Romantic comedies have been a beloved genre in both film and television for decades. With their blend of humor, romance, and heartwarming moments, these movies and TV shows have captivated audiences of all ages and backgrounds.
From classic romantic comedies of the past to more recent hits, this genre has continued to evolve and capture the hearts of viewers around the world.
In this post, we'll explore the core elements of romantic comedies and examine some of the most popular and enduring films and TV shows in this genre. So whether you're a die-hard romantic or just looking for some lighthearted entertainment, join us as we dive into the world of romantic comedy movies and TV shows.
'Pillow Talk'Credit: Universal Pictures
What Are the Three Necessary Elements for Romantic Comedies?
We all think we know the strictest definition of a romantic comedy in our hearts, but have you ever tried to put it into words?
Romantic Comedy Definition for Film and TV
Romantic comedy is a subgenre of comedy. It's focused on humorous plotlines centered on romantic ideas, such as dating, marriage, break-ups, and true love. These movies usually contain happy endings.
'When Harry Met Sally'Credit: Columbia Pictures
Romantic Comedy Tropes
There are so many tropes we expect to see when watching romantic comedies. One of the most prevalent is the meet-cute, which is a quirky way the couple in the movie winds up meeting and getting to know one another. This is in every single movie. But the rest of the tropes you see can be changed and tweaked based on the plot of the movie at hand, as well as other story details.
A brief list of romantic comedy tropes:
Opposites attract: A couple from very different worlds or with very different personalities falls in love.
Misunderstandings: A lack of communication or mistaken assumptions create conflict that threatens the couple's relationship.
Meet-cute: A chance encounter between the two main characters leads to an unexpected spark.
Love triangle: A third party comes between the couple, causing jealousy and complications.
Grand romantic gestures: One or both characters make big, extravagant displays of love to win the other's heart.
Fish out of water: One character is thrust into an unfamiliar environment or situation and must navigate it with the help of the other character.
False identities: One or both characters conceal their true identity, leading to complications and misunderstandings.
A second chance at love: A couple reunites after a breakup, giving their relationship a second chance.
Bickering couple: A couple who frequently argue and bicker with each other ultimately fall in love.
Overcoming obstacles: The couple faces various obstacles or challenges that they must overcome to be together.
What Makes a Rom-Com?
When I read the excellent NPR article, it mentioned a book by Scott Meslow called From Hollywood with Love: The Rise and Fall (and Rise Again) of the Romantic Comedy.
In the book, Meslow analyzes these movies and tries to figure out what defines them. He came up with a simple test that he says anyone can try. This test helped him define what makes a romantic comedy.
The Three Requirements to Be a Romantic Comedy
To be a rom-com, you have to be able to answer three questions about the movie.
- Is the plot centered around a love story?
- Does it make you laugh more than it makes you cry?
- If you pull the love story out of the movie, is there still a movie, or does the whole thing collapse?
"There's a reason it goes all the way back to Shakespeare," Meslow wrote. "There is something just fundamentally pleasing and satisfying about the arc of love. It's a story that many, many people can relate to in one way or another. It's enjoyable to watch people spar and banter and fight about what they really want. And when they come together, I mean, that's as satisfying as it gets."
Romantic Comedy Movie Examples
As we talked about earlier, there are so many romantic comedies out there, it can be hard to pick a few examples.
Some of my favorites are When Harry Met Sally, Pretty Woman, Four Weddings and a Funeral, Waiting to Exhale, My Best Friend's Wedding, Bridget Jones's Diary, My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Love Actually, How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days—and that's just me pulling some random titles.
I also love Serendipity, The 40-Year-Old-Virgin, and Arsenic and Old Lace.
These kinds of movies really kept Hollywood busy. And now, they've become fodder for streamers who see an easy formula to make them. You just need to cast a couple with chemistry, pick a fun location, and get a script.
There's a huge built-in audience who jump at the chance to watch these films. So while studios look toward more tentpole films, romantic comedies have overtaken streamers.
'Wedding Crashers'Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures
What Are the Core Elements of Romantic Comedies in Film and TV?
Some core elements of romantic comedies in film and TV include a focus on a romantic relationship, often between two people who initially dislike each other, humorous situations and dialogue, obstacles to the couple's relationship that are eventually overcome, and a happy ending. Other common elements may include exaggerated character traits, misunderstandings, and dramatic gestures or declarations of love.
What Makes a Good Romantic Comedy Film?
Before we break down our takeaways from our favorite rom-coms, we need to establish what makes a great rom-com film.
When you think of these genre films, what do you think makes them great? Is it the characters? The romantically unrealistic dialogue? Or the big confession at the end of the film?
A good romantic comedy film often has a combination of several elements, including:
Strong, likable characters that the audience can relate to and root for.
A compelling, original concept or storyline that captures the audience's attention and keeps them engaged.
A balance of humor and heart, with well-crafted comedic moments that offset the emotional weight of the story.
A strong emotional core that allows the audience to connect with the characters and become emotionally invested in their story.
A unique visual style and creative use of cinematic techniques that enhance the storytelling.
Memorable, quotable dialogue and well-crafted scenes that leave a lasting impact on the audience.
A sense of authenticity and honesty that allows the audience to relate to the characters and their experiences.
A satisfying conclusion that ties up loose ends and leaves the audience feeling fulfilled.
You don't have to end with a "happy ending," but you should leave your audience feeling satisfied that this is where the story naturally ends for our main character.
Overall, a good romantic comedy film should be engaging, entertaining, and emotionally resonant, with characters and a storyline that viewers can connect with on a personal level.
'Punch Drunk Love'
Summing up the Romantic Comedy Genre
In conclusion, romantic comedies have long been a staple of both the film and television industries and for good reason. With their winning blend of humor, romance, and heart, these stories continue to captivate and entertain audiences around the world.
From classic films of the past to modern hits, the genre has something to offer to fans of all ages and tastes. Whether you're looking to laugh, cry, or simply escape into a world of love and happiness, romantic comedies are sure to satisfy you.
So next time you're in the mood for some feel-good entertainment, remember to turn to the timeless charm of a romantic comedy movie or TV show.
Let me know your thoughts in the comments.