Romantic Comedies, otherwise known as Rom-Coms.
These are one of the only things with which I have a simultaneous love-hate relationship. Naturally, I’m not going to talk about why I love them so much… because really, I hate them. They have absolutely destroyed me. They have put a million unrealistic goals and expectations in my mind for what to expect from future relationships. As a result, as a means of revenge, I’m basically going to pick apart all the cliches.
So without further ado…
The protagonist is either a youngish/middle-aged woman who has failed at love several times (and often has to attend her younger sister’s wedding to just reiterate how much of a failure at love she is) or a woman who is completely smitten with her absolutely perfect boyfriend/fiancee whom she doesn’t know is cheating on her with her best friend/work colleague/enemy, etc.
Her love interest is either the playboy/womaniser who has slept with half of her office (the female half) and her entire block in her apartment, the unexpected guy (the dweeby one, who she never sees as attractive until the end) or the best friend who is there for her 24/7 and whom she VICIOUSLY friendzones every time he attempts to make his feelings for her clear. Often, they are a combination of these: you can have the playboy best friend, – who has sworn off love, until he realises that he has fallen for his best friend – or the unexpected best friend – the guy who is so sweet and lovely and we GENUINELY do not see it coming (but this is more rare; they are super predictable).
The protagonist often has two best friends – a sassy-but-sensible gay guy and a chunkier, wilder version of herself. Sometimes the younger/elder sister counts as a best friend, but not often. Her best friends are the ones who push her to do things that she would never dream of doing. They’re the ones who simultaneously come up with the crazy ideas and also dissuade her from them when things start going wrong. Because they DO go wrong. A lot.
The protagonist usually has a very selfish, self-centered mother who is obsessed with marriage. If, as it is usually, the protagonist’s younger sister is getting married, the mother is the one who wants the protagonist to get a wealthy boyfriend. She often tries to set her daughter up with friend’s sons and gets very angry when the blind dates don’t go well. If the protagonist doesn’t have a mother, it’s usually because she’s dead.
The protagonist’s father is usually estranged from the mother and is dating a woman the same age or younger than the protagonist. He isn’t often in it much, or he’s dead, or lives in a different country. However, he proves to sometimes be a huge emotional support for the protagonist and is usually the one who predicts her future love life. (i.e. He often is the one who says her and her best friend will end up married).
In my opinion, there are several archetypal plots for these movies:
1. The Jigsaw Piece – The protagonist tells her mum in a mad moment of irrationality that she has a date for her sister’s wedding. As a result, her best friend has to step in and they pretend to date, for the benefit of their family. Eventually, they both realise (usually only the protagonist realises, because her best friend has been in love with her for YEARS) that they are just meant to be together, usually after a kiss which means more than it’s supposed to. Then everything just fits into place.
2. The Replacement – The protagonist who has sworn off love and often hears about the conquests of her playboy best friend, goes on holiday or AWOL for some reason or other. While away, she meets a guy and brings him back right around the time that her best friend discovers he has feelings for her and is going to tell her. Then he (the love interest) spends the next couple of weeks/months leading up to the wedding trying to figure out how to tell her before it’s too late.
3. The Change – The protagonist has just discovered/been alerted to the fact that he boyfriend/fiancee has cheated on her, or she is sick of the fact that she ‘settles’ for guys when she knows she can do way better. She turns to her friends for advice and they all suggest that she re-invents herself in order to become a new person and move on. Whilst she is in this phase, she becomes closer with a friend/neighbour who is a playboy. She uses his expertise to help her re-invent herself and they share a kiss at some point which means more than it should. The guy realises he wants to be with her and she wants to be but is unsure because of his history.
THE DENOUMENT – The Neat Ending
1. The Wedding Crasher – The best friend-turned-love interest decides not to go to the wedding and watch the girl he loves be married to someone else. At the last moment, he decides (often by the encouragement of his friend) that he should not let this girl go and races to her wedding to stop her from getting married. In the end he tells her that HE wants to marry her and that he has serious feelings for her.
2. The Proposal – The protagonist is sick of wasting her time with silly boyfriends so is holding out for the real thing. The love interest is – conveniently – a commitment-phobe, but realises he would rather commit himself to the protagonist than not risk a great opportunity. It is very unexpected – NOT – but he hints at it a lot.
3. The Declaration (Often links with ‘The Proposal’) – Lots of things have happened throughout the movie which don’t make much sense to the protagonist until the best friend/love interest confesses everything. He explains to her why he has done all those crazy things in the beginning and basically admits that he has fallen in love with her or has been in love with her for a number of years/months or whatever. Sometimes this could end with ‘The Proposal’ but often it just allows the two characters to kiss. Sometimes at the end, you get a snippet of ‘Moving In’, when the two have decided to live with each other.
