti-Relationship John and bubbly Fall-Hard Jane were going to overcome the only thing separating them from a life of love and happiness, whether realistic or not, would we really keep watching? The answer is probably no. Especially if the reason we put on the movie in the first place is to get away from the sometimes heartbreaking parts of life – not to have our hearts broken all over again by fictional characters. Expecting the happy ending from the beginning is a tradition, but also very practical.

When life isn’t going its best for us – when we can’t see beyond tomorrow – romantic comedies give us a sense of control, especially if this is the third watch-through. If it’s your first, well, you still know how it will end. The adventure of getting to the happy ending is what’s exciting, and sometimes heartbreaking. It becomes a metaphor for our own lives, or for some a dream for their own lives. When it seems that we won’t get the happy ending we want, Rom-Coms affirm the fact that we’re only an hour through the movie of our lives and we still have a ways to go.

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