BELIEVE IT OR NOT but my husband is a fan of romantic comedies (I hope he doesn’t mind me admitting that publicly). But me? Not so much. Sure I’ll watch them with him and I giggle here and there and on a rare occasion I even enjoy them despite their obvious shortcomings (hello Bridget Jones & My Big Fat Greek Wedding!), but all in all I don’t care for them. When it comes to choosing a movie, romcoms are last on my must-see list.
“But romantic comedies are harmless! Cute little romantic romps that are good for a smile and getting a little teary-eyed. What could you possibly have against them?”
PLENTY. I have plenty against them. In fact I have 5 good, solid reasons why romantic comedies suck and should be limited to only one theatrical release per year (Sorry, honey. I hate to rally against one of your favorite film genres but it must be done…but I promise to watch any action film you want without complaint, no matter how big the plot holes may be. X my heart). Allow me to explain:
5 Reasons Romantic Comedies Suck
1) They’re Predictable
GUY AND GIRL meet. There are a series of predictable mishaps and predictable hilarity ensues. After numerous predictable false starts, stalls and delays they finally fall madly in predictable love. The storylines are so formulaic that they’re an insult to our collective intelligence. Want a romantic comedy that breaks all the rules and is truly worth a watch? Harold & Maude. Enough said.
2) She Can Change Him
THE MOVIE STARS THE HANDSOME SCAMP, the young Lothario who lies, cheats, manipulates, and uses women. He’s a womanizing asshat to the nth degree. An attractive man that treats women like toilet paper yet he is still adored (even if only grudgingly at first).
IN THE MOVIE he’s misunderstood. Buried under that cocky exterior is a man with a heart of gold who simply hasn’t met the right woman. The right woman can change him…and in the movie she always does. He stops his lying and cheating, turns over a new leaf and becomes a one woman man who would die for her.
IN REAL LIFE this guy would be reviled and would spread STD’s faster than a head lice epidemic in an elementary school. He’s the guy you cockblock at the bar to save your best friend the heartbreak of wondering why he never called her back. In real life the guy’s a bastard and he never changes. Never. Not for any woman. Ever. He spends his life hopping from bed to bed, even if he is ever fortunate enough to find a woman to put up with his cheating, self-involved, arrogant ass. He’s a grade A jerk and should be avoided at all costs. There are no happy endings here…unless you mean the one he gets at the Oriental massage parlor.
3) The Soundtrack From Hell
WHATEVER DEMON from the pits of hell is responsible for the creation of these soundtracks should be publicly flogged, bathed in holy water and made to listen to 72 consecutive hours of Celine Dion as punishment for their crimes against good taste. Naturally there are exceptions to this rule but as a whole the soundtracks suck in a really big way and serve only to enhance my irritation with the romcom experience as a whole.
4) Ridiculous Characters
WE’VE ALREADY ADDRESSED the unlikely and unlikable leading man who takes the form of the asshat archetype, but the ingénue is usually just as unlikable or better yet, completely foreign to us and our reality.
HOW MANY of us are trust fund babies who’ve lost everything and are rebuilding our lives and our fortune from scratch all while falling head over Louboutins for the blue collar guy her family will never accept?
HOW MANY of us live in Manhattan working a minimum wage retail job while struggling as an artist but somehow, by what I can only imagine is the direct result of a deal with the devil, are able to afford a MASSIVE (and gorgeous) apartment complete with stunning architectural detail, designer clothes and still have enough money left over for cocktails and cab fare every night of the week? I’m sorry but even with rent control there’s simply no way. No. Freakin’. Way.
AND LET’S NOT FORGET the best friend. The ingénue is usually found whining about all the complications in her life to her best friend(s) who is either:
a gay man
a less attractive but much funnier female
a group of 2-3 equally attractive, less funny but more outspoken group of women who enjoy casting dispersions on the entire male gender while loudly cackling and publicly discussing their sex lives in vivid detail
a tub of ice cream and/or a cat (this is to drive home the point that she’s sad and lonely, since only sad and lonely women eat ice cream and have cats and every woman who doesn’t have a man is obviously sad and lonely. duh.)
DOES ANY of this sound vaguely reminiscent of you and your life? Yeah. Me neither.
5) Unrealistic Expectations
THIS ONE KILLS ME. I mean really kills me. Even during the predictable chaos portion of the romcom – you know the part where everything’s crazy and they’re falling in love but are both too stupid, too stubborn or too self-absorbed to realize it yet – everything is perfect and cute. They’re so perfect it’s nauseating. So nauseating, in fact, that it should make the characters sick…and if it did make them sick they would still be puking up Lisa Frank-esque rainbows with glitter hearts, the glitter vomit would taste like candy and the disgustingly adorable puke-fest would be set to one of the aforementioned songs in the key of crap to create a perfect and cute montage of the whole foul but endearing event.
EVEN WHEN they’re at their worst these fantasy relationships are still borderline unattainable and 100% unrealistic. I don’t know about you but no argument I have ever had with a boyfriend (or my honey) even remotely resembles the average romcom row. Romantic comedies have done irreparable damage to society’s idea of what a relationship is supposed to look like, in good times and in bad.
ROMCOMS SO DRASTICALLY distort reality that I’m inclined to go so far as to say that they and they alone are responsible for the belief that some men have that women don’t poop or fart. For those men who labor under such delusions please allow me to direct you to any women’s public bathroom. There is no greater proof of just how disgusting and unhygienic women can be. There are bodily functions galore and the trail some women leave in their wake is devastating. Where are these women in the standard romcom? So far I’ve only seen one that I can recall: Megan (played by Melissa McCarthy) in Bridesmaids.
THERE’S ONLY ONE director who routinely creates reality in his romantic comedies and that’s Judd Apatow. Watch This Is 40 and tell me that’s not an accurate portrayal of life for pretty much every straight American couple, give or take a couple 0’s from each paycheck. But he is the exception, not the rule.
SO UNTIL Judd Apatow becomes the sole creator of romantic comedies in this and all parallel universes they’ll continue to stay at the bottom of my Netflix queue.