THE CLICHE LINES
IN THE CASE OF A BEST FRIEND-TURNED-LOVE INTEREST…
1. GIRL: (After a bad date) It was so terrible, I can’t believe it. I have no luck, I am never going to find anybody.
GUY: (Staring at her) Anyone would be so lucky to have you, seriously.
GIRL: (Looking up at him) Awwwwwr [insert Guy’s name here] you are the best friend a girl could ask for.
2. GIRL: (In a jokey, platonic sense) I love you so much.
GUY: (Takes a deep breath, in a serious, romantic sense) I love you too.
3. GIRL: (Coming out of a dressing room in something super sexy) Does this look alright?
GUY: (Pauses) Yeah, you look… fantastic.
GIRL: (Spinning and oblivious to the fact that he is now admiring her butt) Because I’m not sure if he [insert different guy’s name] will like it, I mean…
GUY: (With some effort) I’m sure he’ll love it. You look really good.
GIRL: I’m actually SO glad I can take you shopping with me. You’re the only guy who doesn’t check me out.
4. GIRL: (Addressing her best friend) Ew, that’s weird, you’re like my brother!
LINES THAT MAKE YOU CRINGE OR CRY…
1. GIRL/GUY: We need to talk about that kiss.
2. GIRL/GUY: (To another person about their love interest) They don’t mean anything to me! (NB: We saw a VERY bad case of this in HSM, but it does actually happen in some RomComs)
3. GUY: (When he has been caught with another girl) I can explain.
GIRL: (Turning, shaking her head and runs out of the room)
4. GIRL: (Looking at the sunset/piece of art etc.) Isn’t it beautiful?
GUY: (Looking at the girl) Yeah. It is.
5. GIRL: (Comes down the stairs/enters the room in a fancy outfit, really dressed up) Whuddya think?
GUY: (Speechless) Uhm… WOW.
GIRL: (Looking worried) Is it my hair? Is this dress too short? What? What is it?
GUY: No you look…
GIRL: (Still worried) I look…
GIRL: (Looking bemused) I look ‘wow’?
GUY: Yes. I mean, NO! You look…
GIRL: (Laughs) You really make a girl feel special. (Walks off and forgets about it)
6. GIRL: I thought you were different.
7. GIRL: I trusted you.
8. (In alternating segments)
GIRL: (To her friend) He has the most amazing eyes. And he just LISTENS to me, yaknow?
GUY: (To his friend) Her figure is just… (makes shape with hands) POW. And I couldn’t stop staring at her BAZOOKAS.
GIRL: (To her friend) He treats his little brother so well, he is a great person all round, he has a lovely personality.
GUY: (To his friend) And her butt in that dress! Wow, I am going to ignore the fact that she has a great personality and just make comments about her body!
UNREALISTIC AND FALSE LESSONS THAT THESE MOVIES TEACH US…
1. No matter what the guy is like, if he loves you then you can change him.
2. The first person you fall in love with will be the person you remain with for the rest of your life.
3. Your best friend is in love with you, he/she is just waiting for the chance to tell you.
4. Guys are always chauvinistic pigs. Except for your best friend. He’s only a chauvinistic pig when he’s around his friend, but then you change him.
5. There are no barriers to true love. Even if the person is going to get married, if they’re in a long term relationship, it doesn’t matter. There aren’t any barriers.
6. Getting married is the end of the story. Once you get married, that’s it. You have cracked the code, you have achieved perfection. There is no more work to be done.
7. Marrying someone whom you haven’t known for very long is very sensible.
8. It doesn’t matter if you’re about to marry someone who you know doesn’t suit you very well, because your TRUE love will gatecrash the wedding and stop you from doing it anyway.
9. Gatecrashing weddings and stealing the bride is oh-so romantic.
10. Always wait until the latest possible minute to declare your love for somebody, JUST to make it very inconvenient for them. In fact, wait until RIGHT near the end when everything seems impossible. Because they will always give up their plans at the drop of a hat for you.
So there you have it. I don’t really want to go on anymore, because I feel like I’ve covered the majority of it. But that is it really though isn’t it? I mean, I’m speaking for the majority of these movies here, which makes sense I think.
Anyways, I’m off now. Back to London later (unfortunately) so need to finish packing… And don’t worry Susanna, I’ll do the post at some point. I promise.
I’ve also been nominated for the Creative Blogger Award, so I’ll do that at some point this week.