We are living in a romantic comedy renaissance.
The romantic comedy genre peaked in the ‘90s with popular titles such as “Pretty Woman” and “10 Things I Hate About You.” Unfortunately, around the mid-2000s to mid-2010s, there was a decline in interest. There were still romantic comedies being produced. However, they weren’t as successful. Lately, a resurgence of romcoms has hit theaters and streaming platforms. Movies like “Marry Me” with Jennifer Lopez and “Palm Springs” on Hulu are calling for the revival of the rom-com.
The lovechild of romance and comedy genres, rom-coms are usually lighthearted and predictable. They revolve around a romance storyline with jokes and situations to make the viewer laugh out loud.
So what is a rom-com anyway?
Elements of a rom-com may include (but are not limited to) falling in love with the quirky best friend, the near break-up and/or break-up. This is followed by a reconciliation, sometimes in the form of a grand gesture, and then a happily ever after. There are also popular tropes that are often used in this form of storytelling, some of which include fake dating, love triangles, or second-chance romance. It can be cliche, formulated and stereotypical but enjoyable to many.
The rom-com peak was in the ‘90s, almost 30 years ago. Famous movie titles include “Notting Hill,” “She’s All That,” “The Wedding Singer,” “You’ve Got Mail” and “My Best Friend’s Wedding.” These movies follow the rom-com formula. Although a few things may be dated, their stories are told time and time again. However, starting in the 2000s with the emergence of big-budget movie franchises, romcoms were dismissed in Hollywood as chick flicks, initiating their decline at the box office.
Although they didn’t go completely extinct, romantic comedies in the 2000s and early 2010s were not nearly as popular as they were previously. There are a few reasons why this might have occurred. The economic turmoil of the late 2000s may have driven away movie-goers. The demand for more representation and less stereotyping in the media may have also made them less popular, especially when there was little to no change. However, there were still a few popular rom-coms during the genre’s decline. “Crazy Stupid Love,” “The Proposal” and “Bridget Jones’s Diary,” to name a few.
But why is the revival of the rom com happening now? Well, simply put, streaming.
Streaming platforms became popular starting in the early 2010s, eventually starting to produce and distribute their own exclusive content. Certain genres were able to find their niche audiences through these services, creating a higher demand. Movies that completed their run in theaters were accessible digitally afterward, allowing people to find them, enjoy them and tell their friends.
Previous demands for more representation were finally heard, and romantic comedies like “The Lovebirds” and “Fire Island” were made and released to Netflix and Hulu respectively. Lately, there has also been an increase in book-to-movie adaptations, some of which translate seamlessly to a rom-com perfect for streaming.
While yes, rom-coms can be cheesy, corny, and cliche with their happily ever afters and their sweet and sometimes awkward meet-cute beginnings, this genre brings comfort to viewers with their dependable formulas and lightheartedness. It is enough to warm a cold, bitter heart and make one say “hey, maybe love does exist.”
Recommendations for the road
And finally, was this all a strategy to recommend some romantic comedies? Maybe. Check these movies out.
- Palm Springs (2020)
- The Broken Hearts Gallery (2020)
- Set It Up (2018)
- Always Be My Maybe (2019)
- Wedding Season (2022)