Image description: A collage of some classic, all time favourite Rom Coms (left to right: The Notebook, Anyone but you, 10 things I hate about you, How to lose a guy in 10 days.
Image description: A collage of some classic, all time favourite Rom Coms (left to right: The Notebook, Anyone but you, 10 things I hate about you, How to lose a guy in 10 days.

Illustration by Izah Sohail

New Dawn for RomComs?

The 2010s saw lackluster rom-coms, leading us to rewatch '90s and early '00s classics and revive their trends. Yet, some new releases are emerging as favorites. Is this a return or a one-off?

Mar 25, 2024

Say what you will, but romance across all disciplines is probably the most widely consumed form of entertainment. Romance is consistently one of the highest selling literature genres, despite it being deemed not as much art as other literary genres, like historical novels or sci-fi. Romantic movies are a must at Christmas with a cup of hot cocoa in your hands and bundled up in your favorite blanket. And it is romantic love that even the strongest and toughest of action characters strive for.
Yet romantic movies have been suffering from justified bad reputation for a while now. It is probably because a big portion of the romance movies released in the last decade have been cringe at best, absolutely disturbing at worst. Only very few have floated above a 2 star review, but even those never made it to the list of all-time favorites. That list features Notting Hill, Titanic, Sleepless in Seattle, You’ve Got Mail, The Notebook, and many more, but all fit within a single timeframe: 1990s to early 2000s, rarely beyond 2005 or 2006. A subgenre that has been suffering the most this fall of grace of the romance movies is the romantic comedies flicks. The jokes are no longer funny, the male protagonists are often outright creepy and there is usually a sense that the romance is staged, rushed and too unrealistic even for a work of fiction.
Again, it is not out of lack of interest that this genre is suffering. There is a long history of disregard and mockery of the romance genre, some even link it to the fact that it is a female-dominated field both in terms of creators and readers. In fact, in 2018 it was documented that books written by women were priced 45% lower than works by male authors. A more recent study, however, shows that this is probably about to change since in 2023 women are already dominating the business overall and the majority of novels published within a year in English are by female authors. This is also accredited to the rise of BookTok and its perceived credibility by many readers. Yet other creative mediums, including film, are not there yet. And that sounds like a good reason why romance books have never been so well-regarded and RomComs are almost museum artifacts.
Still, a few modern titles are shouldering the hard work of bringing RomComs back to their golden days. Two of them were released just this past month: Upgraded, a Prime Video feature, and Anyone But You, a prime Valentine’s cinema date pick. While content-wise the movies are still lacking the quirky realism and dramatic qualities of many of the favorite 2000s flicks, in terms of genuine entertainment, they have much to offer. It is refreshing to see that such features again do not shy away from a big and pompous press tour, from inviting stellar casts to perform and overall being goofy about filmmaking. Similarly, Ticket to Paradise works as a romantic comedy because of the dynamic between the two of the 1990s RomCom favorite sweethearts, Julia Roberts and George Clooney. The banter is what the RomCom genre is all about after all!
One other RomCom that is acclaimed by the romance die-hards is Crazy Rich Asians. Even the Letterboxd community, which is definitely my most reliable metric for movies now, are unanimous that this is a modern classic in the genre. Despite the cheesy punchlines, there is still a lot to learn from it about the clash of cultures and also the modern understanding of femininity. And the jokes are actually funny (most of the time).
With romance, there has always been the question of what art is about: is it about expression, knowledge transmission or only pure, uninhibited fun? Somehow the role of art as entertainment has been considered its least crucial one. But without play, what is all the knowledge and expression for? If RomComs are one of your little joys in life, why shy away from it? Living is to be happy, whatever that means, even if it is roasting the screenplay of a silly flick about a meet-cute turned relationship for the choice of pick-up lines.
Yana Peeva is Senior Columns Editor. Email them at
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